Birds

He’d lay in bed listening to her sleep. Breathing in and pushing out. Soft pops from her wet mouth. Blonde hair tossing on a cotton pillow. Covers on her side. Various words or sounds being made. She was in a dreamlike state. Unaware that she had won.

And he sat up on the edge of the bed. It sank a little on his side. Looking into the dark. Unable to see. Only the outlines of objects; a dresser, nightstand, make-up table, a basket with items, keepsakes, he’d kept in it. He fumbled around and found a tee- shirt hanging on the doorknob. Put the shirt on backwards. He felt a tightness around his neck. A cat spoke.

Opening the door, he could see a little light coming from the kitchen. It came from over the stove and led him down the hallway past the second bedroom, past the bathroom, pictures on the walls of her mother and father, a son. The cat spoke louder. Brushed up against his feet as he stood in there trying to decide if he was awake or not. A blood stain seeped through the front of his underwear. It was getting worse.

There was no worry or wondering what was going on inside him. He knew. No doctor told him. The man had not been diagnosed. He kept it to himself. Refusing to let her do laundry. Saying it was high time he did his own. And he would cough blood every once in awhile into white handkerchiefs that he would throw away. He left no evidence.

She still slept throughout the nights. Knowing. You cannot hide from a lover. They know you inside and out. But, she did not question him. Or, beg him to get medical attention. They just spent their days together as much as they could. Holding hands and drinking wine.

Coffee was made and he sat down with a cup at the kitchen table. The smell filled the house. Enough to wake her. She joined him. It was still dark outside. They listened to birds singing.

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