I spent the night on the couch, my fingers through the holes in the afghan, wearing its yarn like a ring on every finger, like textured brass knuckles. My apartment was hot, but I needed its weight on me to sleep, although it was hard to do that with her in my bed, knowing she was there, sweating, no doubt, on my sheets.
And when what I wanted came, when she made her way from the bedroom down the hallway to the living room where I was, waiting for this but dreading the temptation I knew would come with it, I kept my eyes on the television until she spoke. I was watching the last guest on the late, late show—a young sitcom actress I didn’t recognize, but I like the way she smiled at the host’s jokes. She didn’t laugh, only smiled, and this alone aged her by decades, I thought. But Marianne stood there, watching the light from the television add color to my face, the white wall behind me, and she said, “It’s so hot.”
I asked, “Did this wake you?” I meant the television.
And she said, “No. The heat did.” The ice pack had slid from her knee to her ankle, the muscles still swollen.