Akira walks around the apartment we share in a deep purple kimono I bought in Japan the time I went for work and spent the whole trip wishing she were with me. Purple, a royal color for the lovely queen of my life.
Her jet black hair cascades down her back, drawing my attention to the gentle swap in her hips as she walks past the painting in the living room and goes into the kitchen to heat up a kettle of water for tea. When she is out of view, I gaze at the painting, a silhouetted figure appearing to disappear into a grove of trees. Akira painted it for my first birthday after we moved in together.
She sweeps back into the living room with a steaming kettle, the one she bought at Pottery Barn on the trip to San Francisco last spring, and two mugs. She sets the tray on the coffee table we found at a garage sale three summers ago and finished to a cherry wood brown. I watch her thin hands pour the hot water into the mismatched mugs, drop a teabag into each, and she picks one up. Her coral lips blow at the surface for a moment, the liquid rippling a moment before she hands it to me. Then she picks up her own and takes a seat on the bright red couch I couldn’t pass up at IKEA last year, one foot tucked primly beneath her. Our shoulders touch and then she is lying her head on my shoulder. Her hair smells like the blackberries she picked up at the farmer’s market this afternoon.
I sip at the tea, comforted in the weight of her at my side. Akira is quiet as she sips her tea. I watch her profile and her gaze is fixated on the collage she created from the postcards I’ve sent while away. She has not displayed the photos of places she hasn’t been, but the words I’ve written. Most are written in tiny handwriting, my attempt to give her more of my words when she can’t have me.
“One day I’ll take you.” I whisper into her ear, and I feel a soft sigh roll through her frail body. “Where do you want to go first?”
She closes her eyes and I sip the tea in my mug, a chipped souvenir from a trip to Florida. The mug she holds boasts greetings from the Grand Canyon.
“Somewhere remote.” She finally says as she opens her eyes. “A hut in the desert, cabin on the edge of a cliff. Someplace that time and people have forgotten.”
I kiss her forehead. “You got it.” She snuggles her body closer to mine and I set my mug down on the end table that was a nightstand in her last apartment. I run my fingers through her hair like silk. A small clump comes out entangled in my fingers, but I drop it behind the couch without letting her know. She looks up into my eyes and a smile plays on those coral lips.
I lean over and press mine to hers.
“I’ll take you anywhere you want to go, my love. Anywhere.” She reaches out to place her mug next to mine. She drapes her long, lean legs across my lap. I rub small circles on the ball of her left foot as she closes her eyes. Soon she is asleep, and I am still rubbing circles, a small comfort in her world of constant pain masked by medications and therapies.
I’ll be in London next week for a conference. How can I bare to leave her again?