stained

Tangy sweet bitterness of newly fallen blades permeates the still air of the house and she is distracted by the distant reverberations of the mower.
She doesn’t hear his words, not at first.
They settle into the lull in the gardening, carrying gently through the room until they catch her.
“Say the word. Just say the word and I’ll go.”
She starts but does not turn, her eyes catching the red stain on the linoleum.
Once a brilliant coral that they laughed about and covered with the vase, the one with the chip that only his mother would notice, it faded into the red of blood marring the tranquility of their kitchen. She traces her finger over it lightly now, wondering if they ever tried bleach.
“Okay,” she allows, not because she doesn’t have another word, the word he requires–she does have it, right there on the tip of her tongue–but she needs a moment to fill the time.
She was ready. Five minutes ago she was ready to say it:
“I can’t do this anymore. Go.
But now he’s said it first.
The sickening saccharine smell of Spring has crept through the drapes and settled over the wilted plants and her, too. She breathes in its fragrance, drunk in the lingering luxury of dogwoods. Spring is young and innocent and it has deceived her into thinking the frost is gone, deceived her into imagining the heat will last, deceived her into waiting for bulbs that will never bloom.
Possibility? She’s drunk with it.
She misses his glance, the way it lingers.
His eyes are hazel, not brown. For three years she thought about little dollops of caramel that they would produce with mops of brown curls. “Comparing my future grandchildren to food is disgusting,” his mother commented.
“Your mother is a bitch,” she commented later.
Their little dollops would have brown eyes, like ours she mused, aloud until he stopped listening.
She loved his eyes with the too-straight lashes. She loved the golden flecks that caught in the sun and rendered him beautiful.
The fourth year was different. It took four years to notice.
“What color are your eyes,” she asked over the silence of dinner.
Not an uncomfortable silence–they weren’t fighting. They fumbled over salt and pepper and their legs didn’t touch.
But they didn’t fight.
He shrugged.
“Hazel.”
“I thought…I thought they were brown.”
He shrugged.
“Did you add more salt to the roast?”
“It isn’t a roast. And no. I thought your eyes were brown.”
“Oh.”
Now she bristles. He said the words first. It’s different. The words sound different emitted from him. Tinny and false.
She will leave him. She will live without him. He will miss her.
Five minutes ago she wanted this. She’s sure she did. She was going to say it, too, but she was busy and caught between the dishes and the infectious intoxication of direct sunlight and the words slipped from her mind.
She twists the ring around her finger, dragging it over her knuckles and placing it on the counter.
It tugs at her chest as it scrapes across the counter under his fingers but she does not cry out. The sun meets the diamond and creates a prism on the linoleum, hiding the stain.
Their eyes meet and she would swear now, in the sun, she would swear they are brown.
She wonders if they know each other, really.
Go.
He does.
She wonders if he knows her. If he does he’ll know she wants him to come back, eventually.
Go doesn’t mean forever.
Go doesn’t mean go for always.
She wonders if he’ll know she said it because she didn’t want him to, but she really didn’t mean it.

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