He sat on the bed- gloriously unmade- the cat between his crossed legs - its head resting against his chest- craning to look up at his face. The winter red beard, growing out slowly; a welcome distraction for the cat, which happily sat there in this unlikely position, while he rubbed behind it’s ears and lifted his glass back and forth from the table to his mouth. The cat stretched up: pawing at his beard, biting on it. He’d say suckling but he didn’t like the word.
She was naked in another room.
The cat continued its fascination with the brittle red hairs that pressed against the top of its head, and when it lent back- chin stretching; ears flat with the body it rested on- his nose. And the glass by the bed came back again and the cat could smell the ice cream in the glass, and lifted its nose. An empty bottle of Virgil’s left on the table. The cream clinging to the edges of the rim of his glass and to his beard every sip or two. The float tasted like coffee for some reason. The mix of the root beer and the vanilla ice cream left a strangely bitter taste in his mouth. He wanted a glass of water. And she was still in the other room, naked.
The cat was restless now: the beard no longer sufficient to keep it calm and irregularly placed on his lap. It turned itself, rolling to its side and stepping from his crossed legs to the pile of sheets beside them both. He pushed at the cat gently, an affectionate shove of disproval for the cats removal from their father-son embrace. The word embrace made him uneasy, and he pushed at the cat again. Falling sideways the cat rolled over to its back, digging its head into the mattress, pawing at its face. He could hear her turning the taps. There wasn’t much left of the Float. He could hear her pulling at the plastic liner, at the curtain. The space heater was clicking in the distance. He could hear the water in the drain and the silence of the steam filled room.
He knew without question how she would look: her hair wet and pulled back, her shoulders sticky with soapsuds. Her feet leaving damp size nine prints on the bathmat, the way she would scratch at her knee as she dried herself with the towel that hung from the hook beside the tub.
And now he heard sink taps running. She was brushing her teeth, winking into the mirror, finding pieces of towel dander on her face. The cat was curled on its side now: yawning. Outside the rain fell, icing the tops of the roads that had been covered in snow for the last few days. He swung his legs over the bed, stretching out his toes before pulling socks over his bare feet. Walking over to the door, he pushed lightly on the handle, closing the door to its frame, releasing the handle just as gently so as not to make a sound. Resting his head against the wood, he pressed his ear against the grain; wondering if he would still be able to hear her brushing her teeth. He waited, eyes closed, listening through the plywood and paint for a sign of life.
He, She, They.
Outside a Jay stirred in the tree and flew to the cold ground in the hopes of finding a stray worm, or a fallen pistachio nut from the fire escape where they fed the squirrels.
Counting to ten.
He moved his head from the door, stepped across to the window and cracked the top. Pushing his fingers through the inch he felt the rain against his nails, he felt his blood stiffening with cold. A fools lament. He looked back to the closed door, opening it in a hurry and stepping into the next room. He stood there, naked for the very same reason as she, and waited for the bathroom door to open; for the steam and lavender and expensive shampoo to billow out, to fill his room with what had been contained only in hers. To watch as she padded softly toward him; miniature puddles forming beneath her. To give her good reason. To wait for her to come back to him, irritated by the open window and laughing at the red socks on his feet.