She stares up into the shower so cold she gasps for breath but not only from the water. The cold brings out the bruises on her palms, hardening them into blue-purple-green knots of flesh and bone. Her knees are shaking, she can’t keep herself straight up, she beats her fist against the wall. Beloved, beloved, beloved. She wants the illusion that she’d forgive him everything, that she’d be clay in his hands. He could mold her into any truth, anything he wanted, and she’d believe it. That’s what love is, remember, it’s the devouring heat. She crumples in a heap on the shower floor, like a damp dress, left across the clothesline, limp.
Once she placed her voice at the hollow of his throat and whispered, “If I ever lose your eyes, my eyes will not close until I find you again. I swear this.”
Outside the tin roof shakes with the white furious downpour, and she lusts for it, every pore in her body screaming. Wash the heat away from me, wash the heat away. She leaves the bathroom, crosses the room to the window. Bare feet, bare arms, bare head, the sari wrapped haphazardly around her body. Her fingers caress the smooth spines of the dark burnt orange shutters and she can feel the wind through the cracks. A howling love song.
She throws the window open and spreads her arms before the storm. Eyes flung open, head flung back. The wet cotton cloth becomes a double layer of skin to hide the bruises, skin that feels no heat, only water. The rain pounds hard, insistent, against the skin of her throat. Two syllable rain-drops.
Hus-band. Hus-band. Hus-band.
She throws the name into the mirror as she breaks it, as she throws its pieces into the street. This is only the beginning.
Once she dipped her fingertips in paint and smeared it over his closed eyelids, cobalt blue over the bones above his eyes and she whispered, “I am only as alive as you make me. You are only as alive as I make you.”
So she also believes he betrayed her with his ability to live without her. The way she understood love, it should have brought him to his knees.
Wait, here’s the irony:
Thirteen miles behind her, a man begins to walk in the middle of the road away from the bus that has been clogged with mud, and unbuttons his shirt. And breathes in the rain because it beats out the mystery of a woman’s name. He wants to hold her in his lungs so she cannot possibly escape because the only way out is through his mouth. And he would keep his teeth clenched, locked. To protect himself from her. To protect her from him. To re-learn the ways of breathing for two at the same time.
He will dream in cobalt.