She stood in the doorway with big sad eyes holding a broken cigarette.
“I left him,” her shoulders slumped.
He grabbed her hand and took her from the doorway to the couch where the sunlight warmed her long black hair. She laid down, looking rather small. Her dress collapsed into folds of blue. The cigarette plopped onto the floor in two pieces.
He sat across from her in a chair that was too short. A dull ache emanated from his chest as he looked at her pale limbs.
“Want something to drink?” he asked, trying to look out the window behind her at the falling leaves.
Her face pressed against the cushion so that it embellished her pout. She moved her lips, but barely any sound came out. He couldn’t tell if it was a yes or no, but then she started working her shoes off, one pressing on the other, just staring vaguely at his hand. A shoe clopped onto the floor and she started on the second, disadvantaged with only argyle covered toes for leverage. He wondered how long he could remain both serious and impartial.
After a few more weak attempts, she looked up at him, toes slipping off her heel. He kept his eyes on her little production, grinning too much. She buried her face into the cushion. A muffled whimper disguised a laugh, then she went limp with one brown shoe still on.
His pleasure at this was slightly audible. Some humored sound escaped through his nose or in the shifting of his body, or both. A tiny “No” responded from the cushion.
He stayed the impulse to become too pleased again, she had to be taken seriously before they could laugh and kid. He thought about putting on a record but couldn’t tear himself away from the opportunity to look at her. She looked good disheveled. Her foot moved a little but the curtain of raven hair stayed still. She started pushing on the shoe again, then unearthed herself and glared at him.
He looked at her straight faced. She sat up, hair falling all over and snaked an arm toward her foot, thin silver bracelets twinkling on a thin wrist. They stared at each other while she tugged awkwardly on her heel. Her dress didn’t cover her knees.
“How about some tea?” He sat forward, clasping his hands together. She looked at them and stopped pulling on the shoe. The leaves looked like they were piling up behind her back.
“I can’t stay with someone just for love.” She studied his fingers. “I need more than that.”
He refrained from all the easy things he could do at that moment like brushing aside her hair, or taking hold of her foot and pulling the shoe off for her.
“I need stimulus,” She looked around the place at all his things, records, plants, old maps, piles of books, a hammock. “I need unity in independent but complimentary pursuits, and fun goddamnit.”
“I’m making you some tea!” He got up. “It’ll be just the thing.”
She nodded approvingly. Then kicked off her other shoe. Clop.
“Oh, look the leaves.”
She watched a few of them fall by the window, then watched him in the kitchen. He had real tea with loose leaves that you boiled in an old teapot. She thought he looked solid standing there, with everything blowing around outside.