The Distance Between Rooms
by Barbara Caceres

And he would not go when she wanted him to
would not leave her with the speed of a Maserati
or the stealth of a nighttime bomber
he lingered and hovered and made his presence known
playing with the coins in his pants pocket
dragging his feet in the gravel driveway
he wouldn’t speak to her for he knew she wouldn’t answer
and his lips pursed into an ugly pucker to keep words from coming out.

She moved ghost-like in the same rooms he inhabited
fixing her near catatonic stare at some invisible point on the wall behind his head
he followed the impressions her feet left on the carpeted floor
he drank from her glass, fixing his lips on the pale coral color of a lipstick smudge
and when she left their bed at the same time every morning
he quickly awoke and rolled his tired body onto the still warm sheets where she had been

They made love again and she counted the ceiling tiles
but no words came from her mouth and her tongue turned to heavy pulp like a wet newspaper
and he mowed the lawn leaving perfect intersections in the grass
all the while hoping she would appear on the door step with a glass of ice tea or lemonade
she ironed military creases into his work shirts
occasionally stopping to watch him from their bedroom window
and every day when they passed each other in the narrow hallway of their home
he knotted his hands into tight fists to keep from grabbing her in a desperate embrace
and bit his lip to keep from crying out, “I’m sorry!”
and she sighed, walking in the opposite direction, knowing he would never leave.

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