I rose before sunrise, whispering at all my belongings to gather them near the door. Packing ahead of time is for organized people. I don’t want to be one of those monsters who plan a month away to the exact second.
Had you been awake, you would have blessed me with your tired, raspy laugh, as I scrambled to fit yet one more pair of shoes in the corner of my suitcase. I’d rather let you sleep, long goodbyes are a curse to a traveler.
I grab a clementine from our bowl of fruit and stuff it in my purse, knowing I will likely forget to eat it. I’ve carried clementines far and wide, let them become bruised and white with absentmindedness, across oceans and deserts, past the unsuspecting eyes of countless border custom agent.
Displaced fruit are my good luck charms, and the thought of your incredulous, yet accustomed smile upon my return, when I find blue dusty citrus at the bottom of a bag…I don’t think I could live without it.
When I think I have everything I could possibly need, I slip between the covers where you are still snoring peacefully. My toothbrush was packed somewhere in the black hole that is my luggage before I could remind myself to brush. I am still chewing on a cluster of breath mints as my arms reach for you under the sheets.
You blink awake as you inhale deeply; hair spray, perfume, peppermint, the scent of my departures.
We don’t need words. With a shadow of longing in your eyes, you are the child that opens the jar, releasing the afternoon’s catch of grasshoppers. I was always drawn to this endless reserve of love inside you. From the top of far towers, or across whole seas, I still see its shine, and after a time I will follow it home.
Every last kiss feels like a before-last kiss, but it is time to go. The sight of your peacefully sleeping face is fresh in my mind as I step on the porch and close the door behind me.
I’m so caught up already missing you, that I barely notice the object in the corner of my eye, descending from the sky at an usual and even alarming rate. My keys hit the bottom of my purse as the collision occurs, about ten houses down the road. The shock wakes me from my resolution, like a hand shaking me awake after a wonderful dream.
It’s an airplane, maybe the one I would have boarded in a few hours.
Fire and smoke break apart the sky as screams and sirens rip across my beautiful morning. A wave of dust spread up the street and inquisitive faces begin to pop out of windows, carefully opening doors.
Standing still, my gaze scans the ground from side to side for a decision. I suddenly crave the warmth and safety of our nest, yet my hand, that is still firmly holding my suitcase, is sodden with the sweat of excitement.
I find and hold my clementine against my breast. Turning my back to the disaster, I start walking.