Because I didn’t want you to leave, but I knew I had to let you.

I wandered around the house today and thought of you.

I opened the side of the closet where you nonchalantly hung your shirts, and plunged my face into the fabric; filling my lungs with the scent of your day-old laundry detergent, caught between the threads.

I put on one of your jackets and fell asleep in it, wrapping the fleece around myself as tightly as it would go. And woke up and thought you were here, smiling to myself as I rolled to the side of the bed usually reserved for your head.

I traced my fingers over the glass bottle of cologne you left sitting idly on my shelf, and spritzed it across my shoulder blades to remember you; uncorking a rush of nostalgia that flicked on a crackly slideshow featuring old photos of you.

I scrolled through old messages on my phone – re-reading each word as if making my way through a delicate degustation requiring slow savoring, holding it on my tongue for a few seconds until I felt it melt in all its deliciousness.

I played the song we danced to in the car at the traffic lights while I ate lunch, and laughed thinking of the faces you pulled, lip-syncing to it like no one was watching.

I turned the shower on as hot as it would go, to burn you from my skin, and found your forgotten body wash peering up at me from the side of the bathtub, letting myself imagine, just for a minute, it belonged there.

I held your face in my mind all day.

The face that looked back at me this morning before you left; that sad, strange reflection in your eyes.

I kept my jaw tight as you turned your back to go, not wanting the words to escape. The words, “I don’t want you to leave,” because I knew you needed to steal back away to your own private place for a while. That odd space you never let anyone see; buried deep in the back of your brain. The furtive part of you hidden behind masks of agreeability and aggressive perfectionism; your beautiful, fragile inner boy. The one I once saw by accident when you lapsed and let your face soften and your eyes turn glassy during an argument one day.

The house looked different without you in it today. It didn’t feel like a home. And I didn’t feel quite like myself; the silence between us spreading like oil chasing through an ocean, blackening everything in sight.

But I promised myself not to try to capture you and pin your wings down behind a glass frame; to be patient with you, even when the thought of you walking back through the door tasted so good it made my fingers dance above your name on my phone.

So I wandered around the house and thought of you today.

And I wondered if you were wandering, too. Wandering back; to a place we could both call home.

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Comment: What secretive or strange things do you do when your significant other is away?