It's been three months now since my lover died. At night when I close my eyes I can still feel every curve and crevice of his muscled body. I can see his candy-pink nipples. And I can taste them. I feel his black chest hairs tickle my lips and remember the three white ones we discovered just before his 38th birthday this past July. "Do you still love me?" he'd joked. "Yes," I'd replied, quite seriously.
I knew his body almost better than my own. The smooth hardness of his shoulder against my cheek, the unique shape of toes, veins like blue rivers. Grooves, nicks, scars. Seven and a half years I made love to that body, that heart, that soul.
In the first few weeks after he checked out I would bury my nose in the silky-smooth fabric of a bright red and yellow shirt with a cannabis leaf motif - his shirt - and inhale deeply. The last physical thing left of him, that warm familiar scent, still alive on that shirt. It wasn't the first time my tears commingled with his sweat, but it would be the last. Eventually, I had to wash the garment and admit that he was gone.
Friends and neighbours brought food and flowers and gifts and love. Then, one evening, a friend called up well into his cups to offer his condolences. In a low murmur, he added: "And who's looking after your needs?" I knew he didn't mean dinner. The suggestion made me laugh. And cry.
Then, not long after that, a girlfriend tried to comfort me with: "Now you can find that man you've really been dreaming of." It gave me a slight sense of hope but mostly just made me feel empty. He was the man I'd really been dreaming of. My friend seemed to be talking about some successful lawyer with a goatee, some stout good man who could be trusted not to die on me.
Finally, a month after my lover's departure, I bedded a nice artist. Parts of the tryst made me feel good, very good indeed, and made me forget. But others only served to make me remember. As I careened toward orgasm, my body and heart screamed: "This isn't the one who knows!"
How could he know? Know me the way my lover did: the history of my toes, the science of my thighs, the art of my clit, my ass, my heart. Like two dancers with complete knowledge of the other ingrained in their souls: the way she moves, the way his breath quickens, what it means. And when the apex appears, her toes are best en pointe, legs flexed, not in a tangle!
So much of the bodily fluids conjured that night were my tears. All the great climaxes shared with my dead lover flashed through me, the great dance finally over.
There were a few other encounters with this artiste, hot and utterly delicious. Pulled aside into shadows, fast fucks are good for obliteration. But sex as escape will not do, so for the time being I have chosen to be alone. Just me and my magic fingers wreathed in the glittering rings he gave me over the years.
And when I come, I dive into total communion with him - his spirit. My little death to his big one. No pun intended. There are no necrophilia fantasies here, though I did kiss him after his departure, or rather I kissed the body that once was him.
I leaned over and kissed his forehead, which had housed such wit and fever at times. And his lips, cold and bluish, not the warm lips that had kissed me so lingeringly and eagerly the day before he died.
We had separated not long before he died; he wanted it that way.
Then, in the week before to his demise, he told me he loved me and missed me.
And then came the kiss. A warm, embracing kiss with a provocative lash of tongue that took me by surprise. I put my fingers to my mouth as he pulled away. Then he was out the door and off to a job.
"He was coming back to you," my friend Kelly said when I told her these details after his death, "where he should have been all along."
Yes, he was always coming back to me. And I to him.
Occasionally during our years together we would split up, go our own ways, chase after illusions that turned into fly-by-night affairs with people who didn't care about us the way we cared about each other. And so we always ended up back in each other's arms.
Except for that last time.
When he chose the arms of the angels instead.