Day Eighteen: Remote|A Kindness
He cherished the first few minutes of the morning, before the birds started up in the large pine tree outside the window, before she got up to make the coffee and turn on the radio. He liked to imagine the world had stopped, like he had come-to in an existential pause. He imagined their little cabin was the centre of the universe. Sometimes he even held his breath, tried to slow himself right down, to try to match the pace of the movement of time that the silence seemed to dictate. In the winter, before she lit the first fire of the day, he watched his breath unfurl above the blankets – slow and languid, like smoke.
Usually, he heard her rolling over in the bed in the next room. He knew the sound of the springs – had never fixed the bed – and could imagine her first inhale of conscious breath. It had been some time since they shared a bed but he relished knowing she was awake – and that he had beaten her to wakefulness yet again. He knew she was there before she knew he was. She must, even after all these years, still think she was always the first to rise. He might have allowed her that, in the beginning, as a favour – to give her time to herself. The allowance had become a habit - had turned into something else.
But he did not hear the springs this morning. He waited - longer than usual - until the birds started to go, and until he could even hear laying hens as they pottered around the yard performing their morning constitutional.
She could be sick, but it would be unusual. She had no way of catching something. Neither of them had had a cold in years – you had to come into contact with other people in order for that to happen and they kept themselves to themselves. He went out to get groceries every two weeks, but on those trips he spoke to as few people as possible and was in and out of the nearest town – Pine Creek – within an hour. He didn’t like to linger. He didn’t like to be away from her.
She used to go with him in the early years – into town – but he would often catch her glancing at shop exits, or on the verge of speaking to some poor woman in the cereal aisle, that he had to insist she stay at home. Yes, she was much more manageable when it was just the two of them. There were too many distractions out in the real world.