All the feelings I have about him are protective. From there you already know where I’m going: warm, tender, emotions that envelop like arms.
Sometimes, very late nights, I worry about him. I do not want him to disappear one day and come back, three days later, a changed man. So I put it out of my mind very quickly and think about something else.
“What is that?” he asked, picking up my foot from behind as if it were a horse’s hoof and nearly sending me sprawling forward. “I can’t see whatever it is. Get it.” I didn’t know whether to be angry or amused and I wanted to laugh but it came out like a short cough. He peeled something off my heel and set my foot down. “What is this?” he asked, scratching at a little black thing stuck to his thumb.
It was a photo corner, and I told him so. It must have adhered to my foot when I got out of the shower and walked around barefoot and it was somehow on the floor. “You’re such a bohemian, Lola,” he rolled it into a little ball and began to search for a trash can. “Whenever I look at you it’s like looking at my grandpa.” I swallowed. “Don’t you mean, um, mother? Or grandma, even?” He shook his head. “Damnit where’s your trash! But no, grandpa.” He turned around and looked at me. “It’s very comforting.”
“I’m fine, really,” I assured him. He eyed me. “Look, I have all the papers you requested. We can get to work right away. At least on a plan of action. Do you have the list of questions I told you to work on for me?” He was still eyeing me. “What’s wrong with your face, Lola? Your mouth looks weird.”
I was horrified before I even knew why I was horrified. I guess what’s wrong with your face is just something it’s never good to hear – I mean, it’s rather indicative of disaster, isn’t it? My brain immediately rushed through several possibilities – dry skin? a pimple! hives? not hives – a mosquito bite? Havana scratched me? I turned to his assistant. “What do I – do I have something?”
She narrowed her eyes at me, tilted her head, pursed her lips. “You kind of look like you just had a stroke.”
I have no power. There is only a certain amount of juice left in my computer, and then – well, as long as there’s plenty of kitten formula (and coffee) Havana and I will be fine.
The neighbors haven’t lost their power. They have twinkling lights and humming machines and laughter on the lawn. They also have a vintage camper that looks, at least to me, like a shiny silver bullet. They have dogs that bark incessantly in a lackadaisical sort of way – exactly like parodies of rich people speak, except with woofs. They sometimes have other animals in their yard but I think their tale of a family of small foxes that eats out of their hands and reads Martha Stewart Living to be entirely fabricated.
Alright, the reading part was perhaps uncharitable – but I spent the better part of two hours shifting on my feet, squinting at a hole about six feet away, being told I wasn’t looking hard enough. For the foxes. For the entire fox family, who enjoyed insouciantly popping out their furry little orange heads and blinking in the sunshine.