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It was 104 F that day. When the sun went down it was barely any cooler. We turn the ceiling fan on to its highest setting, its helicopter wind carrying the sound of my voice away. Without words, he touches my steaming skin. I struggle to find comfort in his hands, though I really want to. I have avoided his skin for weeks, only seeing the dark spots behind him. But here he stands in front of me, falcon’s wings spread out in swirls of hair over his heart, and I know what is real.
We make love, drowning in our sweat-soaked sheets. The fan dries the places on us where we decouple. When I close my eyes I feel my hands running down the backs of all the lovers before him. The men especially. They didn’t know what it really meant to enter me. They didn’t know they were becoming me, creating me, taking me, being overtaken. They didn’t take it seriously. But even in the shadows of all our dissatisfactions, he does.
I roll over and beg for mercy. These affairs can go on for hours lately, but my skin is sticky, and my thighs are tired. He lay on his back, panting. It is exhausting to love this way.
We hadn’t expected this closeness. Our winter had not prepared us for the heat of a Mexican spring. But we are here. We have made this home. So better to find out why, when we have shared a bed for years, I have struggled lately to remember his scent. I used to be buried in his arm when we lived in a winter place, but now I keep my distance.
We have been contained in this house together in this heat, with not a legal road to the beach in sight. As the world shatters outside, suddenly this decision to be each other’s allies above all else comes back like last night’s dream.
Afterwards, we go outside and dangle our feet in the twilight reflections of our pool. We speak of going somewhere else. To a cold place, where my skin would be wrapped in fabric most of the year. No errant leg to catch his eye. No exposed back dripping with one single bead of sweat. Just us, swaddled in wool and denim, searching for fire.
The water of our pool beckons me so I drop my dress and slide in. It’s amazing to feel that silky, cold embrace — it captures my breath. I step out and wrap myself in a towel that my four-year-old daughter had left in a pile on a chair earlier. I pull it close, the curls of terry cloth sopping up the drops from my hair.
It is never clear where we are going, I say as he follows me inside. You’re right, he responds.
We are either foolish or brave, depending on the person you ask.
I shower the scent of chlorine off my skin. The water streams down my face and I wonder what it would be like if I stopped counting all the times I have lost or won. If all I did was keep enough of him in my heart to want him around. I towel off, slip into bed, and curl up next to him.
In the heat of our bedroom, everything melts. One soft, satisfied sigh escapes my lungs. I rest my hand gently on his bicep and, for the first time in a long while, am happy to feel the heat of his skin.
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