He left without saying good-bye. The door clicked behind him and Anna’s eyes opened. The gentle click was like an alarm to her. Big slams never bothered her. Big slams were meant for show, someone wanting attention, making a statement. He didn’t do big slams. It was the almost imperceptible click that banged in her head. Then fell to the pit of her stomach to carry it with her through the week.
Anna slid out from under the covers. With a slight limp she padded to the kitchen in her satin slips-ons, mules her aunt used to call them. She made a cup of tea. It was always peppermint to soothe her stomach, give her a little pep, and fill her with good memories of her aunt’s summer garden.
As she sat at the table, a chill seeped between the cracks of the worn window sash and frame. It mixed with the steam rising from her cup to make a ghostly swirl in front of the blackness outside the window. Anna watched it twirl and twist, a ballerina on pointe, a bit off balance, spinning out of control, fading into nothing.
She took the last sip and lifted her eyes to look through the window. She could begin to make out the shape of the perfect maple across the street silhouetted in the morning glow. No leaves, just long branches reaching out to no one. Under the tree sat a bench facing another tree across the cobblestone walk, a path that led lovers through the park to quiet spots where secrets were made. This tree, only a bit smaller, an ash sat opposite the maple. Arms still reaching but this one not so perfectly shaped. A heavy snow one winter snapped her branches leaving the ash a bit lopsided.
There they were. Two trees. One tall and perfectly shaped, the other a bit broken. Two trees not side by side but separated by a path. No one would think them a pair, certainly not by shape or genus.
He gave Anna a drawing of the two trees. Part of the drawing was above ground, two trees growing in their separate worlds. The other part of the picture was below showing the roots of both trees. One stray root from each tree grew and twisted towards the other until the two met embracing one another, coming together without being seen. That’s what he named it, the drawing, Coming Together.
The memory of the click of the door rose up from the pit of her stomach, the click that happened each week when he left for home. It would come back up and want to bang around inside her head reminding Anna that that was all there was to embrace until next week when he would visit once again to draw.
Drawing was his passion and she gave him the room. He couldn’t do it on his path outside. It wasn’t allowed in his place where it was looked upon as frivolous, a waste of his time. But Anna knew it was what filled his soul, hers too. So she offered her room and herself. Also something seen as an unacceptable frivolity.
They would have tea. Earl Grey for him. He was really a coffee drinker, but she assured him tea would do the job. She would eventually introduce him to her herbal teas, but that would come later.
Anna would drink her own mix, a love potion of sorts. Only she never shared it with him. Rose hips, lavender, and rosemary made a bit of a bitter brew, but she liked the bite. That’s what love was all about. The bite. The sting.
When he finished drawing, she would make another cup for each of them and bring out a sweet, always something with chocolate. They would discuss philosophy. Not religion, she demanded. She wasn’t religious. Just like the Earl Grey, he started with philosophy to make her comfortable. He eventually planned on introducing her to religion. But that, too, would come later.
Then he would stand to leave and Anna would touch his hand. And he would stay until just before dawn when the click of the door would announce his departure, fall to the pit of her stomach. And tea would be steeped, much like Anna waiting for another week.