When he was standing before her in the stairwell she experienced that telescoping vision most common to movies of a certain era, a heavy menace swimming hypnotically toward a blurring and uncertain figure pulled backward through a swooning lens, fading to black.
He laughed, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
“Sometimes everything you say is a cliché,” she answered.
“’I love you’ is a cliché, too,” he said, “but you don’t mind when I say that.”
“Actually, I mind it very much,” she said.
“Don’t fight it,” he replied, “You know you’re crazy about me.”
The sound of a ringing glass, the ringing sound of light, the ringing in her ears. If he spent the night he was always awake before she was, why.
“Good morning, Sunshine,” he said.
They made love. He made coffee. Whenever they were in the kitchen together she felt the knives tremble in the wooden block on the counter.
She made eggs, beating them a thousand strokes.
“Is it really all in the wrist?” he asked. He rolled his r’s.
She rolled her eyes.
She cheated on him. He changed his hair.
She cried about it.
“Maybe we should take some space,” he said.
“Your words frequently betray a lack of original thought,” she replied.
They spent two weeks apart. He grew a beard.
Riding busses with dirty windows. She abhorred people who ate food on public transportation. He said she was a germ phobe. She remembered the time he washed his hands and held them in the air like a surgeon.
She saw him walking with a woman from a reading group he’d joined. She found out what book they were reading and read it too. It was a terrible book in which there was trouble in paradise, someone had a golden opportunity, and a thing of beauty was a joy forever. No wonder he talked like that.
He had never behaved in a threatening manner. She wondered what the knives knew that she didn’t know. She decided to become a vegetarian.
He emailed her a picture of a man with an apple hiding his face. She sent him a postcard of two cats, one of them yawning. He called her and left a message of falsetto sneezes. She returned a message of noises made with her hand in her armpit.
He dropped by to ask if eloping by sea was a cliché. He stepped closer to her in the kitchen. He was wearing a long black coat that made her feel like she might faint. She stopped chopping the kale. She held the knife at her side.
“Why are you looking at me that way?” he said.
“It might be the beard,” she answered.
“It was meant to be ironic,” he said, “but it looks good, doesn’t it?”
“It’s just dark in here,” she said.
“So you find love a little overwhelming,” he said, in his hand was a diamond ring. “Wouldn’t you like to live with me happily ever after?”
“Probably not,” she said.