The Light Catcher

Against his neck, she whispers that she never wants to leave him. She is not worried about the dogs, the house, or even her mother, as much as she is worried about him. The fireplace lets out a crack as a shower of embers sputters in the dark. The reflection bounces off of the window and onto the woman's long fingers. They are pale steeples casting shadows upon the man's chest. His wedding band flashes white as he reaches for the woman.

"I'm scared," he says into her honey blonde hair. He cups her cheek in his palm and he begins to sing. She recognizes the song. An old lullaby from his Australian childhood. She is soothed by his melodious tenor. She watches his adams apple rise and fall. Her feet are warm where her two dogs are curled up and snoring. For a moment, her mind wanders to the shadows that she tries to blink back. She thinks of all of the places she still wishes to travel to. She counts on her fingers how many friends she will miss. She plays the air like a piano while she does this. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... all the way to ten. And then over again. A list of names written in her head. Human beings aren't supposed to be given expiration dates, she thinks. They're only supposed to be given rough estimates. How could this be her deadline?

She waits for the man's singing to slow, and she watches for his breaths to deepen. She then slips from the warm sheets. Her dogs roll onto their backs when she moves her feet. She smiles at their pink piglet bellies stretched towards the sky.

She wraps a silk robe around her shoulders, and she pads barefoot across cold wood floors. She opens the sliding glass door gently, and she sinks into the night. The moon's silvery tip curls around a couple of overgrown ash trees. The woman meditates to the vibrations of the cricket's chirp, the distant cars screeching and honking, the occasional rustle as a leaf falls to the ground.

Her mind drifts to the shadows again. She looks to the stars. One million eyes watching her. She knows that she must have come from somewhere, and she thinks that is the place where she will return to. She is comforted by that thought. She thinks that, wherever she's headed, it will be something like a crackling fire, an old Australian lullaby, the soft belly of a puppy, the tip of a crescent moon and all of the stars in the sky.