“Hi.” He knelt down next to her.
She was flipping through a new cookbook at the kitchen table, one of those Ottolenghi ones, marking off recipes she probably wouldn’t make anyway. Not out of lack of skill but rather lack of care to try anything new.
“Hi?” She met his gaze, eye level with him from where she sat.
“I feel like i never say hi to you.”
“But…we live together?” Her question made sense. They had been together for 8 years. Hardly strangers. If anything, she could anticipate all of his movements before he even made them. She knew that hearing him put his jacket on meant she’d hear the click of the door unlock. The swishing of a jacket was synonymous with a flick of a cigarette lighter. Like Pavlov’s dog, once she heard that material rustling she knew it would be futile to begin a statement or call out a question.
“But i never really say hi to you. So, hi.” The greeting was followed by an intense stare. She made a mental note that his eyes were actually gray and not blue.
“Well, then hello.”
“I love you”
“And i love you too,” she answered. Maybe a little too casually. She couldn’t get the slight mix of nonchalance and brevity out her throat. In fact, the declaration of love, while nothing new, was too direct for her liking. She wondered if ambivalence was a disease and made a mental note to google it later on WebMD.
He sighed. He was content with the interaction, likely not even noticing the flare of her nostrils when he got too close to her face, like when animals steady their ground to protect their territory.
He got up and opened the window a little more. “God, it’s finally spring.”
“I think spring is my favorite,” she said. Her voice got its springy lilt back. “Spring, fall, summer, then winter.”
“I keep forgetting you hate winter”
“Winter always takes me mentally from comfortably pessimistic to straight on nihilism. Spring is like, content complacency. Fall is cautious cynicism”
He laughed and went back to the couch.
She turned back to the book, flipping past all the recipes that required more than 4 steps. She heard the swish of his coat slip on and sighed, focusing her eyes on a harissa slicked carrot.
In a few months, the temperature would rise and she’d revel in the weight that humidity and despondency put on her. A big, wool coat you could curl up into and nap. But for now, in that moment, she was fine.