by Susan Wadds
It wasn’t the first time. He’d known about the others but chose to climb the stairs, bring wine, and sometimes a record to play while they made love. He was partial to blues while she was more of a folkie, but the blues was good with sex. Fewer words. Maybe he heard the high and low notes of post-coital laughter sloshing with the bathwater, since the bathroom wall met the hallway wall, which is where he stood holding a bottle of single malt. Knocking anyway. She might have thought it was Marianne which would explain why she was still laughing when she opened the door. She was as sorry as she was dripping, the towel gripped over her breast. What neither of them fully understood was why that time—him on one side of the threshold, face like wax; her on the inside, mostly naked, mostly sorry and no longer laughing—wasn’t the last time. He stepped back, the river lap of bathwater splashing in his ears, a man he couldn’t see rising from the cooling water. Unable to pull close the retreating tide of her, he carried the precious single malt down the stairs and out into the street. He could have emptied the bottle directly into his heart. She wasn’t calling him back and there was no reason to return. And yet. He’d written in her diary, a passage she discovered much later, that if she heard a sound behind her, a sound like stones, and if she turned quickly enough she would find some torn-out part of him. What he doesn’t know forty years on is how often she’s passed by his house. How often she plays the blues. How many poems she’s written. Or how her dreams resound with stones rolling in the tide.
Author of What the Living Do, Susan Wadds’ publication credits include pieces in The Blood Pudding, Room, carte blanche, and Azure Magazine. She is the winner of the Lazuli Literary Group’s and The Writers’ Union of Canada’s prose contests. Susan is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and a certified Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) writing workshop facilitator.