“What’s that word? I sit next to you and I see you. But I’m not looking. I’m thinking of you in the future or in the past. More like how I will be when you sit a certain way. How I defined what I wanted you to be like. I defined the homes and I define the places and what we’ll do. I always leave what you feel as blank. You don’t seem to say much. Just do what you need to. It’s us by me. Then I look at you and only because you have a three dimensional existence do I feel disappointed. That all that I imagined right here culminated to this. To us on a bed. Or across the table. Or looking away from each other. Is it habit? Yes. Habit. It’s a way we’re used to. I don’t even realise you aren’t looking at me. Because I am looking at the grey of your sideburns. How it grows. Do you know sideburns have roots? And they branch out to your hair. I like how they do that. So beautiful. Because I remember not having seen that a year ago. That time we were at the posh birthday place with too much food and too many lights trying too hard to be like a dhaba? I knew it’d take a while but it won’t be too long before the little grey turns silver. Will you stand me if I don’t colour my hair, I wondered. If there would be a younger girl with lovely curls then. I don’t know. It’s silly. But it’s there. You should be flattered.”
She looked from the ceiling at him. His cheek pressed against her palm. His uneven stubble rough against her.
“Why am I trying to flatter you?”
“So you make it easier for me to cope with the fact that I got a better deal than I deserved.”
She looked back at the ceiling. Looking at a shape like a seven. Feeling his nose brush against her neck and rest there.
“You don’t make sense.”
“You make beautiful cabbage.”
“Will your boss have a problem?”
“With the cabbage?”
She felt his eyebrows raise.
“What? No. With the leave.”
“I’d planned this before the last time.”
They smiled into the darkness.