sleeping alone
i want to believe—prologue

we never say goodbye


Shall I tell you a story today?

Do you like the sound of my voice in your head? I hope that, when you read my words, you feel the surface of what I'm touching and experience the taste on your tongue. And I hope I sound girly and strong and smart and sexy and funny, but mostly I hope I sound interesting. I hope my words are fragrant enough to draw you in.

Once upon a time there was a woman who liked to watch a man run. Any man, sure, but most particularly, this man, long and lean and earnest. She studied him as an artist studies a nearly-finished canvas. She watched his chest rise and fall with the cadence of his steps, and the way his shoulders moved up and back in corresponding rhythm, and even though she wasn't quite close enough to hear, she could easily imagine the increasing strain of his breath, the quickly exhaled puffs matching the beat of his sturdy heart.

Now and then he'd shake his head to fling the beads of sweat from his hair, and it reminded her of a boy she once knew and loved. Truthfully, that was a boy she imagined loving, not one she actually knew at all. But this many years later, the memory was just as good as reality might have been. She saw that boy in the man's face as he ran his hands through his hair, but she appreciated the sinewy strength of the mature adult he'd become. 

She saw all of this in her mind's eye as she sipped her coffee, sitting in the bookshop by the window facing the street. She had every detail memorized and for many years hoped that someday she and the man would meet so that she could marry reality with the short reel she carried in her head, but now, after so much more time passed, she knew it would probably never happen. So, she contented herself with building memories from the photographs he once shared, and from all those afternoon phone calls in years past.

He's older now, they both are, of course. He wears more lines on his face and she wears more heaviness on hers. But she knows the sound of his voice will have changed little; she remembers the shift in tone when he is optimistic and when he is concerned and when he is aroused. And she knows he is still strong and can still run fast and far. Those are the best things to know, for now.