For Karen, Forever
I have always been rather obsessive when it comes to cleaning. Dusting. Vacuuming. Laundry. But I am no longer very motivated to wash our sheets. They smell like her. They feel like her. They hold her warmth like a dusty farm lane in late July. We can't always be together, so I cling to these sensations as a sock, statically charged, clings to the purple sheets we bought, the purple sheets that are but a placeholder for our purple, seaside Victorian.
I strip the bed, making mountains on the floor. I set her pillowcase aside so as to not disturb the way her essence mixes with shampoo and perfume, like lilacs and dogwoods on a rainy spring morning. The sheets are filled with golden hairs from my dog who is quite capable of knowing when we have finished making love. He begs to come on the bed, to wrestle with us and laugh and play and joke as we always do after making the kind of love that makes the stars jealous. But that's how you know you made love the way it should be made: when the aftermath is nothing but smiles.
The dog hair and dust flies like a blizzard as I pull the sheets off. And there is a tiny white sock. I can't recall the last time we made love and she complained about losing a sock. Normally, when it is time for her to go, I pretend to be a deep-sea diver and go under in search of the socks, the panties, the boxer shorts, the jeans that I suddenly never again want to restrict my body or hers. It's a game. Who can find them first? But this one went missing. The love and passion and ecstasy sent it to another dimension for I don't even know how many weeks. I don't know what it saw, what it felt, but I know the quivering between us was enough to loose it from her perfect foot. And I stare at it. And I hesitate for many minutes, afraid to disturb it. I finally place it in a little drawer I keep in our bedroom that contains the little effects she sometimes leaves behind. I finish stripping the bed, packing the sheets into what space is left in the laundry basket. The room is hot. I can smell the sunlight warming the ancient wooden beams. I place her pillowcase to my nose, smile, and lay it on the bed, as lonely as the sock was. I leave, looking forward to that pillowcase like the sock had looked forward to being found, to being given meaning.
I think that from now on, every time we make love, I will only pretend to search the depths of the sheets for a missing sock so that I might later stumble upon it and feel my heart beat the way one's would if stumbling upon the treasure he had been in search of his entire life.