She said. “I always only remember the winding down parts of things.” Like she wasn’t stripping him down, as easily as bark off a tree.
He remained quiet, slowing to a stop on the brightly paved path. A little girl wheeled her bike past them, streamers flashing in the wind as she skidded to a halt near the flowerbed. He could see the shadow-shape of the swings and hear, distantly, tiny bright laughter. They were in the park because it was a good hot day and he wanted to see the boats on the lake.
Intent, she stalked past him. Tense words trailed after her.
“It’s just that, it’s a cog and we –” Helpless, she jabbed her arms into the air and he was struck, faintly, by how violent the motion was. “We aren’t cogs.”
The little girl turned her bell and with a bright tinkle of the bell, came back down the path. The rush of wind and her shout of happiness roused an inexplicable feeling in him that felt oddly like drowning. “Most definitely not.” He said. “I don’t understand.”
“We can’t be.” She walked away, the stiff-legged gait that reminded him of the stomp she did around their apartment when she was angry, or when she was particularly frustrated with her art or his writing.
He kept still, watching her retreating back: the robin’s egg jacket, the bright black of her soft hair.