He loved her, and that made her his. He liked to tell people that – his little joke at parties. “I love her, she’s mine. I licked that one, you can’t have it.”
He did not mind her lumpy middle, took her flat feet as part of the package that was his. She smelled of dust and acrylic sweaters. He gave it no more thought than one gives the attic of a house, not the part you live in or miss when you aren’t in it, just a familiar place that isn’t a consideration separate from the whole.
They travelled together all summer; backpacks on the train, youth hostels, hotels with coins for the shower, unglamourous squatting on the couches of acquaintances. As they stood on the platform one day, he stroked a lock of her hair.
“It’s so weird that this grew out of you. Just imagine, it was inside you once, and then it just grew, and now I can touch it.”
He didn’t listen to what she said in return, he was struck by how profound that thought had been. Maybe he would start a journal – a book of poetry.
She was looking at him expectantly, a crease had formed between her eyebrows.
“What?” he asked.
“That’s it. I’m done. I want to go to Edinburgh alone. I’m asking you to stay here and head your own direction. This just isn’t working for me.”
“You are creeping me out. Please, just don’t follow me.”
The train pulled into the station. They were the only two people on the platform. He wasn’t sure when the next train would arrive. This town was desolate. The fog was thick, he could neither see where the train came from nor where it was going.
She stepped on board, hoisted her bag up onto the stair and gave him one last look.
“It’s not love if you don’t know me.”
The fog enveloped her.