After we’ve fucked ourselves to oblivion, after I’ve sated all your appetites and eased your restless heart, I will rise, leaving you to languish in my bed. While your breath stills and your sweat cools, I will repair your suits of many stripes.
Later, when you leave, you wear your faithful husband suit home – the loving, I’ll-never-leave-you father suit, the upright Church-on-Sunday man suit. It is a good, loose fit to embrace your wife and hug your children.
When you take the kids to the park for a walk with the Labradoodle or some such ridiculous thing on fine weekend days, you wear a suit of casual cords and college pullover. I sometimes walk that way to watch from afar as you kick a ball for your boys and the dog to chase. The easy laughter, yours and theirs, sends me home to tack my eyelids shut, but still I see you reflected behind my louvred lids.
Friends of friends of not friends of your wife tell me of dinner parties where the hosts serve quinoa salads and responsibly sourced proteins. Those nights I stew in the sweat of my imaginings – you in your formal suit with crisp white shirt and dashing tie, your hand at the small of her back, the harmless flirtation with her best friend. Those nights I stab my talented fingers over and over with the needles of my art and smear my blood on your passionate lover suit hanging in my wardrobe. Those days without voicemails or endless nights when loneliness and bitterness swell between my sheets, I take your suit from the cupboard, finger its warp and weft, remember and wait.
You wear the buttoned up good son suit of jeans and tailored plaid shirt to family gatherings at Christmas or Easter. On duty at the barbeque, sleeves rolled, beer in hand, your smug mother and her sisters cluck over the man you’ve become. Only I know the man you are.
On a romantic long weekends, her birthday, your anniversary, in Venice or Prague, you slip on another suit, topped with a Panama hat for a touch of panache but after too many missed gym days, too many great meals and too many bottles of fantastic wines, your suit will begin to feel a tad tight.
When your pockets fill with kids’ snotty tissues, lost Lego bricks, shopping lists, and quotes for the new kitchen, the new bedroom, and bills for her spa days when you are willing, but she is not, you know it is time. You pretend otherwise. You carry on, laugh too hard, try too hard, until your waistband abrades your burgeoning paunch and a button comes loose or the zipper sticks and the jacket pinches across the shoulders.
Then you accept it is time.
Time to call me – from the office before she picks you up (it’s her car day), or the supermarket car park while she shops for your food or the night time garden where you go for a sneaky cigarette while she reads your children their bedtime story.
When you return to me, I light candles so the room shimmers. You let me unpick the too tight, everyone’s good guy suit from your body, seam-by-seam, stitch-by-stitch, fuck-by-fuck. Then when you are free, I run my hands over your unchanging skin, close my eyes and bury my face in your hair. My breath inhales your smell and my tongue tastes the need on your skin, the want in your mouth.
I swear you to obedience – lie back, do not speak unless I tell you, do not react unless I tell you, do not move unless I tell you. You leave me to explore, to discover and to remember. Those nights, your body is my book of Braille, those nights your body is my oxygen, those nights your body is my song. This is the only way I know to keep you after you leave me again. As you do. As you must.
Afterwards, I watch you sleep, naked, your body still mine. Before you wake, I rise and go to my table, thread the needle with my recriminations, my unfair demands, my drunken lies and begin to sew; the seams a little looser, the zip smooth again, the pockets deeper, the button reinforced on the generous waistband.
Everything is ready for when you wake.
Shannon Savvas is a New Zealand writer who divides her life and heart between New Zealand, England and Cyprus. Flashes and short stories have been published online in journals in NZ and US and in anthologies. Winner of Reflex Fiction Winter 2017, the Cuirt New Writing Prize (Galway) 2019, and Flash500 flash fiction (Summer 2019). Twitter: @ShannonSavvas. Instagram: Instagram.com/shannonsavvas Web: shannonsavvas.com.