"Picture Worth 500 Words"

image Amanda Bauch
Sensing Sweetness

"Blind as a bat," he says to me as he crawls on the floor, looking for his glasses. I glance down at him from the bed, where I'm solving the crossword in the Sunday paper. His hand slides under the couch and emerges covered with dust. He rubs his hand on his pajamas, leaving a gray smudge on his thigh.

"I don't know where you left them," I say. "What's the first name of that actor whose last name is 'Sharif'? Four letters."

"Omar," he replies, now opening and closing dresser drawers.

"Stupid," I say, writing the answer. "I knew that."

Sunday is our day now. It's supposed to be a holy day, and it is, for I worship him. He came to me like a golden calf, bursting forth from flames of rebellion — hard, smooth, and refined. I was willing to break every commandment for him, and I have. Except for murder. I might be willing to do that too.

Once he finally finds his glasses (In the laundry basket. Who knows?), he joins me. My body drifts toward him, his weight deepening the dip in the middle of the bed. That dip wasn't there a few months ago. However, our combined mass, curled around one another, limbs woven together like vines of ivy, created an impression, one that the memory-foam mattress will never forget.

While I finish my puzzle, he flips through the rest of the paper. He shows me a picture in one section. The caption reads, "Two bats hovering around a hummingbird feeder at night."

"Do you think it's real?" he asks. The photograph seems as though it might be doctored. But I look at the bats: frail arms and legs, gentle curve of wings, tiny ears, eyes glowing red from the camera flash. They are beautiful, and I want them to be real. I tell him so, and he laughs.

"You want to believe everything is real." Usually I would be offended by his remark. He often tells me I'm like a child, still believing that the world is filled with magic and wonder. Tonight I accept that what he says is true.

I take the newspaper and set it on the nightstand. We chat about life. What color should he paint the kitchen? Am I going to quit my job? We talk as though it matters. As if these decisions have an impact on a future we will never be able to share.

Before long it is dark, and I can tell he's getting tired. His left eye always starts to twitch a little, making the smile lines dance. I turn off the light, and soon I feel him pressing against me, urgent.

Just like the bats to the hummingbird feeder, he is drawn to my sweetness in the dark.

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