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by Tony Press

This is the picture she left on my desk. My desk faces the window, which faces the west and the view of the river, if there were a river. There’s no river, never has been, and now there’s no Sadie.

This photo is like something from an early Playboy. Maybe it crosses the line from erotic to soft porn. Jesus, I don’t know. I know I never saw her wear this skirt before, though I remember when she bought it, but I’m looking at her now.

We met last spring in Cuernavaca, in the crazy museum packed with amazing stuff, stuff by and about Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo, and even Malcolm Lowry. I was supposed to be in Cuernavaca for just a week but Sadie couldn’t leave until July, until her teaching gig was over. My job was waiting for me back in California and I decided it could wait a little longer. I’ve never known a May or a June like those two.

Finally, not in July but the middle of September, we closed up our flat and headed north. First, the ninety-minute bus ride to the airport in Mexico City, and as we held hands and spoke almost not at all, we each — we learned later — counted the number of times our driver waved to buses heading south. He averaged more than one a minute.

On United 718 we still held hands, and made plans for all the things we would do “if not hourly, then daily,” and for those others “if not daily, then weekly,” when we’d set up a little nest outside San Francisco. And for those first few months, we did everything we said we’d do, early and often. I mean, Jesus, look at her. And afterward, curled up so close, we used to say, “five hundred words, please,” and the other would tell a story, just like that.

Now it is January — Janus — the God with two doors, or something. Every door has two sides, that’s God’s freaking truth. Sadie finally plumbed the lack of depth to my depth, and away she went.

I love this photo. I do wonder who took it, but hell, at least she thought enough of me to leave me a copy.

Tony Press tries to pay attention. Sometimes he does. His book Crossing the Lines — Stories by Tony Press appeared in 2016 (Big Table, and he’d love for you to buy a copy). He has received two Pushcart Prize nominations, one Best of the Net nomination, and one Million Writers Award nomination. He lives near San Francisco, has hot chocolate frequently, yet has no website.