“Darling, I’m coming home at last.” A sheet of lavender paper unexpectedly appears on the dining room table one morning. Her handwriting. Her little swirl of a signature. Her scent. Claire. Claire?? The miracle I’ve prayed for all these months. I lift the paper and hold it to my cheek, wet with tears. I trace the words and imagine her beautifully tapered fingers holding the pen, forming each letter. How? Does it even matter? I don’t question. I just rejoice. Claire. My love, my heart.
I look in the mirror, at the reflection staring back at me. Does he look old and haggard? Are those dark circles under his eyes? No, no, it’s just a trick of the light. He’s in the springtime of his life, as carefree as an April afternoon.
That night, I dream of our midnight adventure, the two of us laughing, running to the lake’s edge. “Race you to the middle!” We head toward the floating platform, cherry blossoms falling behind us like pale pink tears. The full moon is frozen in horror, watching the scene unfold. He cannot reach her, the current is too strong. She’s going under, going under. No, no, a misremembering! The cherry blossoms drift through the air like music, the moon has the face of a friend. She’s coming home, coming home!
When Hannah comes the next day to fix my lunch, I can’t wait to tell her the news.
“You’ll soon be cooking for two again!” Hannah smiles with anticipation. She’s been playing matchmaker for a year now, and probably thinks one of her suggestions has taken root. “Claire is coming home at last!” I don’t understand the sudden terror in Hannah’s eyes, followed by a bottomless sorrow. “But sir ..” “Now, now, Hannah, don’t spoil it.”