It’s difficult to accept that the person you love isn’t the person you’re with.
I remember the first time I noticed how much she’d changed since I met her, since we fell for each other. There had been signs, I suppose, but I hadn’t picked up on them. At least, until I noticed the extra toe on her left foot.
I didn’t say anything about it, and I don’t think she was even aware that it was there. I’d pretend to be asleep until I knew she was sleeping, and then I’d sit up and count her toes over and over again, thinking that I must be making an error somewhere along the way.
It took me a half-hour to work up the courage to touch them. I placed a fingertip on each of her toes, as this was the only way I could be sure that I wasn’t miscounting. Five fingers touched to five toes, and one left over.
I thought it would bother me a lot more than it did, to be honest. The more I thought about it the over the next few days, the more it seemed interesting instead of alien. It seemed unique. I found beauty in it, after a time, and enjoyed the dissonance of her feet next to mine.
I remember these times very vividly, very richly. These were the last times where I felt that we shared a sacred space.
I haven’t left the house in a month, I don’t think, and this is almost certainly why I’m feeling as anxious as I am. I’m afraid for her, and for what could happen while I’m away. We’re both happier when I’m at home.
She seems fairly content, and she’s starting to eat again. I’ve found that I have the most success in getting her to eat something if I turn off most of the lights first, although I can usually leave on the one with the orange shade. She seems particular to sour milk and cake, and I have to turn my back before she’ll touch it. She won’t come out if she knows I’m looking. It’s progress, but I don’t think I can leave her to her own devices, not for a while yet.
I do miss the time we used to spend together. We still share space — I’ll sit alongside the wall and read children’s books aloud to her until I hear the sound I’ve come to associate with contentment — but I’m not small enough to fit in the space under the bed where she spends her time.
The kittens could’ve fit there, perhaps, if they were still here. They had become so agitated over the past few weeks that it was in their best interest to find them a new home. I miss them, but I didn’t have a choice. Near the end, they had spent all of their time in the basement, and wouldn’t come upstairs to eat.
They’ll be happier elsewhere.
I wonder what she looks like, now. I seem to recall that I caught a glimpse of her once, when I walked into the bedroom without knocking first. Or at least, I recall remembering that this happened, but the memory itself is foggy, and unreliable.
Sometimes I’ll sit and close my eyes, and pretend that the noises she makes are whispers, the ones I’d hear when we were younger and simpler. I’ll find myself singing, nonsense words in a quiet tenor I didn’t know I had.
I think that it soothes her. I think she knows it’s a love song.