No 31

It was her ankle that did it. That little bony bit which casts a shadow down towards the heel. If only he could capture her ankle, he thought, All would be well.

Later he wondered if perhaps he had aimed for the wrong body part. There are so many other crevices and stretches of skin that could have done the job better, been of much greater significance.

For Laura it was different. She was more interested in the curve of his ear. That bit at the top where it folds in on itself. Right from the start she longed to whisper all her secrets into that tiny space.

Later she realised her collection of stories could have been contained elsewhere – between fingers, inside mouths, underneath toes – but by then she had nothing left to say.

In the end it lasted sixteen years, ten months, three weeks and five days. Not bad, but not the lifetime they had imagined. At first they recalled whole chunks, but soon enough they found it hard to remember anything but pieces – a fingernail here, a hair follicle there. Eventually it came down to where it had begun: that anklebone and the top of an ear. Love. It’s hard sometimes to understand.

© Mary Paulson-Ellis, 2013