Dave waits outside the door of Kyra’s house in his flannel pajama bottoms, white undershirt and moccasin slippers with arms half-crossed. Holding a steaming cup of coffee directly under his pursed lips, he cools it off and takes a sip. Looking down the street, he feels at home in his pajamas amidst the pear trees and the jumbled mix of houses varying in size and style. Perhaps tomorrow, if all goes well, he will be home.
He casually waves to the attractive divorcée down the street without encouraging her. She has lately been planning her walk to the newspaper in curiously questionable morning attire around the exact same time that Dave generally completes this daily task. She has been eyeing his youthful and masculine frame, usually shirtless, despite the chilly weather. Dave has remembered to wear a t-shirt today for this now reoccurring morning meeting.
Before the paper hits the door, Dave catches it and carries it in just as he has done every morning for exactly one year. He reads the date he already knows well with anxious excitement, “2.14.11.” Opening the door to the house he had come to inhabit little by little over the past year, he is suprised by the sight Kyra. She’s wearing her baby blue silk robe, barely long enough to qualify as a t-shirt let alone a robe, as she starts another pot of coffee and scrambles eggs haphazardly in the skillet. He checks his watch, “6:00am.” This scene usually doesn’t occur for another two hours. The plan Dave had so carefully constructed for the day was slowly beginning to unravel.
“Dave, don’t do it,” Kyra says with eyes focused on the skillet, feet bare on the hardwood floor, locks of wavy hair escaping from the clip unsuccessfully holding the tangled mass away from her face. With these words, Dave is quickly realizing that his plan is not going to go over as well as he thought, but he tries to smooth it over anyway in his typically lighthearted way. “Don’t do what? Gallantly grab the paper before it smacks the front door so my little sleeping beauty can slumber for two more hours and so I can trick her into thinking I’m the world’s most knightly knight in shining armor?”
“No, I’m serious,” Kyra turns off the stove and turns around on the balls of her small, bare feet before settling back on her heels and crossing her arms as she faces him. “I found the ring on the bathroom counter,” she looks down at her feet, “Don’t do it. We work, Dave.” She holds the small velvet box between her thumb and forefinger as if holding it in her hand would make it somehow stick to her in a permanent fashion. Kyra was right, for the past year, she and Dave just worked. They never asked anything of each other. Indelible lines, thick and heavy, yet unimposing lay as the foundation of “Kyra and Dave.”
These lines were never openly discussed. It had become practice, however, for the two to respect them. They shared the here and now, but never asked about the later. They shared a bed, but never the closet. They split the check, but never joined accounts. They split the chores, but never asked for them to be done. They shared space and time, but never the space in between the space they shared or the time in between the time they spent together.
It was Kyra who had set the precedent. In order to avoid ever becoming the dreaded “bland girlfriend-machine” of her past, she had decided early on never to ask anything of Dave. If he wanted to be with her, he would, and if he didn’t, he could leave at any time. In Kyra’s mind, it was better. Never asking too much of each other, meant that they would never lose any of themselves. In return, Dave had respectfully never asked anything of her, either. And until today, he had never had the urge to cross the line before.
“Dave, you know you wouldn’t want me if you really had me,” Kyra says in a feeble, yet determined voice that seems to travel slowly across the room to reach him. She says it like it’s established fact. She says it with her chin thrust forward, biting the side of her bottom lip while tears roll through the already wet tracks forming vertical lines down her face as if they are steel bars locking her into the tiny space she inhabits in front of the stove.
“That’s where you are wrong Kyra. I don’t want you if I only get to have the half of you I have now. I want it all. I always have. And you would know that if you weren’t too busy still blaming yourself for why your last relationship ended,” Dave explains, as he attempts to break into the cell Kyra has locked herself into. He walks over to her cautiously and grasps the sides of her face like he’s holding onto something immovable in a strong current. His hands electrify her skin in an instant and to leave his comforting touch as he grazes the nape of her neck seems impossible, but she must. She can’t go through the pain of losing someone like this again. So instead, she’ll leave first.
Hastily throwing on a pair of weathered jeans and a t-shirt, Kyra packs her cellphone and various essentials into a gym bag destined for Shell’s. Somehow she still can’t seem to ask anything of him, even if simply to leave her own house. The fact that this may be because she doesn’t want him to leave doesn’t cross her mind as she turns on the car and dials Shell.
“Shell, what is wrong with me? God, I’m a mess,” Kyra manages to squeak out as she drives too fast to Shell’s house across town.
“Breathe, focus on driving. What happened?”
“Dave was going to propose. I found the ring and I saw the little speech he had written all folded up in the box and, I freaked out. He talked about loving me for so long and how wonderful I am…it’s only been a year Shell, a year! Doesn’t this sound just a bit too much like my last relationship? And things were going so well, and now they are moving too fast and he doesn’t even know how I feel about him and if he did I would just scare him I’m sure I mean, ugh!” Kyra puts her forehead on the top of the steering wheel at the stop light to breathe for a second.
“Listen, Kyr, there are some things you should know,”
“What things? Did you know about this? That he was going to propose?”
“Just drive safe, and come over, we’ll talk about it.”