I found the drawing when I came home from the café today; she’d left it behind the screen door, in a black silk envelope, with a note scratched in charcoal on another piece of art paper that said: I need to take a break.
I’m not sure what she means.
I pinned the drawing up on my wall, and the note next to it. Maybe she wants us to go on a vacation.
We were in the same drawing class, that’s how the whole thing got started. The first day the assignment in class was drawing boxes and cylinders, just to start feeling perspective and shading. It was harder than I thought it would be, and when I snuck around to check out everyone else’s, I said out loud how hers were good but dark. She bit my head off about how her husband was dead. I went back to my own work, but after class ended I asked if she wanted to go out for coffee. I heard death makes people hungry for sex.
I quit class a few weeks later. Art’s just not my thing. I have other things I’m good at.
The drawing she left me was my favorite of hers so far. It’s of a bag, a crumpled old brown bag, but she really captured it: in the dark of the lines of the crumples, it’s tired, like around someone’s eyes, or like the stripes of a tiger, there’s fierceness there, too. In a bag.
Her husband was something like ten years older than her, and she’s twelve years older than me, so mine is the youngest flesh she’s touched in a long time. She was only married to him the last four years, although we make love like she was married to him her whole life, like she’s hungry for it. She disappears sometimes, under me, like she’s gone somewhere else, and I have to work extra hard to help her come back to the present. She’s lucky to have me.
The opening of the bag, you can really tell it held something. At first, I thought, a whiskey bottle, but when I asked, she said, lunch? Now I think, ice cream, she eats a lot of ice cream, or I think, maybe a gun. There’s a darkness at the opening of the bag, if I could see down into it I’d know what it held. Sometimes the lines on it look like a face, like his face.
There’s this picture she loves of her husband, from not long before he died. It’s the way the eyes look, she thinks he looks loving and deep, but I think he just looks like old skin and old-skin smell. He’s not here, anymore; anyway, I’m her man now. I think she should take that picture down. Probably I should take it down for her. Help her leave the past in the past.
The way the bag slumps over, it looks like it needs someone’s help. It’s so crumpled, it’s pretty amazing the way it stands on its own.
I keep calling her house. There’s still no answer.