She comes through my door, her cheeks flushed. Winter is bitter cold outside, and she throws herself into my arms, looking for warmth, looking for my mouth. I take her to the couch, by the fireplace, that I have lit in preparation for her coming. It’s been two weeks since we last saw each other, and it’ll be another two weeks until I see Alice again, because last weekend was ladies-only. Their first time together.
Alice had told me all about it on Skype. I can sense the connection between them growing like a vine, extending new branches, touching all the corners of our lives, blooming. I can see the smile on Joan’s face next to me while we lay down on the couch. A smile that looks eerily similar to Alice’s on my screen the night before.
‘Hey, I can’t wait to hear about your weekend,’ I say.
‘I’m sure she told you everything.’
‘I want to hear it from you,’ I insist, my hand on the back of her neck.
She does that thing again, that half smile, half giggle, that sounds like Christmas ought to sound if it were true. She looks at me intently and begins her recount, still in my arms.
‘Well, when I got there she was cooking dinner, she roasted tomatoes until they were caramelized and delicious, and she mixed them with gorgonzola cheese and lentils.’
‘The Ottolenghi recipe.’
‘Yeah, it was amazing! Well, like all the rest. We had made plans to go out after dinner. But then it started to rain, big raindrops hitting hard the skylight above her bed, and we were cozying up on her couch, and…’
‘I guess we didn’t go out that night,’ she says.
This time, I do my own version of her happy giggle.