white blank page | Maria & Bruce


     Stay or go? 

But then, he’s already here, he might as well, he hasn’t spent two months with a quiet hope in his heart only to shy away from the prospect of seeing her. This will be the first of many such encounters and he reminds himself about Tokyo and the night of the party, before his world came crashing down; of the moments of validation, the moments of pulling desire   ( moments that tipped him into the unruly waters of hope and want ). 

              And he’s got his fingers curled tight around the handles of the bag, in case he’s wrong. 

The sound of Maria’s voice filters in through the quiet whispers of domestic white noise, the decision taken out of his hands by her arrival but his mind oddly at ease with the loss of control. Control had been secondary to the reconciliatory insight he’d experience during his absence – and there remained one person he trusted beyond his own limited scope. 

Although he can’t help feeling like a fish out of water at the moment, taken by surprise. Of course Maria not being home had always been an option, but he hadn’t considered Maria coming home.  From some sort of trip, the tension lingering along her lips from the terse conversation and falling as recognition sinks in. A false start forward but he leans back into his heels to keep himself grounded, steady, squeezing the worn nylon against his palms.  ( she might not even want to see him )

    “I’m back.”  Though that much she can certainly see, and a sheepish smile cross his face, nearly apologetic, and he clarifies:  “I just got back.” 

A soft inhale, and Bruce steels his nerves, bracing for the bitter bite of rejection, careful to let the words leave his mouth level and sure, confident in every nuanced sentiment they might imply: 

           “I wanted to see you.”   except that’s not exactly the truth of it… 

                   “I  needed to see you.” 

     She’s happy to see him, whole and healthy, just surprised that he’s here, even if it’s not readily apparent. Several more steps have her nearing the door, head still tilted, inquisitive despite his answer. There’s a scrape of laughter that she doesn’t deny, finding humor in Bruce’s stating of the obvious.

             “I see that.”

     Boot soles scuff the flooring when she comes to a full stop, leaving a berth of space between them that might not have been there before ( the night of the party, before things had gone sideways, flickers briefly in her mind ). Maria hadn’t expected this, the sudden reappearance. She’d started to make her peace with him leaving, their relationship as they’d left it ( whatever that was ). A re-fabrication of her armor, as it were. It was easier this way, or it had been. Easier without him standing right there looking sheepish and sorry, even if he didn’t have anything to apologize for.

     A hand slides out of her pocket, palm up to accompany the slow one-shouldered shrug that ensues. The keys dangle noisily from between her fingers and she remembers that they’re still standing in the hallway, the lowered murmurs from the coinciding televisions filtering toward them, invading the hopeful silence.

         “Well, here I am.”

There are so many questions she has, so many that she won’t ask unless he offers up the answers ( like some convoluted, tentative game of Jeopardy ). Where were you? What have you been working on? Were you safe?

                     “I got your postcards.”


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