Joy

by Laura Stamps


The last week of August,

and I awaken to the water

music of doves on my

balcony and the rolling

wing-beat of insects in

the trees as they celebrate

another hot, humid day.

When I open my eyes,

he’s watching me. Two

months ago in June, the

evening of his latest art

exhibition, he stayed

until sunrise. Now he

spends almost every

night here, even though

he doesn’t need much

sleep. “I like watching

you,” he said, after

I asked about those

long dark hours. “It’s

enough,” he said. One

of my calico cats breathes

quietly between us,

burrowed in the sheets,

her paws twitching

while she leaps through

dreamtime. He sits up

and slides the cat out

of the way, careful not

to wake her. “There’s

something addictive

about you,” he says,

as he pulls me into the

comfortable cave of

his arms. “What is it?”

A lavender abstract, the

one he painted for me,

hangs next to the bed.

Every shade of purple

swirls across the large

wrapped canvas, a melody

of color and movement:

buoyant, whimsical,

carefree. Just like him.

Like me. “Since my

divorce, I only do what

gives me joy,” I say.

“Anything else is a waste

of my time.” My single

life gives me joy. My

cats, the Craft, my plants,

my sewing business, my

condo. My freedom.

All of this. Sunshine

flows across the bed,

bouncing off the eight

pots of ruffled leaf

lettuce that line the

windowsill. The cat

rolls against our feet

and stretches straight

as a yardstick before

she curls into a perfect

circle. His hand, cool

on my arm, slips to my

hip, my leg, between

my thighs. I open for

him. A pentacle wind

chime hangs next to

his painting. It jingles

softly, strummed by the

rhythmic breeze from

the ceiling fan. “You’re

my addiction,” he says.

“I can’t stay away.”

His mouth meets mine,

hungry, playful, his lips

an exciting voyage.

I only do what gives

me joy. Anything else

is a waste of my time.

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