For months, she didn’t say it. When he nuzzled his nose into her skin or her hair, she didn’t say it. When he kissed her during sex to the point it became something else, something that made her cry after, she didn’t say it. When he called her sweetiekins, trying it out after she’d called him baby and cutie and babydoll and he wanted to reciprocate but didn’t know how without being ironic, she didn’t say it. When they sang Leaving on a Jet Plane together, laughing, marveling, she didn’t say it. When she was singing The Cars and he turned from cooking dinner to kiss her and say, I shall miss you, Valerie, surprising her into tears, she didn’t say it. He held her that night, staring into her face for full minutes as the tears seeped out of the corners of her eyes and she tried to smile. Don’t say it.
Later, she saw the clothes he’d washed for her and folded on a chair, and she said it. She saw the shoes he’d left behind, and she said it. She saw the book he’d been reading, the chicken broth he’d intended to use, the thistles he’d left to dry on her balcony, and she said it. The shirt he’d left hanging in her closet, on which a trace of his scent still lingered. And she said it.
In her adult life, Valerie Wayson has lived in Texas, Madagascar, Iraq, and Georgia (the state, not the country). While she loves to travel, she has a problem with transition. She is currently transitioning from an overseas teaching assignment to a Ph.D. program in Creative Nonfiction at Texas Tech.