“I’m doing it!”
“No.” I jabbed a solitary finger in the air. “No, Jackie. You listen to me. Do you hear that?”
“The determination in my voice? The lack of doubt? That’s the sound of willpower. I’m doing it this time. I’m in it to win it.”
“Oh, Alice.” Even through the phone I could detect the sympathy, the worry, the compassion, and perhaps just a wee bit of exasperation.
“Don’t you ‘Oh, Alice’ me. Milo is coming home tomorrow, and I’m ready for him this time. I’m so ready. I wrote a letter.” A letter which I’d already placed on his kitchen table along with a new houseplant—an anthurium, which had heart-shaped leaves. I’d wondered if the symbolism was a little too on the nose, but oh well. Too late now. He loved plants, and I loved him.
The day had come, and I was seizing it!
“A letter,” my sister said, like leaving a handwritten love letter wasn’t one of the most revolutionary things someone could do. I felt like a Bolshevik, a real radical, just . . . you know. Less murdery.
“Yes! A letter!” Spinning in a circle, I took one more look at Milo’s apartment to ensure all was as it should be and then skipped to his bathroom.
When he left on his months-long work trips, I was his designated plant-watcher and mail picker-upper. I also ran his sinks and flushed his toilets because dry sewer pipes sometimes stank, and prolonged stagnant water is never a good thing.
Sometimes I’d hang out in the apartment on my own, reading books or working. I loved his apartment. It felt like being with Milo but without constantly having to fight the eruption of butterflies every time our eyes met or we touched. Or he laughed. Or smiled. Or spoke. Or breathed.
Point was, I felt close to him here, even when he was gone. Large photographic art prints hung on the walls, remote and beautiful places he’d visited and told me about upon his return. His décor, the colors, were all cool and relaxing—sand, pebble gray, stone blue—and no matter how long he’d been gone, the bathroom always smelled faintly of his aftershave.
“So, you’re leaving a letter, exactly like the last time,” came my sister’s flat voice. She paired it with a sigh.
“No.” I ceased sniffing the bathroom and flipped off the light. “This is completely different. Like I said, this letter is handwritten. I can’t hack into his email server and delete it from his inbox this time, or hack into his Facebook account and remove it from his personal messages. Or hack into his Instagram, or his—”
“Yes. I know. I was present each time to watch over your shoulder because you wanted a witness to watch you not look at or read any of his other messages. What night should I keep free so I can watch you do it again.”
It’s true. My sister had been in the room with me each of the other eleven times. She’d watched me get in, delete my message, and get out. And yes, I realize hacking into anyone’s personal accounts is an extreme violation of privacy, which is why I’d told Milo about each of the hackings.
I’d say, “Milo, I hacked into your Instagram account last night and deleted a message I sent you. Jackie was there to ensure I didn’t look at anything else.”
And he’d say, “Okay,” and shrug those broad shoulders, a quizzical-looking smile on his handsome lips, his green, sparkly eyes unconcerned because he trusted me. Then he would offer me wine, which I always turned down. When we spent time together, ...