“Wear your mask,” Leo says, cheerfully. He’s taken to reminding Franny to do this every time she ventures out, even though he knows it’s unnecessary.
She rolls her eyes, as usual, promises she will, heads out the door.
For the first time in weeks, they’d spent a night together. A lovely, difficult, sweet night. Neither could remember exactly why it had been so long. With most of their town shut down, it wasn’t like their schedules were too full to spend time together. And they had seen each other just about every day, at least for a few minutes.
But Leo had felt Franny’s anxiety, her need to withdraw, to have time to herself, and had tried to respect it. He’d returned to his basement apartment night after night, alone, hoping he was doing the right thing. He’d stay up til all hours, listening to music, working on projects, puttering, putting his worry about their relationship out of his mind.
Her warm early morning phone calls reassured him, even as they woke him after a meager amount of sleep. In the morning, she always seemed glad to hear his voice.
He was learning to lean on their love itself, instead of counting the things they did together.
Activities come and go, he thinks, but love stays.
Last night, she’d come for a dinner he made, a vast pot of spaghetti and a loaf of bread. It reminded them both of her first dinner party in her apartment, at least three lifetimes ago. They’d laughed and cried about all that had happened since, and as the midsummer light finally deepened into dark, Franny leaned her head on his shoulder.
“Time for me to walk you home,” he’d said, as he pulled her closer.
She’d responded with a kiss. She smelled of summer and sadness, and he’d been swept away by the power of her closeness. They made love, cried more, and fell asleep with his arm around her waist, nose in her hair.
Leo watches her walk down the street, sees her turn and wave, imagines the smile under her mask.
Love stays, indeed.