The moment between Franny and Leo – the question: if I leave, would you come with me, followed by a pause, a full and intriguing silence – that moment passes. It melts into the general conversation among the friends on Allison’s porch, as they gaze on the savage beauty of a wildfire smoke sunset.
It melts into the growing darkness, the dispersal of the friends back to their homes, each taking with them a private mix of hope and fear.
Franny and Leo walk to her apartment, an unspoken agreement that he will spend the night with her there instead of going back to his place. They close the windows to keep the smoke out, sip tea, offer attempts at stilted conversation, half-hearted cheer.
They make love tenderly, almost as if it is the start of a long goodbye.
In the morning, Franny rises at dawn. She has always loved the way the morning sun filters in through her bedroom window, a gentle harbinger of the beginning of the day.
She makes a fresh pot of coffee, the aroma filling the apartment, bringing Leo in its wake. The air looks surprisingly clear, so they open the windows, settle into the comfortable chairs Franny found at the local second-hand shop.
“Yes,” Leo says, out of the blue. Franny knows exactly what he means, the question he is answering, and her heart flutters. Still, she has to be sure.
“Yes, what?” she asks, clutching her mug of coffee.
“Of course. Franny, I love you so much. I would follow you anywhere.”
She bursts into tears. How can she explain why his answer, like their lovemaking, feels so much like the first step in saying goodbye?