In his backyard, sitting at the antique bistro table they bought at a flea market, he watched morning turn to afternoon; the sunset, coloring the sky orange and purple. He’d lost entire weeks this way.
His work email chimed with new messages. A song, which once tightened his chest. Not anymore. Not since he’d taken to sitting in the backyard, beside the banana plant, as far from the house where his wife laid in their bed, as he could get.
Months bleed together, like a scarlet rag mixed in with the whites. He knew it was winter by his breath, which hung in the air like a cloud, and by the way the brown leaves on the banana plant outnumbered the green. He didn’t dare prune them. They acted as a blanket, keeping the plant warm.
He thought he’d build a fire, watch the wood burn down to white hot coal. Embers floating through the air like magic. But it was a lot of work, building a fire. It was easier to just pull on the wool socks he’d bought for their Iceland trip and the wool cap he purchased in County Cork that time they drove around Ireland, which now seemed like another world ago.
Instead of boarding planes for faraway places, he now sat in the backyard, bundled up like a banana plant, obsessing on all the decisions he made, which had brought him here. (He reminded himself there were worse spots to be. But found little comfort in that type of thinking.)
He went inside only when absolutely necessary. He pissed in the corner of the yard, careful not to get any on their brand new, white vinyl fence that had already been stained by his tears. He wasn’t sure where they came from. But knew, once they started, there was nothing to do but wait and have faith they would pass, eventually.
At first, he hid them from his wife, who came out to check on him with such regularity he wanted to scream. But when it became far too cold, she stopped coming out. If she did come back, he decided he would hide nothing. He tried convincing himself it was the brave thing to do. Only, he didn’t feel so brave with those tears running down his cheeks.
One night, he moved from the bistro table to the hammock where he fell asleep looking up at Mars, glowing orange amongst the white stars.
He woke up to what he thought was the sound of someone tapping their long fingernails against the top of the wrought iron bistro table; but really, it was his teeth, chattering. His body’s attempt at warming itself, something beyond his control.
The noise of his own teeth still echoing in his head, he thought of his bed, where his wife was asleep, underneath the down comforter, which had once been so warm but was now a wet blanket, impossible to get out from under, to be avoided even when the alternative was frostbite on a hammock, in the backyard, beside the bistro table and the banana plant, ill-equipped for the cold, its survival dependent on its dead parts.