Sappho by way of Salinger

The house was gone. Two of the walls were still standing, but there were narrow little trees growing up from a bed of fallen leaves where the floor had been. The windows had long since fallen out, and there was no longer a roof, or any sign there ever had been one.

They stood there together in silence. It was impossible to believe that there had ever been a home here. Nothing was left which resembled the bright paint on the walls, or the soft chair they used to snuggle in. The years had eroded the walls, and worn away the surfaces of everything until there was nothing left but the masonry and strange green, crumbling mortar in some of the cracks.

He stood a few steps away from her, beside the smallest of the trees and fondled its leaves absentmindedly.

She folded her arms and looked over her shoulder into the unseen distance.

There was simply nothing left.

He opened his mouth part way as a line of verse from Sappho, by way of Salinger, wandered across his mind. His eyes refocused on the orange leaf between his fingers, and he closed his mouth gently. His lips were chapped, and the flap of skin under his tongue hurt. He tried to search his mouth with his tongue to locate the source of the pain, but it hurt, and he gave up.

She blew her nose, and pulled up the zipper of her coat. Collecting the rest of her things, she almost asked if he wanted her to grab his stuff for him, but stopped herself. Instead she stood there looking down at his keys, shoes, socks, and a handful of coins on the blanket she’d brought with them.

It had been a terrible idea to come here. She knew that this would happen, and yet she decided to come anyway. Inside, the lashing of whips, and the barking of dogs sounded, echoing into the trees around the clearing where their home once stood. She stuffed his socks into his tennis shoes, and tucked them under her arm.

“You wanna go?”

“If you do.”