Every evening, as if you timed it precisely, the bathwater would begin to run and rumble quietly throughout the apartment. It became a sort of comforting buzz, a trill to call the sun to rest. Even with the door closed, the orange haze seemed to leak out from beneath to greet the rest of the apartment. Foot by foot I would hear your skin break surface against the water. I imagined it curving to your waist. Greedily cupping around your thighs. I would sneak myself in through the door, careful not to disrupt the tangerine glow heating through the sheet draped over the lone window. I’d sit at the tub’s side, resting my chin at the fold of my arm, and I’d watch. Suddenly you would take in a breath, and even the simple motion of your lungs disrupted the still lake, rippling off as it carried your voice through. “Tell me about them.” Clockwork. You asked of every body that accompanied my day’s walk. You asked of the people I’d passed, oh the people; where I thought they might be going, how many of them, if not all, had looked troubled. You wanted to know if they had touched home. Your lips would tuck in a wave of sadness if I spoke of anyone that had been alone. At any of those points, you would calmly interrupt, “I can’t imagine why.”, and your eyebrows would give a disgruntled furrow. At any time in which I mentioned your day, you would without pause proceed with a “Their lips?” You had always seemed to think the mere purse of lonesome lips could tell of more exhaustion than any other form of communication. To you, it was a fascinating, but agonizing and speechless tale. Nothing was more tragic to you than untouched lips (every night, your finger tip would trace my own). You consumed the hallows of everyone you’d ever met. You thought that, even with a brief and single returned gaze, you could carry their sorrows. You could cradle their darkest of nights and bring them to rest in the water, in the orange room. No one was ever to know of your own hours’ troubles. No one was to ever know of the woes that soaked alongside your frame.
Every night you looked forward to my sights. To meeting yet another person through mouth. Through lips alone. You reveled the tales of the city’s travelers, of their stories, their wordless beings. And I savored just as much the lingering, warm smell of bathwater on your skin.