When my honeymoon ends, it feels like a bubble has just burst. There is this thing about my wife’s eyes. They glitter when they catch the sun’s reflection on the lake as she sits out there at the balcony listening to country music on her laptop. I miss that.
Last night I couldn’t sleep. So I went out to that balcony at 01:33h. It was cold and windy but I couldn’t bring myself to putting anything else on me besides my boxers and vest. There were these tiny cricket sounds from all over the place. It felt like no other sounds could survive that night.
But then another sound came up. A loud and deep hiss. I looked out into the lake shore but I couldn’t see much. The dim security lights at these lodges are meant to make the night beautiful. Not to illuminate the darkness with artificial lighting. That’s bad for a night like last night.
Then I make out this silhouette in the darkness that makes me squint and lean from the balcony from my waist up. And the sound comes up again.
The glass door behind me slides open and Jen’s voice comes through it. “What is it babe? Aren’t you cold?”
My eyes peel the night back layer by layer until I make out a hippo walking lazily on the grass below. It breathes again and I imagine the air around its huge nose turning grey.
“You have to see this.” I beckon at my wife without looking at her and she slides into my arms and leans her head on my shoulder. Her arm circles my body and touches my skin.
“You are cold. Your skin feels like a plucked chicken.”
“I love a good plucked chicken on Christmas morning.” I say as I make out more of the hippo down below, now made more visible by the dim orange security lights it is grazing close to. “But I love the sight of a hippo grazing alone on a cold night more.”
It feels like the wind is whistling in both our ears as she leans on my side, rests her head on my shoulder and pulls me close with the arm that is circling my body. “You are cold.” She more of moans it than says it. She has covered herself up in a duvet.
She is a lady that appreciates beauty without having to talk about it. She rubs my arm warm and shares the duvet with me. And we stand out there lost in time. Staring at an animal eat and breathe loudly.
“Tomorrow we leave?” She asks after a while. Her voice feels like it is trailing. Lost in the night wind. Trying to find its way back to a place where it feels like it doesn’t really belong.
“Tomorrow we leave.”
“I’m going to miss this. Us. Standing out at the balcony. Staring at nature. Are you afraid of getting back to the real world?”
“I’m always afraid Jen. But knowing that we’re together makes it a lot easier.”
She chuckles and rubs my arms under the duvet. We can’t see the lake now because it is a dark night, but I can imagine it. Sitting there long and wide. Waiting for the day to break so it can reflect the sunrise on its large, smooth, soft body. And bathe in the morning warmth.
“Do you think he’ll fire you? For going MIA?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
She knows the answer to her next question but she asks it anyway. After a moment of contemplation and desperate hope that my answer will be different this time. “What will you do if he fires you?”
“I will figure that out when I get there.”
“One day you will get there and find that you can’t figure it out.”
“I will figure that out too when I get there.” I smile. She smiles.
An owl hoots in the distance, the crickets chirr, the hippo breathes and the newlyweds stand out at the balcony of the hotel room that will be paid for by the bride’s father and listen to the music.
“Tomorrow we leave?” She asks again. Her voice lost in the moment of it all. She too can feel it. Hear it. The sound of the bursting bubble.
“Tomorrow we leave.”
She imagines I can’t see her face because the balcony is dimly lit and we’re looking out in the same direction. But I can feel them. Those tears rolling down her cheeks.