Gale walks to the living room, running her palms along her short green dress to smooth out any remaining creases. She pauses in the doorway, moving her hand towards her face before remembering her make-up and withdrawing, this night’s like any other and yet she’s nervous. She looks at Tara and her shoulders relax. Tara’s curled up on their old teal armchair, wearing pyjamas and eating from a tub of ice cream, her hairs a mess and she looks perfect. Gale smiles and enters the room.
“Wow, you look gorgeous, are you going somewhere? Are we going somewhere?” Tara asks pointing her spoon at herself.
“No, actually I thought we’d stay in,” she says, swaying her hips as she moves towards Tara.
Gale straddles her partner, knees sinking into the too soft cushion, and leans in for a kiss. Tara smiles, humming in pleasure as she responds but only moments later she’s pulling away.
“What?” Gale asks.
“It’s just been a long day and I’m kind of exhausted,” Tara replies.
“And you want to just sit here eating ask cream,” Gale says with amused resignation. She can’t help but be a little disappointed, this one last chance at carefree intimacy seems important somehow, but she lets it go quickly, she’s tired too and in this moment curling up together with some ice cream feels like the best idea in the world.
“Yeah, join me?”
“Okay,” Gale replies, sliding her leg over until she’s sitting sideways in Tara’s lap.
“Here,” Tara says, holding out a spoonful to her.
“Thanks,” she says, enclosing her lips around the spoon, savouring the cool raspberry flavour.
Gale reaches a hand out to her lovers face, she wants this time to never end. Stroking Tara’s cheek she’s momentarily distracted by her own nail polish, a shade of red she picked for its name; ‘Fire and Ice’; it’s bright against olive skin. She struggles to exist in the present, so desperate to infuse it with meaning, she asks,
“If you could go anywhere in the world, do anything you wanted, what would it be?”
“Italy,” Tara answers without hesitation.
“Of course,” Gale chuckles, it’s exactly what she’s expecting, and adds, “we should go.”
“Yeah, we should, and do all the cliché touristy things, even if we don’t have time for them all we have to visit the Colosseum and the leaning tower of Pisa, oh and the food, we could eat real gelato…” Tara lifts a spoonful of ice cream to her lips, pretending, she closes her eyes and instead of putting the spoon in her mouth licks slowly along the surface.
“Next week,” Gale states.
“What about it?”
“We should go next week.”
“We can’t just drop everything and go on holiday, what’s going on?”
Gale chastises herself for being so obvious, “You’re right, just a crazy idea, maybe this summer?”
“Yeah, that would be awesome.”
In her periphery Gale sees the discarded envelope on which she scrawled ‘Dr Morris’ and a phone number, thinks she should’ve hidden it, thinks Tara will see it and will know.
“Where else do you want to go? Somewhere different, somewhere no one thinks of,” Gale asks.
“You know me; I’m kind of straight forward when it comes to travel stuff.”
“Something else then, what do you want to do?” Gale urges.
“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”
“I want to know what you want to do, just tell me,” Gale demands.
Tara laughs, “What’s with the interrogation?”
“Sorry, I just want to know everything about you; I need to know it all.” Need to pack decades of time into whatever we have.
She imagines Tara’s words too weary and concerned, and movements too careful and delicate, wants to keep the state they have for a few more precious minutes, tries to keep her tone light, “Nothing’s wrong. I’m just asking…”
“Gale, tell me.”
She shifts, disentangling from their coiled position until she’s sitting on the chair’s arm, then she quietly confesses, “I’m dying.”