There are days of rain, and the edge of summer’s heat has finally blunted when I want to ask him if he thinks of me as something permanent but don’t. The weeds are overtaking the patio, and in the dark there are always toads. One night he texts me to tell me he and his daughter are digging around out there with flashlights trying to find them after I’ve gone to bed. A year in, and it’s the closet I’ve come to meeting her, think this some kind of sign I should listen to, remember the night we met when he told me of walking with her through a roadway carpeted with their newborn bodies, all those impossibly small things.

When I tell him I’m planning a getaway for my birthday in a few months, ask him if he’ll still like me enough then to want to come, he laughs as if it is some kind of joke I am telling, and not all the fragile edges of my heart showing, the way that, after deaths and other disappointments, I am only used to people leaving, don’t know what to do with a man that might want to stay.

I want to tell him then that I like the way he sometimes holds me as if I’m meant to be his, his breath in my hair, hands wrapped around mine, like the even rise and fall of his chest at my back, want to tell him the way he’s crept inside, altering all that space, but don’t. Because the last time I give a man the whole of my heart, he leaves soon after and is never mine again, and I want this one to stay.

I want to tell him then that I want to be someone’s permanent, someone’s day and someone’s dark, someone’s hold me until morning comes, someone’s always.

But instead I just laugh with him, ask him again about September and don’t.

I just don’t.

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