Their wedding quilt is white with red thread framing squares that form a pattern of interlocking circles. Some squares are vibrant, some pale, some sleek, some soft. They are pieces of their lives before marriage. Her grandmother’s dishtowel. His mother’s apron. Her father’s tie. His uncle’s bandana. Her Girl Scout uniform. His soccer jersey. She made it the month before their wedding, almost seven years ago.
The white is still fresh and bright, the colored squares unchanged. It’s something they fold at the foot of the bed or drape across the rocking chair at Christmastime. A showpiece, not for everyday use.
She runs her finger along the edge of one circle, feels the hills and valleys of each stitch. Her husband, beside her in the bed, heaves a deep sigh. He’s still asleep, but barely. He’s in that space between. She’s more receptive in that space. To dreams, to ideas, to long-forgotten song lyrics. Just the other day, as she was waking up from a nap, a tune drifted through her mind, and suddenly she was back in college, in a grungy coffee shop, ignoring the cover band she’d come to see, staring instead at the scruffy young guy in front of her. The first time she saw him, she’d wanted to put her arms around him. Hold onto him. Not let go.
Her husband sighs again. She scoots over and drapes her arm over his torso. She takes a deep breath, then slowly relaxes into the curve of his back. A smile stretches her lips as his warmth floods through her. She hesitates, then rests her chin against his shoulder. This. This is what she loves—the way their forms fit so neatly. The firmness of his buttocks against her thighs. The curve of his back against her breasts. The feel of his chest against the palm of her hand. The way his shoulder makes the perfect pillow. She is in heaven. She stretches her toes, touches them to the backs of his heels, snuggles closer and inhales the earthy scent of his neck. She gently trails a finger down his sternum, then—