“no. not that one. the other one.”
“this one over here?”
“no. the one next to it. the one with red on it.”
“oh. this one?”
“isn’t she cute? look at her.”
“i guess. i mean, she’s yours.”
“what do you mean “you guess”? do you not like her?”
“she… she just looks like all of the other ones.”
“no. see that bit of red? she’s different. cuter.”
“when do you get to take her home?”
“couple of days.”
“are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“yeah. i still need to get a few things. a bed. carrier. toys. that sort of stuff. you really don’t like her?”
“i do. i do. i promise. it’s just hard get a good look from over here.”
“i’ll bring you back tomorrow and you get to know her more then. but we should go now. hospital visiting hours are over soon.”
she pauses in the doorway, one foot tentatively outside, her palm resting on the weathered white frame. she looks at the ground beneath her two feet–one hovers above fallen leaves, the other on a scarred wooden floor.
she turns her head slightly, biting her lower lip, and looks over her shoulder. caught between two worlds, the late autumn sun lights her hair, the darkening room shadows her face.
a slight intake of breath, her fingers tighten on the frame.
she looks up. “i’ve always been in love with you. ever since…”
her hand releases, her feet move forward. leaves crunch. the door moves slightly in the breeze.
you reach up and touch the frame where her palm last rested. a faint trace of warmth lingers, you imagine it moving up your hand into your arm. tracing veins, chasing blood back to your heart.
you press your fingertips to your lips, closing your eyes. breathing. she can’t be far. you can stop her.
“honey? dinner’s ready. and shut that door before the cats get out.”