I lay on my back on Zoe’s little blanket, on the wooden floor, right in the middle of the living room and allowed her to paint my toenails, and my toes, and my feet, with a melange of blue and pink marker. This was one of the few ways I could get her to interact with me, by encouraging her to draw on me. Now on tour I would think of my little girl every time I took my socks off. As she scribbled I put my hands behind my head and daydreamed happily about last night with Odette.
We finished that first bottle of red wine hastily and with about as much awkwardness as our first date so many years ago. When Marco suggested we indulge him by allowing the staff to open a bottle of champagne. I expected Odette to protest but she only shrugged and smiled said, “sure”. For the first time since Meliah died, I could actually feel Odette relaxing and letting go. I had a fleeting thought that this must be what she was like with HIM, but I drowned the concern in the bottom of my glass and kept the bottle on the table so I could keep her’s full.
Let’s just say the night didn’t end in the usual way with my passing out on the couch in the middle of the soccer highlights and Odette crawling into bed with Zoe. When I woke up with Odette in my arms, I knew everything was going to be o.k..
“Pink toes!” Zoe called out, waking me from my reverie. I suddenly remembered that this was our time to say goodbye. I was struck with a pang of guilt as I thought about spending a month away from my baby girl. I stroked her soft blonde curls and told her all about Chicago and San Francisco. She tried to get up and run off but I held her there and I promised to write to her every single day. I wondered if she knew what I was talking about at all, but as I spoke I realized that in writing to Zoe, I could in fact, keep in touch with Odette.
I tried to look into her lovely brown eyes, searching for something, She didn’t look back. I took her head in both of my hands and looked right into them but she looked through me. So instead, I hugged her tightly, with her arms by her side, and I felt suddenly tired.
I looked up when I felt Odette watching us and then heard Dave’s van pull up in the driveway, ready to take me to the airport. The other guys were already on their way in Alex’s truck with our instruments. The sound equipment was waiting for us in San Francisco, along with, apparently, super sweet tour bus. It suddenly hit me that I was leaving now. And while it wouldn’t be forever it definitely felt as though the whole world could change in a month. All that was left was to kiss Odette goodbye – a kiss to last the whole month, though of course there was always the chance that Jake would be tasting Odette’s lip gloss before our bus was even out of Athens.
Zoe opened her arms, looked at the wall and said, “You want some juice?” This was how she asked me to get her juice, some kind of reverse pronoun business that apparently is a normal autism thing. I asked Dave to take her into the kitchen and get it for her. I needed a moment alone with my wife. I knew we probably should talk about the separation but I certainly wasn’t going to bring it up. Instead, I grabbed her tightly and tilted her face up to mine and kissed her. She tasted, as always, like strawberries and also like the eggs I had made her eat for breakfast. It was a strangely erotic combination and so I deepened the kiss, prodding open her mouth with my tongue until finally she relented and gave into the moment completely.