After he first said: “I love you,” she responded in kind
and with bright sincerity. He believed her. He couldn’t
help noticing, though, how she seemed uncomfortable
in her body for hours afterward: how she would raise a
shoulder and simultaneously tilt her head toward it…
sometimes cup or rub her neck. “Are you ok?” he asked.
She smiled up and out of places he couldn’t see and said
she was fine, so happy, her voice cheery as birdsong.
It took time, but he realized that ‘I love you’ was never
what she longed to hear. Over more time, he learned why
(how often it had been said by those who had seemed,
just after, to forget her). Over more time, still, he found
the phrase that always unlocked the happiest of her sighs:'I'm thinking of you.'