He was in love with a woman who tried to carve her life in a bar of soap. She started with her birth, spent eight days shaping the curve of her mother’s legs with the point of a pin.
He watched from the bed in their bachelor apartment, wanting to carve something too, the woman into his own heart, just so he’d have a hurt for the way her back arced over the bar, the way she held her cheeks between her teeth, smiling at the past she could never get back.
She stayed in some days. Designing, she’d say, staring at the soap shrinking in size growing in intricacy, while he handed her the phone to call in sick to work. He’d come home those days and hear her speaking to the shapes. She’d shush them at the sound of his footsteps on the stairs.
What are you saying? He’d asked one day before he knew better.
She showed him the soap in segments, here was her mother, here was the wolf.
It was real, it all happened, she assured him slipping the soap back into the box with the lock.
And what’s on the other side? He wanted to know, but that was after he knew better. Instead, he kissed her hair trying to bottle the scent of her somewhere in his memory.
He’d pulled away, seeing her toe poking through a hole in her sock, seeing her sadness like a train’s midnight whistle going through the town where he was once a child.
The day she left, he knew she was gone before he’d got to the top of the stairs.
She wasn’t the type to leave notes, but he searched anyway for some sign of her to prove she’d been present.
It wasn’t until later, after stirring around the papers on his desk, after staring out the window and down the street as though she’d still be there, after giving up and eating slices of bread over the sink, after seeing a few of her hairs coiled in the corner, it was only then, when he stood naked on the tile floor of the bathroom that the heat never seemed to reach, did he realized he’d been looking for the soap. It had almost been done the last time she’d showed him and he thought that maybe she’d left it. But that was what he’d been wanting all along.