You’re Not Listening

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A note that I found beneath a refrigerator magnet said, I’m sorry I get so angry at you all the time. It’s not your fault. I don’t know what I want.

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I told her that she could move in if she wanted to.

“I wouldn’t do that,” she told me. “I own a house. You have an apartment. If anything, you should move in with me.”

“Do you want me to?” I asked her.

“Maybe someday,” she said. “The sky looks clear. Want to go on a bike ride?”

“If you want to,” I said, “we can bike.”

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When she stayed overnight, she put her hearing aids on the nightstand. I’d hold her till she fell asleep, and when the bedroom was silent and moonlight streamed through the curtains, I asked her: “Why does everything have to be so hard with you?”

Or I told her: “I’m really trying, Madison.” Or: “I hate it when you act that way. Hate it.”

We were never good at telling one another the things that mattered. We talked about refugee crises and social welfare programs and the ethics of eating dairy products, but the things we should have said went unspoken, and I had to wait until she fell asleep in my bed, her pair of hearing aids on the nightstand, before I leaned to her and whispered: “I love you.”