“Did you miss me?” he said.
“No, Jordi,” she said. “I didn’t.”
“Of course not,” he said, and nodded.
“Are you angry?”
“Are you sure you’re not angry?”
He looked out the window. When she left, he had still been able to see across the square to the Church of Zion. Now the trees were in leaf and all he saw from the window was those wonderful large green leaves. The leaves swayed back and forth in the wind, reminding Jordi of seaweed drifting in the ocean.
Perhaps it was because they hadn’t seen each other for so long. They hadn’t seen each other for almost as long as they’d known each other! He laid his arm on the back of the sofa behind her and left it there for a few minutes, but then he took it away again. The arm didn’t feel quite sure of itself.
“What about you?” she asked.
“What have you been doing?”
“Why didn’t you call?” he said. “Not once in three months!”
“But you knew,” she said, taking alarm. “That was our agreement, wasn’t it?”
She was right. She’d even said, “Suppose I stay there for good?” And he had said that would be O.K., she was a free agent, and if they never said another word to each other again that would be O.K., too. But he had said so only out of calculation, because he knew that she was an Aries—and just try keeping a ram captive.
“There’s a story about that elephant,” she said. She paused, waiting for him to ask what the story was, but all he could think about was how to get the elephant out of the garbage without her noticing.
“It was the fourth,” she said. “Honestly, it was the fourth, I swear it.”
He didn’t say anything. Then he went into the kitchen, and before bending over the trash he turned around, to be on the safe side.
“I lost the first three!” she called from the living room. “Can you imagine it—all three of them? Do you think that means something?”
He was frantically searching through the garbage, but he couldn’t find the elephant. He dug his bare hands deeper and deeper into the damp, smelly trash, and then he took everything out and laid it on the floor.
“I know this one’s ugly!” she called again. “I bought it at the airport in Bombay. You should have seen the others. They were really pretty!”
He couldn’t find it. He knelt, sweating, with the trash of the past three days spread out on the floor around him, and suddenly he realized how crazy he was. He thought, If she sees this, she’ll think I’m totally crazy, and he began picking up the trash and stuffing it back in the garbage can.
“Actually, that’s not true. I didn’t want to bring anything back for you.” There she was behind him. “I simply forgot about you.”
He turned his head and looked up at her from below. She ran her hand through his hair and said, “And then I remembered you again in Bombay, at the airport. . . . What’s the matter? Have you thrown it away already?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Then we’re quits,” she said. She knelt down beside him and helped to pick up the trash. It was soon done, and then they washed their hands together in the bathroom, looked at each other in the mirror, and smiled.
“Would you go out, please?” she said.
She had never felt shy about sitting on the toilet in front of him before. Although he didn’t really like it, he would have given anything for her not to send him out now.