She is on the island, in a cottage that is rented, with her husband; he is cute, brooding, closed in on himself. She’s withdrawn, too. They’ve taken a few weeks to put what’s left of their relationship back together; a plant they didn’t tend enough, didn’t know how to tend, you learn with time, it takes time to understand. It’s very hot, a humid heat, like breathing water.
Here comes this guy, he’s cute too, he’s cuter than her husband, frayed face, lost eyes, scared. Very handsome, very thin, bleeding, injured, bleeding from head and nose. He says he needs help, he is confused, he asks for water, and he drinks, and he drinks, he drinks many glasses full of water, he asks for more all the time. They call the owner, but he doesn’t answer, meanwhile it’s night, they dress his wounds, offer him food, he eats quickly and noisily, they let him rest.
At dawn she gets up to drink, he drinks water and lemon, she can’t drink water without anything. He is awake, on the couch, the french windows are wide open, there is still the cool of the night; he stares at the ceiling, he is lost, and then he looks at her. He sits up and is still bleeding from the nose. She hands him a cloth, he dabs the blood on his shirt and on the couch, she hands him the bottle of cold water, he holds it up to his nose, the blood drips on the floor in a small puddle.
She would like to ask him what happened to him, but she is paralyzed by the dawn, by the situation, by an unspeakable attraction she has for this stranger she seems to recognize; she has written about him a thousand times, she writes, writing is like having a fever, if you don’t have a fever you can’t write.
Dawn is stentorian, still, her breath ragged. She walks over to the couch, sits on one armrest, looks at him curiously, he asks her what her name is. He is rude and brash like a three-year-old, but his gaze is surrendered to her; he has a docility ready to explode, his hands large, bloodstained.
From the garden comes the smell of grass, of mint, of brambles, of sheep, of the sea. He wets the cloth with cold water and passes it over his hands, face, shoulders, sits on the ground and hands it to her. She takes his hand, walks over, takes his other hand, and kneels in front of him. She runs her hand over his face, brings her face closer to his, smells the blood, smells the iron. the atavistic need to merge with this man. They embrace, they hold each other, she bends her head to one side, offering her throat to him, they adhere to each other.
The next morning she washes the fabrics she has dyed with tea and artichokes. Her heart sinks thinking of her eyes, of him. She goes to her husband, kisses him, asks him to leave. She will stay on the island, find a place, dye the fabrics, wait for the bleeding boy, who will return to her and stay with her, from morning to night every single hour of every single day of every life, as he has always been.