We spend each long day bumping into each other in the kitchen pressing dough into mounds to rise. We place each ball into a bowl or tin and cover with fabric in a cool dark place where no draft can affect it. We — her, a baker at her core, knowing the difference between bread and cake flour and how to make buttermilk with vinegar — me, knowing how to watch close enough to copy and learn, a quick study of her slow hands — spend the early mornings like this, covered in flour, silent but for the pats of the dough as it’s turned in our hands.
Neither of us has ever married, nor spent any amount of time wishing to be. We have a neighbor, Mr. Stroughton, who comes by every morning when the buns and loaves and bars are still warm and loads them all in a cart to distribute to the restaurants and coffee shops and other stores in our neighborhood. And by nine or ten in the morning we are done for the day, free to fix broken door hinges in our apartment above the town grocery store in Anniston, Alabama, or lay with legs entwined in a windowsill sunbathing as we take turns reading to each other.
We stay awake as long as we please, sometimes until light begins to fade, and then do it all over again. Every day we both live. Every day we touch shoulders pressing out dough, cleaning the arms on the mixers. Every night we sleep, never further than a shadow’s distance from one another. We are happy and no one knows. We link arms on the street and people love us and we love each other. We see the pastors sink their teeth into communion bread we made for mass. We see the children wait outside our door for cookies. We see their mothers, laughing with us telling us they wish they could live alone, not be married, feel young. We laugh and account for all our limbs as we know they will try to gravitate to each other. We hold each other when the doors shut. We walk to the store and back again. Everyone loves us and we do not die and we never sleep alone. We have been this way for years and sometimes forget even amongst ourselves that we exist.
Her blonde hair tickles my legs as she hangs her head sideways on the couch, one arm on one of my legs. We are together. The auburn in her eyes blinking off as we doze and our plain comfortable clothes sink further into our bodies and into the couch and we get to be we for another night, another night she — porcelain and auburn eyed and gentle — holds me — rough, red-faced, blue eyed — and we sink further into We.