At first Dalton wouldn’t kiss me back. He stopped playing and looked at me.
“Evangeline,” he said.
Sometimes I was Evangeline. Evi. Sometimes, Leeny or Evangeleeny. I was never only E. Eamon was E.
Dalton said my name. I said nothing.
I kissed him again.
He was a sublime kisser once he kissed me back. His kiss was a song. The piano started playing itself with the small of my back, the apple curve of my ass as Dalton repositioned us. Adagio, discordant. I was well-trained in classical ballet, taught it to tiny girls and boys who smelled like baby powder and oatmeal, but no — there was no grace here.
I was kissing Dalton Berkeley-Royce in the house I used to live in with my husband Eamon. I was kissing Dalton, my brother-in-law, my friend. Only. I’d known him as long as I’d known Eamon because Dalton and Eamon were a package deal and everyone knew it. Dalton’s mom died when he was in middle school. After that, he was raised by the Royces, with Eamon. I knew their history as if it were my own. Eamon was mine, Dalton was his. Dalton and I were always close. He was my brother from the moment I married Eamon and now Eamon was gone. Disappeared. Dead. I was a widow — a word so ghostly and hollow, a word that should’ve been a palindrome but wasn’t, those w’s with their arms stretched wide, begging for mercy.
I wanted to grow wings and fly into Dalton’s mouth, scratch and claw both of us, bleed inside him. Teardrop-spill all over him like honey. The snow was still falling. Falling still. The house, quiescent. Lilac mint whiskey kisses. Heartbeat-breaths. Thrumming piano strings, slowing. Slower. Nocturne.
Dalton pulled away. I didn’t. He put his hands on my shoulders, hot-pink heat flashed my cheeks. The fireplace clicked.
“Let’s talk about this first,” he said.
I shook my head no and kissed him again, saw the glitter sizzle and spark when I closed my eyes.
The phone rang.
My mom. Making sure we weren’t out driving in the snowstorm, making sure I was safe at home like I said I was. I was paranoid I’d mention something about the kissing. Accidentally say the word mouth out of place or mention Dalton’s tongue. Dalton’s lips. They weren’t Eamon’s. Eamon’s mouth was fuller. He had a bottom lip I could’ve chewed on for a week. I could still feel it between my teeth. Eamon was gone forever, but he was everywhere. How did that happen? I even heard his sea-god timbres in the blue of Noah’s cry.
I had my mom put Noah’s ear to the phone so I could tell him goodnight. When the call was over, I covered my face and cried.
“Heyheyheyhey,” Dalton said quietly, like he always did. As if he could stop me, catch me before the tears took off, pause it all before I rained.
But it didn’t work.
I rained and rained and rained because it’s what I do. I’ve gotten good at it. Rain Queen.
I tried to catch my breath, but couldn’t. Dalton went into the kitchen to get me a glass of water and I slid down the living room wall and rained more.
Dalton crouched to be closer to me, his long legs, his knees spread wide.
“Evi, drink this. Glass of water. I put lemon in it. Drink a little for me, please?” he said calmly. Also something else he always did. Especially when I wandered during the space between.