Her entire life, she's thought in words. She'd heard her father compare it to artistry once; thought he was overwrought in his sentiment at the time. Now she wonders. Because she does use words in the same way that artists use paint or clay or metal. They shift and flow constantly in her mind, bumping off each other and trying to catch, combine, and become something.
She's never really thought about it before now. Never tried to lay the pieces of her mind out in a way to analyze them. Not with writing. Because she doesn't know where the words come from or how they work in her head. They always just have, but staring down at him, at Richard, splayed out in her bed, there's too much and not enough to say.
The words aren't right. There are too many.
So she says nothing. Just leans in and traces the lines of his face with her lips, waiting for the words to come. To fit.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who fell in love with a boy.
It ended badly.
When she finally makes it home from Metropolis - she never noticed when the tiny apartment in the middle of a maze of back streets and white-washed buildings became home - she falls into bed and sleeps for hours.
She wakes up in darkness, half-drunk on jet-lag and sleep. It takes her a few minutes, breathing deep the smell of lemon oil and dust, before she remembers where she is. But the cradle of her bed, familiar and right, jogs her memory, making her smile, nose brushing the worn sheet beneath her.
It's late or early with no moon to guide her, but her feet know the worn wooden floors well, and almost without thinking, she is perched in her living room window, shudders open to the cool night air.
Jerusalem feels different than any other place she's ever been. At turns old and new; a city with history and stories that would take years to tell.
Chloe breathes deeply; takes her home into her lungs and body and heart. Exhales, and feels stronger than she has in years.
Maybe this is what closure feels like.
She only calls his name once. Says it quietly and with intent as she watches five men drag Richard's broken body through their camp. Richard's shirt is wet with his own blood, and his face is nearly unrecognizable with bruises.
The binoculars she is holding are hard in her hands; gritty with accumulated dirt.
She waits, her chest tight and aching with hope and fear and something that might be anger. Five minutes she waits. Says his name again. Another five minutes pass before she knows. Knows.
Oddly, it doesn't hurt like she thought it would.
Later, riding out of the burning remains of the camp, her body sore and Richard thrown haphazardly over the camel in front of her, Chloe doesn't let herself look up. There's no point.
She's learned her lesson.
Richard's body is familiar next to her. He's not a tall man. His body is beautiful and heavy in all the ways that a man should be, but he's not big in the traditional ways.
Curled into him, their noses brushing, she runs a finger along his jaw. It's a good jaw. Just like his eyebrows are good eyebrows and the man smiling at her is a good man.
His fingers are warm on her neck and on her side, and when he leans in to kiss her (again and again and again) she closes her eyes.
She stopped wanting him to be someone else months ago. Now she closes her eyes because she wants to smell him and feel him. Lock these pieces of sense into her memory.
Eventually, she opens her eyes. She still doesn't have the words. But maybe, maybe that doesn't matter.
Maybe, she thinks, there shouldn't be words for this.
Maybe that's the point.