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Ruthie's Hair
By Selena Jardine
There are moments of loss that are common to half the world,
losses millions can understand. Everyone knows what it's like to
lose a tooth, to search with the tongue for a part of the self
that is no longer there. There is that moment when the penis
finally slides out of the vagina, still warm and wet but
softening now: a momentary, incalculable sense of searching and
loss. The first time I lost Ruth Adamson, it was a common loss,
like these, a dull ache that mirrored thousands of others.

This time, when I left her apartment at midnight, her scent on my
skin, her taste in my mouth, the hole, the search were different.
This time, it was the singular loss that can never be repaired or
replaced, never be consoled.

And now I lie on my bed in the dark, and wait. I dare not hope
for a happy ending. Happy endings are sentimental, and Ruth was
always too sharp to allow that. She has cut all that away. So
instead of thinking about the ending, I think about the
beginning, and I wait.


Calls like the one I got from Ruthie usually come in the middle
of the night. At least, that's what I understand from the
movies. This one, my call, came at three-fifteen on the medium-
cloudy afternoon of February fifth. I picked up the phone and
said, "Hello?" glancing at the caller ID screen. Doing a double-
take. Becoming very still. Looking at the telephone as if it
would tell me more than the name did, on the screen. Ruth
Adamson. Ruth Adamson? Really?

"Hello?" I repeated, more carefully. There was a breath on the
other end of the phone, and then someone cleared her throat. I
almost hung up. It would have been logical; if I hadn't had
caller ID, I would already have given up on someone who hadn't
spoken for so long.

Then a voice. "Naomi?" Yes. Ruth. No one calls me Naomi any
more. My name is Emma, and most people call me Em, except my
niece Dorothy, because I refuse to play any role in her over-the-
rainbow fantasies. But for a few years in high school, I was
such close friends with a girl named Ruth that she called me
Naomi, in imitation of the Biblical pair of women who vowed never
to leave or forsake their friendship. Whither thou goest, I will
go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge... We had thought we
were inseparable.

"Naomi?" Ruthie's voice sounded unsure.

"Ruthie. Yes. It's Em." I knew what to say next: Hi! God,
it's great to hear your voice! What have you been doing with
yourself? God, we have to get together, girl, where have you
*been*? It stuck in my throat somehow. Ruthie's voice--my name,
my old name, repeated twice--did not seem to invite class-reunion
exchanges. What now? I thought, a little desperately.

"Naomi, can you come over?"

"What?" I sat down on the couch without looking behind me. I
hadn't seen Ruth Adamson in eight--no, ten years, and she wanted-
-what? A sleepover?

"Please. Please, Naomi. I need." She broke off, covered the
phone with her hand and coughed, and then came back. "I need a

I laughed, a little shrilly. "What?" But I remembered. I had
always cut her hair in those days. I never let her touch mine,
fragile blonde stuff that it was; it needed a professional touch
if it was ever going to look decent, sculpted with infinite care
into the curls and puffs I craved. But Ruthie's mother was half
Cherokee, and Ruthie's hair fell with lightless, waveless purity
from her scalp to her narrow hips, so black it was blue, so blue
it was impossible of description. Night-girl hair, she called
it, and braided it carelessly, or twisted it out of her way in a
heavy knot at the nape of her neck, or let it hang and swing in a
thick curtain that begged to be lifted, weighed, examined,
touched. She could hide in it, if she wanted to, but she almost
never did. Not Ruthie.

"It doesn't make sense for me to pay twenty bucks for some
stranger to cut a straight line in hair like mine," she'd said
the first time, when I'd protested that I didn't know how to cut
hair. "Just cut it, for chrissake." So I did, using a ruler
with infinite anxious care. "Thanks," she'd said afterwards, not
even looking at it in the mirror I offered her, just grinning at
me, while I looked in awe at my handiwork, the perfect black
rectangle falling down Ruthie's shoulders.

"Naomi?" And through the veil of ten years I thought I heard
need there, something blind and choked.

"Yes, okay, Ruth," I said. "I'll come."

I put down the phone after I got her address, hesitated a moment,
then picked it back up and called Stephen. He and I had been
dating for a year now, friends for six months before that, and I
thought we were probably heading into the wary arena where we
might eye each other for another six months before getting
engaged. I was supposed to meet him for a movie tonight, but the
sound of Ruthie's voice...

"Okay," said Stephen, sounding cheerful and interested. "Jesus,
really? Ruth, your high school friend? Just called you totally
out of the blue? Did you even know she lived in town?"

"No, I didn't. Maybe she just moved back or something. Listen,
are you sure you don't mind?"

"No, that's fine, you go ahead and see her. I'll, um, watch
Texas Ranger or something you hate, okay?"

"Yuck," I said, grinning despite myself. "I'll make it up to you
later, all right?"

"Oh, boy," Stephen said happily, "will I ever call you later,"
and I hung up smiling.

The smile had faded long before I got to Ruthie's apartment on
the other side of town. I didn't know why I had agreed to go
over and see her, and I was uneasy. Ten years since we'd last
seen each other was too long, I thought, too long to do something
like this on impulse, too long even to know why she asked it. I
couldn't assume I knew her voice any more, couldn't assume that
what I heard as need really was anything of the kind.

We'd thought we were Ruth and Naomi, inseparable. But are
teenage girls ever really inseparable? I don't know one person
who's still best friends with the person she loved best in high
school; one or two still keep in touch by letter or phone, but
most have moved on, lost those selves gladly or reluctantly to
the passage of time.

Ruth and I were closer than most, maybe. We'd met in tenth grade
when we were assigned to the same group in English class. Ruth
Adamson was skinny, ferocious, sarcastic with her lampblack hair
swinging in her face; I was blonde and shy, ill at ease with my
body always developing one step ahead of my expectations, the
seriocomic Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner effect of breasts and
hips and menstruation. So I was shocked as only the ritualistic
young can be shocked when Ruth came up to me after class one day
and said, "I really liked what you said about that poem."

"The what?" I said, and immediately winced, wishing I had said
something brilliant. Something *poetic*.

"That poem we read, the Billy Collins one. I liked the way you
talked about foolish beauty. Most of the beautiful people around
here are complete fools." She grinned and looked around us. I
found myself grinning back. "Listen," she was saying. "You want
to have lunch with me?" As if we were going to a little bistro
somewhere instead of the cafeteria.

"Sure," I said, "but talk about foolish."

"I prefer to call it boundless pluck," answered Ruth. "Carpe

We were immediately inseparable, part of a loose group of friends
that developed that year, girls who were fierce and smart and
loyal and funny as hell. Ruthie and I spent time with those
girls, Meg and Kirsten and Heather and Tamara. We did different
things with our time: she wrote for the newspaper, I was in the
band. We both had boyfriends, on and off, and they were mostly
good guys when we had them; I dated Carl Simmons for most of
eleventh grade, and he was sweet and pretty smart and he had a
great ass.

But Ruthie and I were the core, for each other. We did most of
the usual things--notes stuffed into lockers, cruising in my car
(Ruthie didn't drive), those anxious quarterly haircuts. But
mostly we talked. God, how we talked. It seems impossible now;
can any two human beings really have that much to talk about?
Poetry (on which we agreed), religion, philosophy, politics (on
which we often disagreed), guys, teachers, books. On the
weekends they couldn't drag us apart. We became a familiar
school sight, like the baseball team practicing: Ruth scowling
at the ground, Emma expostulating; Emma laughing like a maniac,
Ruth mimicking the biology teacher; Ruth and Emma, Emma and Ruth,
relying on each other, deeper and deeper.

It was near the end of tenth grade that she read the Book of
Ruth, almost as a joke. It was even the King James version.
Ruthie never did anything by halves. When someone asked her,
sneering, why she was reading the Bible, she just showed the
chapter title and shrugged. "It's my book, I better read it,"
she said. Later, after school, she called me.

"Em, you're not going to believe this!" Her voice was excited,
urgent, spilling over. "This is the most beautiful thing I've
ever heard, I never, it's just like, listen!"

"Ruth!" I was laughing. "Calm down, Ruthie, I'm listening, geez
Louise, this is the Bible we're talking about here, you'd think
it was--"

But she was interrupting, her voice running over mine, intent and
focused. "Shut up, shut up and listen, quit trying to be funny.
This is serious. There's these two women, right? Naomi and her
daughter-in-law, Ruth. And mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law
don't normally get along too well, do they? But these two,
listen to what they said, what they promised each other, even
after Ruth's husband died and she could have gone back to her own

And then, over the phone, into the silence that had fallen, she
said those ancient, perfect words. "Whither thou goest, I will
go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people will be my
people, and thy God, my God: where thou diest, will I die, and
there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if
aught but death part thee and me."

When she had finished, my eyes were full of tears. "Ruth--"

"And Naomi. That's you, from now on. Naomi." And so it was.
For all of high school, with all its work and stupor and
melodrama unfolding in the halls and locker rooms, I was Naomi to
her Ruth. We went everywhere together, practically lived in each
other's rooms, studied together and wept together and loved each
other's families. Whenever we slept overnight together, we shared
a bed. I was taller and heavier than Ruth, and I held her
cradled in my arms, lying awake long after she had fallen asleep,
listening to her breathing, light and rapid as a child's. Once I
woke to find her breast in my hand, her lithe body pressed
against mine. After one startled moment, we laughed so hard we
thought we'd die. We thought we were inseparable, all right. We
had promised it.

Someone's horn blared on my left, startling me out of this deep
memory. I grimaced. I hadn't been paying attention; it was
lucky I hadn't driven miles past where I wanted to go in the end-
of-day traffic. I glanced at the address Ruthie had given me,
and pulled into the parking lot of a fairly new apartment
building on Weston Avenue. Ruthie must be doing okay if she
could afford to live here; no way I could. But then, Princeton
grads usually did do okay.

Ruthie had gone to Princeton. Her grades were better than mine,
though not by a lot. What was really different for her was the
ambition, that sharp hunger that had somehow been left out of me.
I went to the University of Virginia, not a shabby choice by any
means. "Alma mater of a nation," I said, cheerfully.

"You have to write me, Naomi," Ruth said.

"Duh," I said. "Of course. And call." I took it for granted
that this would be the case. And at first, we both did write and
call, nearly as often as we had at home. Then we did less,
because we were so busy, and our schedules were different. Then,
gradually, like fading, like bleaching, we did less, because we
didn't know each other as well, and we couldn't bear the
silences, and we couldn't bear to say so. And then, finally, we
didn't write at all.

This isn't so uncommon with high-school friends. Hometown
honeys, as we called the boyfriends and girlfriends who arrived
in little silver frames with the incoming freshmen, seldom lasted
past Thanksgiving break. Hometown best friends lasted a little
longer, usually until the deadly distinction, "She's my best
friend *from high school*," appeared, identifying the poor
hapless girl as a phase, something to be grown out of. I never
said that sentence, but I kept myself so busy among UVA's maple
trees and green lawns and sorority girls and fraternity guys that
I scarcely allowed myself to realize how much I missed Ruth
Adamson. Like a tooth, perhaps. Maybe even like several teeth.
But they were back teeth, molars, nothing visible to others. A
dull ache, a common loss.

And now, ten years later, I was at her apartment, to give her a
haircut. However silly this was, however irrationally frightened
I might feel, I was going to go through with it. I was an adult
woman, completely capable of handling myself in this kind of
situation. I raised my gloved hand and knocked at the door. A
moment later, it opened. I found myself looking down at the girl I had loved enough to promise to die wherever she died, and I had
to put my hand over my mouth to stop myself from making the
terrible noise I felt rising in my chest.

Ruthie's left eye was swollen shut, purple-blue. The eyebrow
above it was neatly stitched, seven or eight stitches. Her right
cheekbone was stitched, too, the skin around the wound angry and
red and scabbed. Her lower lip was swollen on the left side, as
if it had been mashed against her teeth. Against the pale skin
of her throat, purple bruises showed in the shape of someone's
fingers. Only her hair was the same, falling in that identical
pure night around that ruin of a face.

And she was smiling.

"Jesus Christ, Naomi, you look grim," she said. "Fuck you and the
hearse you rode in on."

I could feel my face breaking up into a grin I never intended.
"Ruth, goddammit," I said, and my voice was horribly shaky, and
then I stepped across her threshold and we were in each other's
arms. She smelled of lemon and bourbon and I held her very
close, my eyes shut.

"Ooh, hey, careful," she said, after one moment, and I stepped
away from her hastily. "Ribs a little sprung," she explained.
"Hurts like a mad bastard when I laugh. Don't make me laugh,
okay, Naomi?"

"Ruth--" I felt disoriented, swept into the past. "What the hell
happened to you?"

She looked at me. Night was falling outside her apartment;
lights were coming on all over the city. "I think I need a drink
to tell you about that," she said, and went into the kitchen.
While she was fixing drinks, I looked around me. young professional apartment, beige carpet, white furniture, some
lithographs on the walls that were probably not reproductions.
It looked like she was usually a neat freak; the place was
incredibly clean, but there was a certain amount of surface
clutter--glasses, mostly--that spoke of someone who hadn't been
able to bother in the past couple of days. There was a notepad
on the table next to me next to the phone. It said, in letters
so deep the pen had nearly gone through the paper, "Greg you
fucking bastard motherfucker fuck him fuck him fuck you" and
then, some way under that, it had my telephone number, no name.

I looked up as Ruthie came back into the room. She still looked
awful, and wonderful, and herself, and not. One of her wrists
was bandaged, though since she was carrying a drink in that hand,
it couldn't be broken or even really badly sprained. I took it
from her and took a sip, felt the warmth spread. Bourbon.
Really good bourbon, not much water. I watched Ruthie down about
a third of hers, and then I said, knowing it was going to be bad,
"Okay, Ruthie. Now. What happened?" She didn't answer. She
just sat next to me, her hair falling around her face, down her
shoulders to her narrow waist. I reached out, unable to resist,
and brushed it back. "Ruthie. Tell me why you need a haircut."

She looked up at me, her eyes dry and angry, her mouth oddly
twisted. "Three days ago, I was walking home from the bookstore
at nine-thirty at night. Two guys, big fucking guys, jumped out
at me from behind a parked car and grabbed me and beat the shit
out of me and took my purse and ran."

"Oh, Ruth, oh no." I wanted to ask a dozen questions; I wanted
to be so close to her that I knew all the answers already. "Did
they--I mean, they didn't try to--"

"No, they weren't interested in raping me. They just wanted to
hurt me, and get my money, and mission fucking accomplished as
far as that was concerned." Ruthie drained her glass. "But I
didn't answer your question. I run marathons, Naomi. I should
have been able to outstrip those big stupid motherfuckers. But
he--they grabbed me by the hair." Even ten years after I had
last seen her, I could tell that Ruth, Ruth the fierce, the
brave, the mordant, Ruth Adamson was struggling not to cry.
"They grabbed my hair, and they stole from me, and they beat me.
And now I need a haircut. It's all coming off, Naomi. I never
want to see it again."


I didn't argue. No one ever could, with Ruth. A few minutes
later, we were sitting in her bathroom, she on a stool, I holding
a pair of silver scissors.

"How much do you want off?" I asked, noncommittally.

She turned around to look at me, and her eyes were cold. "I told
you. All of it. This is not a fucking trim, Naomi."

"Okay, all right." I took a deep breath, let it out. "Take off
your shirt, then. I don't want to get hair all over you. This
is going to be messy."

She did as she was told, unbuttoning the oversized shirt she was
wearing with her right hand alone and slipping out of it. She
wasn't wearing a bra underneath. I don't know why that surprised
me; it would probably be awkward to fasten if your wrist was
sore. Standing there before me in her jeans and nothing else,
she was impossibly lovely to some inner eye I had not known would
open. Her collarbones stood out over those perfect small
breasts, her thick night-girl hair falling over one brown nipple.
The raven's wings of bruises along her ribs were like tattoos,
totems, emblems. I wanted to touch them. Instead, I closed my
eyes for a moment, then put her back on the stool and opened the

Snip, snip, is the traditional noise of a barbershop. In
reality, hair crunches when you cut it, as if it were bone or
leaf or muscle. I cut Ruth Adamson's hair that night, scissors
then razor, and felt as if I were cutting a living creature, as
if the blue-black pool at our feet were blood. Several times I
tried to stop my task--jaw-length, ear-length, close-cropped--but
Ruth would have none of it. "All, Naomi," she said, and I obeyed.
Whither thou goest.
In the end, Ruthie's hair was all on the floor, all of it gone,
all that lightless curtain lost. Silently, I led her into the
bedroom, where there was a full-length mirror, and I stood behind
her and looked. Her brow rose, higher and higher, uninterrupted,
suddenly pallid where it had never seen the sun. A quarter of an
inch of black stubble dotted the white skin, naked scalp peeking
through, Ruthie's vulnerable head there before me, her sharp
intelligent brown eyes still looking out of her wreck of a face.
I wasn't aware that tears were streaming down my own face until
Ruthie turned and reached up and wiped them away.

"Naomi," she was saying in distress, "oh Naomi, don't, don't,"
and that was when I kissed her.

I kissed the corner of her mouth, where there was no bruise,
where the chiselled line still showed me the Ruthie I had known.
It was warm and soft, and so close to her, I could smell a faint
hint of citrus and bourbon. She didn't say anything, only looked
at me. And I kissed her again, taking her face in my hands, not
thinking of anything but the comfort of skin on skin. I kissed
the corner of each eye, and the tip of her nose, and her chin,
every inch of skin I could find where there was no bruise or
scrape or set of stitches. I kissed the corner of her jaw, and
my thumbs traced inward and down.

There was no sound from Ruth, no response, and I pulled back. I
was ready to let her go, maybe try to laugh it off. And then I
felt Ruthie's arms go around me, and letting go became

Tentatively, I traced her throat with my fingertips, brushing
upward toward her ear, toward that fuzz of stubble on her scalp.
She shivered, and her hands tightened on my back, and she lifted
her face to me, her eyes open. I looked at her, and I kissed her
mouth, gently, softly, this time flicking her lips with my
tongue. And this time, I felt her kiss me back, felt her begin
to explore. It was my turn to shiver, and then to stifle a
laugh: the first time I'd kissed a boy, I'd been desperately
wondering where the noses went. By this time, I knew that part.
Now I was wondering where all the breasts were supposed to go.

I bent my head to Ruthie's slender neck and kissed it where her
warm pulse beat, an open-mouth kiss that left a moist trail on
her skin. Down and down, my hands on her bare pale shoulders,
kissing between her breasts. I turned my head, listening to her
heartbeat, and took her right nipple in my mouth. She sucked her
breath in through her teeth, and I felt her hands tighten on my
shoulders. Oh, delicious, I thought, delicious, and I reached
for her left breast with my right hand, rubbing that nipple into
hardness as well. My other hand ran down her side, bumping over
her ribs to her waist. Ruth's hands, light as birds, rested on
my head, tangling restlessly in my hair, and I realized that the
sound in the room was coming from me, my mouth on Ruthie's hard

We stumbled to the bed. I fumbled at the button of her jeans and
pulled them off her narrow hips, watching the way the curve of
her ass appeared and disappeared as she raised it off the bed,
jeans and black underwear off in a tangle. I was still fully-
dressed; Ruthie hadn't made any move to take my clothes off, so I
took them off myself, pulling my sweater off over my head and
shucking my khakis impatiently into a corner. The idea of my
skin on hers obsessed me. I just wanted to touch her, run my
palms over her, feel that fine-grained skin under my fingers.

But when I stood near the bed again, I hesitated. I thought
fleetingly of ten years gone, and of scars and bruises, and of
Stephen. I looked at Ruthie. Her pupils were huge in that
bruised face, her eyes almost black, and her breasts were rising
and falling quickly. I could see the pulse beating in her neck,
near the perfect indigo imprint of a man's finger. So I reached
out with my own index finger and touched her there, traced the
bruise, and then leaned in and kissed it, and was lost.

Hollows and curves. I kissed the high curve of her velveted
head, the shadowed hollow between the points of her collarbone,
traced the curve under her left breast, circled her nipple with
my tongue. Her small breasts were surprisingly heavy, solid in
my hands. I fit my fingers into the winged bruises along her
ribs, and carefully stroked her there, applying no pressure but
feathering along the skin, and she shivered under my touch. I
kissed the dent at her waist and the hollow of her navel, the
smooth warm curved skin of her belly, and there I caught the
first rich scent of her pussy. I felt dizzy for a moment, wet
beyond description, full of adrenaline and spreading warmth, my
own skin vividly aware of scraping along the cotton bedspread
where it was not sliding against Ruthie's hot skin. I looked up
at her. Her eyes were closed, and she was almost panting, but
she made no sound. Whither thou goest.

Lower. And now I was kissing her tightly-curled pubic hair, the
air around me redolent with her smell, and now I was tasting
something new and not new, something rich and strange and utterly
Ruth. I suddenly could not understand why so many men--why
Stephen, in fact--tended to use their tongue as an eleventh
finger of a kind, to stiffen it and use it to manipulate. Surely
it should be used as what it was: an organ of taste. I wanted
to be everywhere, everywhere. It was like licking raw silk, silk
that had been dipped and dipped in water, smooth and yet subtly
textured, and oh, the glorious novelty: the soft-over-hard of
Ruthie's clit, the way I could tug at the hood with my lips
(again, again, again), the springing juices, the soft sweet
folds. And now Ruthie was making noise: high cries with no
articulate words in them that matched the way her pussy was
clenching, clenching. I was pressing my thighs together over and
over, grinding my pussy against the bed, coming in tiny sharp
bursts, but all my sensation was in my mouth and nose, all my
being was focused on the hot sweet quivering loveliness of
Ruthie's pussy. My tongue, soft and flat, passed over her again
and again, tasting her, taking her in. I never wanted it to end.

It had to, of course. After endless minutes of my mouth on that
sweet hot skin, endless minutes of Ruthie coming under me, I felt
a light hand on the back of my head. I stopped moving my tongue
and rested a moment, then kissed that crinkle of blue-black hair
and moved back up beside her. I wanted to kiss her, even with my
tired jaw, but I had a hair on my tongue and her lovely sticky
scent all over my face and hand, and I didn't know the etiquette.
I wouldn't have minded it from Stephen, but surely these things
took time to find out. I smiled at her a little tentatively. She
was so beautiful in the light coming from the bathroom, even with
that bruised and swollen face and even with her lovely hair gone.
She was flushed deep pink from her orgasm, and her pupils were
dilated. Instead of kissing her, I lay down next to her on the
bed, that warmth still spreading inside me the way the bourbon
had. She didn't say anything. After a moment, she closed her
eyes, and so did I.

I must have fallen asleep for an hour or so. The next thing I
was aware of was that Ruthie was gone from the bed. I felt
drugged from the short sleep, disoriented, unaccountably happy.

And then I heard a low, passionate voice coming from the
bathroom, a voice so full of agony, so close to breaking that my
heart almost stopped. "--motherfucker, Greg you goddamned
bastard, look what you've done, you fuck, you fuck, you fuck--"
There was a tearing sob. I got up quickly and quietly from the
bed and went to the bathroom, standing out of the light of the
doorway. I could see Ruth, standing in front of the mirror,
naked, bald, pitiful in the harsh fluorescent light. She was
crying. "Fucker, fuck cuntlicker bastard, Greg you dogshit
motherfucking asshole," she was saying, and her voice was full of

"Ruth," I said, and she whirled to face me. My voice was
unexpectedly harsh, echoing off the bathroom walls. "Ruth, did
you tell the police that he did this?"

"What are you talking about?" she asked slowly, and there was no
trace of inflection in her voice, no hint of the vivid hurt of a
moment ago.

"Your boyfriend. Or husband. The man who did this to you. Did
you report this? Tell me you wouldn't cover this up, Ruth. Not
something like this. You wouldn't really be as stupid as that,
not a brilliant woman like you." Oh, God. Not that, no, Emma,
you are not her judge and jury, not after ten years. Her face
was frozen. Try again. "Do you need help? Do you need to get
away from him?" The words were spilling out of me. I didn't
know where they were coming from: Law and Order, ABC Afterschool
Specials, the Lifetime channel. "You don't have to ever see him
again. You can come and stay with me if you want to." A beat, my
furious heart pounding. "You didn't have to *lie* to me,
Ruthie." Another denunciation, another barrier, my voice still
sharp and jagged. She was silent. The words lay where they had
fallen, accusatory, pointing.

I looked at her icy stare, and somewhere I knew what was coming,
but I told her the angry, helpless truth: "I love you."

She looked at me for a moment, expressionless, naked, the tears
still wet on her face. "I think you should leave now, Emma," she
said, and I watched the door swing closed in her eyes.

So I left, mute and appalled by the sound of my own words still
echoing in my ears. I didn't have the courage to be a Ruth, to
say, I will not fail you nor forsake you, whither thou goest I
will go. I didn't have the courage to brave those chilly eyes.
I left that apartment building with her scent on my skin and her
taste on my mouth and I knew that this time there could be no
possible consolation. This time, the loss of Ruth Adamson was
irreparable, unique to me, something no one else could ever


Now I am lying in my bed in the dark, by myself. I am waiting
for the telephone to ring for the first time on the morning of
this freezing February sixth. I do not know whether it will be
Stephen, or whether it will be Ruth, or whether I will be able to
answer it in either case. The night outside my window is so
black it is blue, so blue it is impossible of description, and
Ruthie could hide in it if she wanted to.

"I know what kind of love this is," whispers the radio, here with
me in the darkness. "After all, I was there when we made it." I
place my bladed hand between my thighs, and wait for Ruth.

May the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part
thee and me.

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