He pulled on his shoes in silence.
She slapped the blue and white striped dishtowel onto the counter. Putting a hand on her hip, she said, “You’re going out on a Sunday like a tourist?”
He sighed and picked up his gloves. As he reached for the door, she touched his shoulder.
“It’s chilly on the water. Let me get you a sweater.”
He bowed his head and dropped his hand to his side.
She came back with the green sweater she made him last Christmas. Slipping it over his head, he pushed his arms through the sleeves that ended four inches past his fingertips. He tugged the sweater down over his paunch. Pushing the sleeves up his forearms, he felt the wool she had softened with wash after wash. As he opened the door, she pecked him on the cheek.
Turning to her, his eyes flitted to her flattened belly. She stifled a sob. He looked away, stepping into a hall table covered with a half-dozen empty vases. He spun around to catch a tall crystal one before it fell. Then he left; the door swung shut behind him.
The marina was deserted when he stepped onto the dock. In reply to the clang of a far-off buoy, a bell on a sailboat’s mast chimed. His skiff sat in its slip rocking in the low wake.
He stepped onto the boat, and his non-slip shoe lost its traction. The sweater sleeve caught on the boom and tugged at his arm like one more obligation. Muttering, he untangled the wool from the cleat, ripping a hole.
Sitting on the bench, he pushed his thumb through the tear and sighed. Another thing she made for him ruined. He couldn’t hang onto anything these days.
Pulling a small crumpled square of glossy paper out of his pocket, he gazed at the white smudge floating in a sea of black.
He worked at the sweater’s hole and found the torn stitch. Pulling at the yarn, he began to unravel the sleeve. He dug in his pocket, pulled out his knife, and flipped it open. He cut the thread and held it in his hands. Tying the end off, he rolled the yarn into a ball, and put it into his pocket. Into his pocket went the knife. Into his pocket went the crumpled paper.
He sat in his boat, rocking away the early hours. The sun moved behind a cloud. The chill she warned about scurried onto the boat and settled on his shoulders. It climbed into his empty lap and cuddled against his chest, waiting to be held.