He is unlike the others. Whereas they have been tall and thin as reeds, pale-skinned and dark-haired, cool bordering on frosty, and always, always observing with disapproving judgment, this one is gregarious, interested, and full of humor. His skin is warm with captured sunlight, and his brown hair and neat beard and mustache reflect, too, time spent out-of-doors. He is shorter than they have been (though taller than I); his shoulders are broad from use, though he is somewhat softer of flesh.
The evening slides with shadow. Arms crossed over his chest, he leans against a tree in these woods where I work within a small section of kitchen fitted seamlessly into the arboreal landscape — one wall, a pool of linoleum floor. China dishes flash bright as moonlight as I remove them from the breakfront, stack them carefully into cardboard boxes. And he leans and watches my progress, and he talks — he finished the cabinet at last, though it took much longer than expected. The inlays had been intricate, complex; the spindles and turned legs delicate. Packing the cabinet for shipment had taken additional time and care. He had feared his return here, to me, would not coincide with the time of dragonflies, is pleased to find otherwise. At this last observation, I pause to glance about me with surprise and delight — the dragonflies are everywhere. They dart and hover within the bowl of night, iridescent wings glancing brightly. I am haloed with their movements; they rest on my hair and shoulders.
Now, he makes simple statements — “I like this”, “I like that”. My flat response to each of his utterances affirms my agreement, though I keep unshelving the China, continue to pack and stack it, confine it to cardboard. Until he utters his last adoration — and I turn excitedly, my skirts swirling and licking about my ankles — “So do I!!!”