Later she would catch pieces of his scent and travel back to this moment in her mind. She doesn’t know that know though. Now, she knows that he’s going to go home. That she has another hour before she has to wake up. She knows by his hand gently encompassing her back, under her shoulder blades. She knows this from the small kisses trailing across from shoulder blade to neck to her other shoulder blade. She knows by the fabric of his shirt covering her exposed arm, and from his smell that warms her soul, like logs added to a Christmas fire.
“I’ll see you later,” he whispered as he leans in to kiss her forehead, “goodbye.”
Slowly his fabric, his skin, the warmth, they all leave her skin. But not his scent. His earthy air stays in her nose, on her pillow, on her skin. It will stay there until she breathes it all in. In an hour she’ll get up, begrudgingly shower, and head to work herself. She won’t see it coming, but on her drive to work her safe, responsible car will be forced into the middle lane as a man drives into the barely there left shoulder and the left lane with his hatchback to get around her — she will be going sixty-eight miles an hour. The driver of the hatchback sees the construction material up ahead and will start to pull back into the left lane to avoid a collision. Don’t worry, he will be fine, because aren’t they all? As he does this, he will clip her car with the back of his hatchback. She will cut her wheel to the right ever so slightly. In her panic she does not see the 18-wheeler getting into the middle lane. Her car will end up trapped between the hatchback and the 18-wheeler. The other drivers will be fine. The hatchback will sustain little to no damage, as if he sideswiped a concrete pole at a respectable speed. The 18-wheeler will barely have scuff. Her car will be totaled. Her car would have been three years old the next month, had it made it. She, well, she will end up being rushed to the closest hospital, and then transferred to one with a better trauma center after she is stabilized.
Her lover will find out from her co-worker, who will find out after speaking to her own husband. He will be the responding officer to the scene. He will visit her everyday before work for the seven months following her accident. Every morning he will come in, place a cup of coffee and a cigarette on her bedside table and hold her hand for twenty minutes. He starts an audiobook for her, and before he goes he kisses her clavicle, her neck, and the other clavicle. His hand will rest gently on her stomach. He will not cry until he gets in his car.
In her mind she made it to work that day, and every day after. In her mind, she will do her job as she had for the years before, she will see her friends and co-workers, but he will have left her. She will have a fuzzy memory of their mutual friend and her coworker talking about a terrible accident and the heartbreak of it all. She will assume that he was in an accident and mourn him to the best of her ability. She will not know that she is in a coma, and that he visits her. She will regret never telling him that she fucked up — that she loved him — even though she sworn to those who knew that she didn’t.
On the day they are prepping her for her organ removal before they pull her plug, he will come to see her with his usual cup of coffee and a cigarette. She will be laying on her stomach. He will silently swear and rejoice that this is how he will have to say goodbye to her. He will remember the day of her accident and how he threw up in the men’s room after he had heard. His throat will catch as he watches his hands engulf her body as places his hand under her shoulder blades. His eyes will water as he kisses her from one shoulder blade, to her neck, to her other shoulder blade. His heart will beat faster than the first time he saw her, kissed her, made her laugh, or even made love to her as he leans into her ear. “I love you,” he will whisper before he kisses her temple, “goodbye.” Slowly his fabric, his skin, the warmth, they all leave her skin. But not his scent. His earthy air stays in her nose, she will remember the last moment she had him. “I love you too,” she will attempt to say as she starts to choke and her body begins convulsing. He will rush to the hall and scream until two nurses, a doctor, and a security guard are at her bedside. Well, the security guard will be between him and the medical staff, but you can never be too safe, can you? He will cry as she is essentially brought back to life before his eyes. His boss will understand as he calls and explains in the simplest of terms, “family emergency.” Her mother will hug him, even though he has never introduced himself to her. She will cry with him, and laugh as he hands him 11 full packs of cigarettes, and one with only 12 inside from her drawer. She will put her hand on his arm and silently pray as the doctor explains her status. She will be fine, but she will not remember the past seven months. From talking to her, the best he will understand is that she thinks her lover just left and she has to get up for work in an hour. “His smell,” she will tell them, “it woke me up before my alarm. I love everything about him, but especially his smell.