“How’d you get into vinyl?” he asks. “Most women aren’t into that kind of thing.”
“You’re a chauvinist?” I laugh, teasing him, trying to pull a chuckle out of his stone face.
“Not the first time I’ve heard that.”
“Definitely not the last if you continue to act the way you do.” I sigh playfully. His face is still solemn. But he looks calm, like he’s in his element. Like he’s found a hiding place that he can escape to with not a care in the world, just a man willfully trapped in the bliss of melody. “To answer your question, I got into it from my husband…he passed away a few years ago.” I pause and crack a slight smile. “He used to have a room in our home…my home…it was his room. Reagan and I couldn’t go in there. ‘Those silly records’ is what I used to call them. Every Saturday morning he’d go to the record shop for a few hours and he’d always come back with a few records. Fingers dusty. I’d make him lunch. Tuna fish or spaghetti salad, but I’d make him wash his hands before he ate. And then he’d spend all afternoon in that room. Lost in the music. That was his escape.” I clear my throat, faded recollections bubbling up to the surface of my mind. “I just miss him so much.” I pound my fist into my thigh. We catch eyes and don’t let go. “I used to give him so much shit. ‘Why don’t you leave those silly records alone and come and chill with your wife,’ I’d say. I was just being a woman…wanting some attention and not letting a man be a man. I’d kill to be able to lie with him on that wooden floor and listen to music all day. Just be silent with him and listen—”
“—to their voice or hold them close and listen to they rhythm of their heartbeat,” Lucas says cutting me off. “Or stare into their eyes and curl her hair around your finger.” He pauses. His eyes are directed towards the curtain. A sliver of light slices through it. He’s looks off somewhere. Not here. Nowhere on this earth. Somewhere in the brightest corners of his mind—where the memories that are able to get you through a shitty day lie. They’re sunshine peeking through after a storm. His eyes are soft and his voice isn’t icy and cutting as it was. There’s a forgiving timbre to it now. Like he’s speaking in a rhythm like a soft saxophone.
“You lost someone too?” I ask.
His fingers pluck at the hairs on his chin. He nods, without connecting with my eyes. “My wife.”
“Dear lord. I’m sorry. How long were you married?”
“You’d give anything to hear her voice again,” he says not answering, still trapped in the trance of his past. He’s locked in. Locked in that paralyzing freeze of what life was and how it was snatched away. “Any amount of money…everything that you own, even your own freedom, just to see her face. To have her scent fill your nostrils.”
“That’s the hardest part.” Water fills my eyes. “You can still smell their scent.”
“On an old pillow. Or a box of sweaters in the closet. You can’t escape it. No matter how hard you try.”
I wife away a tear that falls off my eyelid. “What was her name?”
He takes the headphones from around his neck and springs off the stool. “I…I gotta go.” He sniffles and brushes the tip of his nose with the top of his hand.
Our eyes fasten onto each other’s. And for the first time, I don’t see him as a stranger. I know what he’s endured and he sees it in me too. We’ve tasted pain before.