28 Oct

I had spent the morning chopping and seeding five pounds of jalapeño, serrano, and Anaheim peppers with my bare hands, which is why my bewildered husband held the dainty tube of sunscreen and followed my instructions to pump a small smudge on the tip of his fingers and rub it evenly over my face. 

I stood in front of him and closed my eyes and waited. His fingers hesitated, radiating warmth, then pressed cool moisture against the tender skin under my eyes, traversed my cheekbones and descended along my jawline. Fingers as light as horsehair traced a spiral on my cheek, coming to rest in the dent of my dimples. One lifted to paint a unhurried vertical line down the crest of my nose, another a wide avenue above my lip, a promenade above my chin. I wondered if he’d remember my forehead. But I felt instead his lips remembering mine. We both opened our eyes in mute surprise. 

Could it be that we’d gone this long without noticing the other? Was there still more to discover in this familiar face? Had our self-sufficiency neutralized our neediness? I thanked him. He nodded. In their bowl, the chilis blushed. Outside, the leaves turned.