"I don't write poems anymore."
Z said it while looking out the window, his back to me. The light coming from the window cast a pointed shadow behind his figure. For some reason, I couldn't take my eyes away from it.
A moment passed in silence. I could feel that Z wanted me to speak, but I couldn't find the words. Instead, I managed only a small utterance.
"Oh," I said to his shadow.
The sun ducked behind the clouds, and the room fell into semi-darkness. Taken by surprise, my eyes tried to adjust, and I squinted. I couldn't see the shadow anymore.
It didn't matter because in the next instant he turned, and I could feel his gaze on me.
"I thought you'd be disappointed."
By his tone, I could tell he was.
"Yeah, well," I said, managing to look up at him for the first time since entering the room, "Yeah." I fumbled the last word and looked down again. A small silence ensued, and I was sure I heard him smile.
But when he spoke his voice was somber.
"A lot can change in eight years, I guess."
In answer, I gave him my silence.
He pressed on. "Like you. I see you still write. What is it… infomercials or something?"
"It's hard to make a living writing sonnets," I said, voice cool. I could feel my insides twist in a mixture of emotions I couldn't describe.
"No," Z said, and his voice was gentle, soft. "No, you can't."
Something in his tone caused me to look up. Z was standing by the hotel room door, staring at me. He looked older.
I met his gaze and said, "So you don't write." The words sounded strange coming out of my mouth. I wanted to take them back.
Z kept his face even, but it took him a moment to reply. "No," he said, and then he smiled. He was older, but still the same, I noticed. Somehow, it made me sad. "That's not it."
I managed what I thought was a smile and said, "I see. Well, things change—I guess."
I didn't dare say the words that suddenly threatened to burst from me: "Then what? What is it?"
Z returned my smile and put his hand on the doorknob. Perhaps he could sense that I wanted him to go. "You have my number," he said. "I'll see you at eight."
With that, he twisted the knob and disappeared through the door. I heard a click as it fell shut, but I waited until I could no longer hear his footsteps before I stirred.
Z didn't write poetry anymore.
I covered my face and burst into tears.