Crickets sang their song in the pale moonlight of the Tanzanian sky when I went inside of Katherine’s tent. She sat up at a microscope, looking over slide after slide of various chemical reactions. There must have been nothing she had hoped for, because she slammed her fist on the table and screamed. She wiped her hands across the table, flinging the microscope to the ground. Everything crashed to the makeshift, wooden floors.
“Are you okay Katherine?”
Her face turned bright red. She turned around, looking at me with her beautiful, sapphire eyes. Pools of disappointment gathered like a storm. “I…”
She cried silently and pushed her way past me, going out of the tent.
As she went by, I said, “I was only coming to tell you that we need supplies again and –”
After leaning down to pick up the mess, I followed her outside. She sat on the front steps, with her head in her hands.
“Go away,” she said.
“Katherine, you can’t be so hard on yourself.” I sat down beside her. She ran her hands through her hair, almost pulling on it. I steadied her hands, touching her gently. Lavender and spice, like cinnamon, drifted from her. I could feel my teeth growing.
“Nothing I do works. Years and years before you came, and even now. Nothing at all.” She lifted her head, waterworks streaming. I couldn’t look at her any longer. My hunger grew intense.
“We’ll keep trying, Katherine. That’s all we can do.”
Katherine ducked her head again, taking me by surprise as she pushed into my chest. She nuzzled against me and it felt...nice. I wanted her badly. Taking deep breaths, I tried to restrain myself. I struggled, staring at the moon and thinking of ants crawling all over my skin.
Rain started to fall, but it didn’t matter. I sat there for a long while, just holding her.
When I returned from getting supplies, Katherine had gone out with the workers. I replaced her broken microscope brought new slides, food and various tools. After setting everything up, I left the tent and laid a single flower down on her tent’s doorstep.
I watched from high up in the trees as she found the rose. Katherine looked around, not seeing me, and smelled the flower. A gentle smile played across her face that held the warmth of a thousand suns.
Love was always so painful, because I had to be so far away. Distance was the only safety valve I knew.