“Sit on the end of the bed,” I say.
“Hands in your lap.”
Tina does as I ask, putting her hands together, letting them fall slightly into the space between her thighs. She is wearing an old cardigan, a whisper of blue still clinging to the thin fabric. It’s open in the front, revealing to my eye, but I know that when I take the photo, the curves beneath will be lost in the shadows painted on her by the fading evening light.
“Don’t move,” I say. I go to her, and with the tip of my finger, I move the hair out of her face, guiding it away from the light on the left side of her, and into the darkness of the right. I step away from her until my back is pressed against the bedroom wall, and raise the camera to my eye.
“I’m going to kiss you after,” she says. “When you get your shot.”
“Uncross your legs,” I say. She’s not wearing pants. The light on her bare skin is warm, like drifting campfire smoke.
“And then I’m going to write it in my book.” I can see her book in the background of the frame, on her nightstand on her side of the bed, the side closest the door. She’s kept it there every night for the past six months, since we moved in together. She has never told me what she writes in it, and I’ve never looked inside it.
“I’m going to kiss you twice,” she says. “Then you’re going to kiss me back.”
“Raise your chin just a hair. Little more. Stop.”
“You’re going to kiss me anywhere I tell you.”
Through the lens, the edges of the bed push in toward her as they move away from her, seeming to draw what little light there is inward and around her face. The dark wood of the headboard puts a comfortable halo of darkness behind her, which further brings her forward into the image, softly, gently.
“Six months,” she says. “It’s not an anniversary. I don’t know what you call it.”
“Don’t move,” I say. I hurry to the window and adjust the sheer white curtain in front of it, taking out a line in the fabric that was distracting to my eye. The light is fading quickly, and I want to get the shot.
“Hex? Isn’t hex six? A hexiversary. That might be it.”
I stand against the wall again, and lift the camera.
“Do you feel hexed?” she asks.
“Look at me,” I say.
She moves her eyes at me, but it’s off, removed from the moment, not a part of it. She’s looking at the lens, but not at the man behind it.
“No,” I say. “Look at me.”
She knows what I’m asking, what I’m needing, and so she shifts her view, the barest of motions, almost imperceptible… and then with that, everything is perfect. She is perfect.
“Is that it?” she asks as I lower the camera.
“One and done,” I say. “It’s your hexiversary present.”
“If you want yours,” she says, “I’ll have to take this sweater off.”
“We have dinner reservations. It’ll screw up our plans.”
She stands up from the bed, then lets the cardigan fall to the floor. “You of all people know how bad I am at following a plan.” She steps over the sweater and comes to me. She puts one hand behind my neck and draws me down, and then kisses me once on the mouth, and then once more. “Now you kiss me,” she says, and I do, letting my lips linger, her taste on my tongue. When we finally pull apart, she says, “Now put your camera down and come to bed. We can get pizza later. It’s a hexiversary tradition.”
“Now that,” I say, “is a plan I can definitely get behind.”