The morning was bright if not warm, early sunshine bouncing off snow. Quentin locked his apartment door, slowing down the burglars by three or four seconds. Hurrying downstairs, he noticed a black mitten trying the locked door, and then too quietly to be heard, the mitten knocked at the glass,
Quentin looked outside and she stared in at him, and then both remembered to smile. He fumbled with the knob and stepped outside, and Farah said, “You’re leaving.”
“I’ve got to be somewhere,” he said, the sentence emerging as one brusque word.
“Oh that’s all right,” she claimed.
The woman was thinner, and despite the season, darker.
“I should have called first,” she offered.
“No, this is fine.” Giving his watch one more glance, he said, “Mail.”
“Yours is in a box upstairs.”
“Of course. Thank you.”
Farah was thinner and her hair had changed. Longer, he thought, and not quite so black. She was wearing silver trousers that seemed familiar and a huge fake-fur coat, wine-colored and apparently new. She stood closer than he expected. He smelled mint on her breath. Big eyes stared without blinking, the first traces of wrinkles showing exactly where a woman would find them in a treacherous mirror.
“Let me get your mail,” he volunteered.
She followed Quentin indoors but remained on the ground floor. He took the stairs three-at-a-time. Somebody had moved the box—probably the imaginary burglar. Finally returning, he heard a downstairs door closing. Maybe Farah had fled. He hoped so, and he hoped she hadn’t. But there she was, exactly where Quentin left her.
“Did I hear someone?”
“A woman,” she said, pointing at the neighbors’ door. “I think I scared her. She jumped back inside.”
“You're terrifying,” he said.
“Everybody is terrifying,” she said.
They stepped onto the front porch, Farah picking her way through the topmost letters and advertisements.
“Something comes most days,” he said.
She nodded, holding one interesting letter to the sun. The Farsi script was masculine, precise.
“I suppose they’ll start delivering to your apartment now.”
She set the unopened letter back in the box. Looking at him, she played with her smile. “I’m still not back there.”
“For now, I’m with friends.”
“So would you mind if my mail came here?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said, hearing what she wanted to hear. One hand grabbed his elbow and sleeve of his worn black dress jacket. “You’re nicely dressed.”
“I’m getting married today,” Quentin said.
“Very good." She laughed quietly.
He dropped down one step. “I went to Immigration.”
Nothing could surprise Farah. “I suppose you had to.”
“I took care of things.”
“And you need to get your own mail,” he told her.
“I will. Soon.”
Quentin wasn’t looking at Farah. Staring into the street, he told both of them, “I need to be kept informed.”
Nodding, she remarked, “Your neighbor seems pretty.”
With him on the lower step, their eyes were even. “Are you sleeping with that girl, Quentin?”
“There’s two ladies in that apartment,” he said.
“And you sleep with both of them?”
“All the time.”
“And you’re getting married today.” She patted him on the shoulder, offering a lascivious laugh. “Oh, I always knew my husband was a stallion!”