He holds his thumb to the pulse in her neck, presses. I could make you lose consciousness, he said. I could do that.
She is not adverse, has no allegiance to the ornamental pears that burst into selected beauty all around them, releasing the scent of rotting meat— The image of them in this garden, sprawled on the last grasses of summer need not remain uncultivated, though he is a wilderness, though she is. There are graftings that have taken. There are careful prunings. She might see this last gesture as kindness, not a threat. I could, he is saying, but I won’t.
When she shifts her position and her hair falls around his face—again the beauty takes precedence over any utility— he doesn’t care if she shades his face from the sun, just that she is, for this last time, there.