She stirs the pot bubbling steam-hot on the stove and talks of home. Her words are broken, mine too, but we both speak longing fluently and that is understood.
We are split apart by class and culture, by the passport that lets me leave, but in the kitchen we are just women. There is no need for more or less.
It is less than a mile to the border, the line that ricochets sharply across the map and shears the fields.
I can see the green grass of the other side of the wall, stood on tiptoes at my window. It seems close enough to touch, and as she speaks the road to her village seems to roll out, vivid and real, peopled with her stories.
She doesn’t make plans. She says she might return tomorrow or perhaps next month. It is life a she says she’s certain she will go back to, but in truth, it is probably long gone, faded flat, rubble-bombed.
She tells me about her university, her friends, mum, dad and brothers waiting, paused in present tense.
One day I find her crying over her coffee cup. I hunt for the words in the jumble of the cutlery drawer, but find nothing right. I move forward to hug her but the arching spaces between us yawn wide in a moment and butt me back. My hand settles on her shoulder, awkwardly affectionate. I hope sincerity speaks.
I tell her that I went there once, that it is beautiful. She corrects me, saying it was, but is not now.
War changes everything.