Elton always took off his glasses and set them on the nightstand. He did it the same way every time, no matter what the circumstances of the day, or how silly the glasses were. You don't know why this stuck out to you, but there it was, the motion so imprinted into your brain.
The first time, it was sort of funny. You saw it after he was done with a successful show, early in your relationship. The excitement and buzz of the concert clung to your heels and sprung you forward as you rushed together into the room.
Your hearts were beating fast as you fumbled
for the door handle, but who finally reached it didn't matter;
you were one unit, excitement, and nerves jumbled
together, just, "Yes"s and heavy breathing
Hands and mouths and a quick pulse that tumbled
Onto the bed
You laughed when he pulled back
to gently remove his clunky glasses
his fingers were set just so-
So as not to smudge the tinted lenses
He laughed too, and you were back onto each other again, and nothing else mattered.
That's how it was in the beginning, your slice on top of the world, bright and explosive, and flowing through your veins like poetry.
You went all around the world with Elton. You loved it, of course. And you loved him. You went everywhere, but he was what drew your eyes. That's how you learned it: You were in his home, with every wall in the room covered with art and rarities beckoning the attention of occupants, but all you wanted to look at was Elton. And so you did, and you learned that Elton always took off his glasses in the same way.
He came back tired and fried, but you were always waiting there. He sat down on the bed and let the stresses of the day flake off of him and onto the floor. He raised a hand to his face, and he gently peeled them off: the fake smiles and bravery, the show, the facade-- his fingers just so, so as not to smudge the lenses. You would hold him for a long time, on days like that. You would hold him close and tell him all the pretty words you could think of to rinse out the travel-weariness from his legs. You would kiss his calloused hands and his worn heart, and any other part of him that you wanted to kiss. Then you would hold him some more until you fell asleep wrapped around each other.
It started small. He was tired and stressed, and would pour himself a drink before bed, then set his glasses down next to the empty glass. He began to be unable to make it through the night without a line. You woke up on opposite sides more often. You learned that he puts his glasses down on the nightstand the same way when he's just inhaled powdered poison from the bathroom counter. Fingers just so, so as not to smudge the lenses. You know it's just on the frames instead. It's everywhere.
Elton always put his glasses down on the nightstand in the same way. Fingers just so, so as not to smudge the lenses. Maybe this is why you remember: You saw it in hotel rooms, in planes, and in your homes. You saw it in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Did he know that you noticed?
Fingers just so, so as not to smudge the lenses. Maybe this is why you remember: He did it when he was drunk, high, or sober. He did it after you'd had your worst fight. He did it the night you realized that he was destroying himself.
You wonder if he still does it, somewhere far away. You wonder if someone else sees it now, and fell in love with the motion.
Elton always put his glasses on the nightstand in the same way. But no, this is why you really remember: He did it when he was hurting, angry, and afraid. He did it after you'd had your last fight. He did it after you realized you could never stop him.
That's how he is, in your memory. You took one last look as you walked out the door. He didn't want to see you go. His face was turned mostly away, and his arm was reaching up. Fingers just so, so as not to smudge the lenses.