From Jenny Williams


Two Doves

By Jenny Williams

Five days we stayed at the small hotel on the lakeshore. The heat was a heavy coat we couldn’t peel, the shower a cool hand slipped beneath the collar. We stripped below the fan and sprawled across the floor: static bodies, moving air.

I wanted more and he, less; this was the line we walked, a revolving bridge that always turned us out on the same shore.


Four directions on the compass, a spinning needle. Whirl a globe and halt it with a finger; shoot an arrow at an atlas. Every “there” we’d been had traded places in my mind, a game of musical countries.

In India, we made love in the ocean and drank too much gin. In Kenya, we bought wedding bracelets made from melted bullets. In Guatemala, we lay on the wood floor of a small hotel, together. Alone.

I wanted to know: How could I show the course of love on a map? Where did we stray? Where did we converge? These were the questions of landscape that mattered; this was the topography of the heart.


Three years we were together. The month after we met, he brought me chocolate mints and performed numerical acrobatics with my name. We sprawled across the dewy grass at a concert and I said, So this is what it’s like to fall.

He said I’d grown more beautiful in the years since, but what he meant was, I am looking for reasons to love you again.


Two doves, building a nest in the rafters outside our room one morning at the small hotel on the lakeshore. I watched their meticulous partnership for hours. The male flitted from roof to lawn and back again. The female fussed and trimmed and pruned and cooed, content in her domestic world.

I tried to remember the last time I hung a picture on a wall.


One egg, speckled perfection. It appeared that evening, whole, miraculous. When I noticed them—dove, egg—she was sitting to one side of it, her tiny head cocked in astonishment, or revelation. The egg lay inches from the edge.

There was no nest. A full day’s work and nothing but a few tangled strands at the foot of the beam. Was it a flaw of the brush, a grass that wouldn’t gather? Or had the need to lay come too soon?

Muy peligroso, murmured a woman passing. Very dangerous.

I pulled him out of the room to look.

It’s sad, he said. But what can you do?


You watch. You sit. You hold vigil into the night, until the dark closes in. And at dawn when you find tiny pieces of eggshell on the floor and a glistening stickiness between, you honor the thing that almost was; you mourn the thing that never became; and you think: So this is what it’s like to fall.


Editor’s Note: We invited Jenny Williams to share a story inspired by the Break-Up Blog–we’re so grateful that she did. For more of Jenny’s beautiful writing and art visit