At the beginning, she would count the hours until he returned and enclosed her in his radiance, bringing blossom-rained meadows which would welcome her, and star-tinkled streams which would sing sweetly of the purity of their love.
Then after weeks of secret assignations, guiltily he would retreat back into his own life, leaving the trees and the flowers, walking past cold concrete and wet pavements into the everyday warmth of another love.
She would count the days of her exemption from the swell of his embrace, and carry a picture inside her head, of a blonde slick of hair falling over Germanic blue eyes; of the sudden flick of the head which flung it out of the way, only for it to settle in the same position a moment later; of a rueful smile that filled her chest with floating feathers.
But she knew that he loved her and that knowledge sustained her, as days became weeks and turned into months, and she waited for him to return and clear the blizzard that raged in her head.
And then one day, at the sound of the bell she would open her door, and he would be standing there again, his eyes filled with longing, apology and sorrow, his arms outstretched. She would walk into them, and, hidden from unfriendly eyes, the meadows and streams would expand and enfold them again, singing out the melody while carefully omitting the chorus.
For eight years she enjoyed oases of such pleasures, and during those weeks, each night she would tick off the hours before they would be together again, but these all too rare periods were followed by months of drought, while away from her, in the arms of his wife, he sowed the seeds of his children, and played with them in the park as they grew.
Although they were helplessly tangled together, he never touched her naked body, but when she pressed her cheek against his chest, and he entwined his fingers in her hair she felt complete.
During the months of his absence, physical intimacy made no difference to her either way: she was without feeling, so she allowed her body to be sullied by those who thought that sex may lead to love, as was the fashion. It passed the time, and seemed to make others happy, until he walked into her life again, and she walked out of theirs without a backward glance.
One day, desire overcame his morals, and as he hurriedly assisted her out of her clothing, she momentarily believed that this was what she had always desired from him. Afterwards, while she lay naked in his arms, feeling somehow cheated, he told her that he wanted to be with her always, that he was going to leave his family that night, collect her, and they would go away together.
Sweat glistened on their bodies, forming a film which separated them minutely. She looked at the ground beside her head, and realised that the moisture had been sucked from the grass by the excessive heat of the sun, and she felt that they were to blame, with their greed for each other.
She knew she would always love him.
She rang his wife, who had known about her even before they had married. She apologised and made a promise that she would not see him again. His wife expressed a gentle gratitude of which she felt unworthy.
She moved away from the crackling of dry leaves, to a flat-in-a-house-in-a-street-in-a-town; to emptiness which she filled with pointlessness, and replaced with love and purpose when she married a good man, and had children of her own.
Many years have passed, and now her eldest grandchild is the age that he was when they met. Before she goes to sleep each night, she counts the years, the months and the weeks since she last saw him and she smiles as she looks at the picture inside her head, of a blonde slick of hair falling over Germanic blue eyes; of the sudden flick of the head which flung it out of the way, only for it to settle in the same position a moment later; of a rueful smile which even now causes her chest to fill with floating feathers.
Although the longing for him has never gone away, she is glad that she returned him to his family. She knows his life is richer without her.
But she knows too, that even now, his gentle love protects her from demons that would otherwise devour her.
Sometimes when she sleeps, he comes to her, arms outstretched, and she lays her cheek on his chest and feels his heart beating.
When she awakes, she almost believes that that is enough.