They stood in the doorway with the sun coming in. Her leaning against the doormast with her hands in her jean pockets and looking outside into the distance. He had his arms crossed, back straight against the open door and one foot on either side of the entrance. He was looking down and breathing in slowly, intentionally.
Olanna, their (was she still ‘theirs’? who did she now belong to?) grey and black cat, gazed at them lazily from the table by the door. She was clearly confused by this seeming stand-off and what seemed to be tension in the air. She offered a few quiet meows to break the heavy silence to no avail and resigned to silence. She watched them silently.
He sighed heavily and opened his mouth to start apologising and she flashed her eyes at him so he snapped his mouth shut.
“Don’t. I am not sorry”, she said, trying not to sound as angry as she felt. She wasn’t angry at him. She was angry at herself, at life, at this moment for losing him.
He looked hurt nonetheless. He was desperate not to hurt her but he needed to go and it just… they both knew it didn’t work. Surely knowing was supposed to be better? Pulling the band aid quickly was supposed to be better right? Why didn’t it feel better? He bit his lip trying to find the strength not to cry. He could feel a sharp pain in his chest. It was all he could do not to gasp for air. She had described his love like a light that had shone on her scars and made her feel seen and whole even with her broken in full view. Seen. It was the first he had heard that at 1am that night as she dozed off in his arms and her braids on his chest. He did see her. It was easy to recognise the same hurt in another. Didn’t similar souls find shelter in the same places? Had our fathers not left the same mark? Yes, he saw her. The crying, the laughter, the joy, the expanse of love she so clearly held. To love her was to confront yourself uneasily, to debate what it meant to love so easily and to reevaluate what the hell it meant to love before this very moment. This is why this so fucking hurt. To say he was broken would be an understatement but this was necessary.
“I am trying…”, he whispered. She turned away from him slightly and took a loud breath in. In looking into the house she saw him all over their damn house. Fuck, not theirs. There wasn’t a theirs.
She understood what he was saying. Logically, clearly, she understood the words and what they meant. The story they told however wasn’t computing. How is this happening? How had she allowed so much feeling so that this moment, that had a part of her heart being cut open, could happen? Why was she so angry? This was so unfair. So deeply unfair, to have mined for this for so long only to have this moment. She held onto the doorpost to catch herself from feeling dizzy. Jesus, she wanted to hate him. Why couldn’t she just hate him? Why did he have to be the softest part of her heart?
“I know you are… I want you to be…”, she sighed the words out. Not having his voice around. His hiking boots no longer by the door. No more random rap music in the shower. Missing his smile as he dozed off. Losing the bad jokes that made her roll her eyes. The loss of the poetry of his words when he was overwhelmed by emotion and she smiled at him. Her eyes were filled with the tears of what this future would look like and it was cold. It was the loneliest she could imagine. This was heartbreak.
Olanna walked out into the garden and sauntered between them, through the door. She meowed again, bored by the seemingly lack of movement of these two. How was she to know the walls were falling in?
“I should leave”, he said firmly, uncrossing his arms and putting his hands into his shorts.
“Yes.” she said, despite everything she wanted to say. She was drowning in what she wanted to say. She had never drowned in an ocean like this.
Neither moved from the doorway and the dusk light was starting to come in between them. Finally a force makes him take another breathe and step out of this time warp. He stepped into the garden and, when the cold air hit, he realised his jacket was still inside their house (theirs? hers, his, the?). He decided he could get it when he came back with his boxes while she was out tomorrow. At this moment, he couldn’t go back. She was still leaning against the doorpost, looking into the oncoming darkness in the house. She didn’t want to cry in front of him. He walked down the path and looked back only when he heard the blue door close.