He hadn’t known she would leave first thing in the morning. The argument they had the night before tested the strength of their relationship. They had failed. They were failing - he was blind to it all before. The colder side of his bed lured him over and he turned to lie in the space she left. His heart pulsed and his hands twitched. His pillow was wet. Had he cried while he was asleep? Why couldn’t she have waited to say goodbye?
The bedroom was dark - no light had entered during the morning hours. He limped over to the window and pulled the curtains back - opened the blinds. He would make a fresh, hot pot of coffee. It was something she’d always done, but she was not there.
While the percolator purred, he checked their closets. All of her things were gone. The skis they purchased together the year before were too. She’d always said she’d take those if they split. She kept her word. He searched the bathrooms for reminders. A few strands of her auburn hair rested at the mouth of the sink - waiting to be washed down. He feathered them gently between his two fingers before releasing them.
The sound of the running water prompted tears to fall. He stood there - buck naked and unashamed - alone with his tears. He took two deep breaths and sat down on the toilet. This was a thing Ava hated - him spending far too much time in the bathroom - far too much time on the porcelain throne. Far too much time sheltered and shuttered away from her. He sighed. His world had been crumbling - cracking - and he would not pick the pieces up in time to move on.
He poured the piping hot coffee into his favorite mug. The quote on it said, “Go be great. Then, sleep.” Ava hated the mug. But he drank from it every day, anyway. The morning sun pressed itself on his stony face and found its home underneath his eyes. Tuning the radio, he selected his favorite channel to listen to some music. The last thing he needed was a blast from the past that led him to more thoughts of Ava. More tears. More momentary solitary seconds of surefire sadness. He wept . . . He wept . . . He fell into the pits of depression.
The day was beginning without him, and he knew he had to shake himself free from the tight grip of melancholy. He had a presentation at work in two days and, knowing his boss as he did, he knew he would need to make some last-minute changes. Ava would help him with his presentations by sitting and listening to him as he mock-presented his work. She would critique and applaud and give him the support he needed.
He set up the area, created the projection onto his living room wall, and talked to an invisible audience. Halfway through his concept, the tears crept in once again. He lowered his body to the floor and sunk into the plush carpet. He’d call in sick - surely he could not work today. As soon as he reached for his phone, a message appeared from Ava.
“Hey, I’ve forgotten a few things. I’ll be over before you head out to work. Shouldn’t take long.”
He read the message five times before settling back into the floor - his body curled into itself, alone with his thoughts of . . . her . . . and the reality of the end of them.
©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt, Originally published via Simily.