And then, just like that, it’s over.
He hits the wall and turns to you, cold and hard in the face of the face you love with a voice you know like your own. I’m done.
You don’t believe it at first. Walk behind him, stepping over the debris to where you parked the car. Breathe through a cigarette. Drive him home in the dark. Tomorrow he’ll forget. You’ll be sorry, you’ll do better, you’ll be better. You’ll be someone else. Don’t be done.
He lets you stay in his bed, far away from his flesh with all the shrapnel and blood between you. The night is fitfull, full of fever. He doesn’t touch you. Even dreaming he clutches close his rage. Your skin is paper roses. It’s the end of the world. Gun of loneliness in your mouth, metallic on your tongue. Empty tank. Failure. Fuck.
The shouting has stopped. Even the echoes of shouting have stopped. Salt stains your faces white, fingerprints brush, strumming pain. Your bodies wrestle in smashed orbits, swirling sorrow, brushing against each other and goodbye. I’m done. You will never hold his head like this. Please don’t say that. You’ll have to burn me out of your sheets and comb me from your hair.
It happened over dinner. You were trying again. Work it out, push on through. Maybe this time. Go to the same place, sit at the same table, order the same bolognese from the same waiter. Talk, but be careful what you say. But you’re never careful and always careless when you drink too much and say all the wrong things or all the right things maybe but he doesn’t want to hear and your rage hurricanes across the table and you know then that he is done. You don’t admit it but you know that you have lost him, killed it. You’ve been dying together for a long time; slowly bruising fruit in the sun with the flies swarming, but you severed the head in that moment. You needed that drink. You needed everything.
And then the longest night and you lie there wishing for an earthquake. You suffocate, flailing like a fish on burning land. You break everything in your mind. Try to surrender. Sleep for a minute or an hour. Look over at him in the shadows and feel your pulse slow to a stop. Don’t be done.
In the middle of the longest night you wake up thinking about the stupid yellow chairs he ordered and you can’t bear it. You’ve never even seen them. They’ll be delivered on Saturday when you’re already gone. Some other girl will sit on them and he’ll tell her he loves her too. And he’ll mean it when he says it because he’s not a liar. The yellow chairs for the parties he’ll have without you in some blue dress he told you he likes, playing his girl. White picket fence fairytale you tried to shape yourself around. Broken plastic toys.
Don’t be done. Reach for him through the twisted sheets in the clammy morning. I won’t go to Paris. I don’t need to move in. I’ll stay in this stupid town with its perpetual fucking smile and get a dog and stop drinking and be consistent. But you’ve lost him. It doesn’t matter, you won’t do those things. And you know it’s true but you beg why not? Because they’re not you. And you know he’s right and you can only cry down there at the rocky bottom.
You hold each other in the empty space between the door and the bed and how you won’t ever forget his face when you look up. His mouth so wet you have to look away. The black rims of his glasses. His collar where it grazes the skin of his neck. He says he’s sorry and you say you are too. What else to keep him here. Grasp grapple grip. We don’t have to do this.
I do he says. And leaves.
You crumble. You melt. You burst into flames.
Out there in the world it’s sunlit and warm. People are doing people things. Some are laughing. Some are loving the way you tried to love. You are not the only broken thing right now. You are not the only one who can’t remember how to breathe. Maybe you’ll still be here when he gets home from work, a salty puddle of sorrow. His girl, liquefied.
You tell yourself these things. Out there in the world you will pick yourself up later or someday and some new thing will come. You tell yourself you will pay more attention. You will grow up. You will not trade everything for a handful of magic beans. You tell yourself you will know what you want before you ask. You will tear down all the walls. You will do better. You will be better.
But today this is all you are.
A puddle. Crumbs. Ash.