I’m thinking about leaving you.
I wouldn’t say anything. No fights or harsh words. I’ll cheerfully kiss you off to work tomorrow, pack my things and be gone before you get home.
You will lament to friends, family, the next woman, the current other woman that I was always going, that you don’t know why I left, that I just abandoned you and took your heart with me.
You will protect the reasons for my disappearance. You will keep your secrets. You will pretend ignorance and take no credit for your hurt.
You will keep lying.
But not to me.
Give me a love that is quiet and calm. That finds passion in the smallest moments, in the pauses between breaths. That believes in wishes and planning, that cools and changes, that finds itself again. That doesn’t thrive on hurt, but weathers the pain when it comes.
Give me a love that chooses to thrive, chooses to grow, chooses again. Water that love and make it greener, slowly, with purpose.
“Are you listening to me?”
He closes his eyes for a moment, steadies himself. Looks up from his hands to her questioning gaze. Smiles, with hope. Readies himself to fight.
She tries to cry freedom as if it would make it so.
She would never wrap around him in the night again. She would never slide out from under an elbow hooked around her in sleep, or feel him snuggle into her neck, face rough with morning, the tickle making her feel special, warm, loved. She would never crinkle her eyes just that way, lament his humor, hear him whisper “you’re pretty” to end a conversation.
She would never shoot Nerf darts decorated with hearts or wish on another shooting star.
She nods, swipes before the tear breaks her lashes.
He sits alone on his lunch, parked next to a beautiful green he won’t visit.
Once he would have dined with friends, lovers. Now these stolen moments are the best – and worst – of his day.
He catches a glimpse of his silvering hair in the mirror and doesn’t recognize himself.
Turning the key, he looks up from the console to briefly ponder the barren winter trees creaking proudly, eternally, in the frosty sunshine. The first sigh is an experiment. The second, a wish. The engine coughs. He pulls onto the road.
There is a little more loneliness in the world.
Betty lived a big life in a big city filled with big things. She always felt so small in that big white house, with five bedrooms and four bathrooms, three sparkling windows that overlooked the eastern neighbors, two bratty but beguiling children and one boisterous husband. All that space was filled with the presence of love, and while she felt small, she felt safe.
Until the accident.
Now she lives in a tiny house by her tiny self. She prefers it that way. “If there’s no space to fill up, there’s no empty, hollow place where my loved ones belong.”