“Do you want me to go?”
“No,” he said. “That would hurt too much.”
“Then,” I hesitated unintentionally, “you want me to stay?”
“No, that would hurt you too much.”
I stared for a long moment at my plate, stabbing my sausage repeatedly with the fork. It was still dark, but the glow from the streetlights poured into the bared window from the alley. The earliest birds chirped ferociously in the yard, nipping periodically at the sweetness hanging from the apple tree.
“I wish you would make a decision,” I half whispered, trying to choke down the anger and stifle the tears.
“It’s not really my decision to make,” he countered. “You know where I stand.”
I hated when he stated the obvious so matter-of-factly like that. It made me feel stupid and weak. I looked up from the plate to find his eyes staring intently at me. Hot shame burned my stomach, and I quickly rose from the table.
“Are you leaving?” he questioned.
“I think so.”
“For how long?”
“I’m not sure. I have a lot to consider.” I turned away from him and headed toward the door. My purse, resting on the couch, felt like a weight when I picked it up.
“You will call won’t you?” came from the kitchen.
I rolled my eyes and sighed. Somehow the fact that he didn’t walk me to the door or even rise from the table insulted me.
“I don’t know.” I grabbed the knob and pulled too hard, causing the door to crash into the wall.
“Everything okay?” again, from the kitchen.
“Yeah,” I said, exiting firmly onto the porch and slamming the door. A gentle mist hung on the air, and I paused, basking in the moisture. The incessant chirping from behind the house aggravated my calm, so I headed slowly down the steps onto the sidewalk. I looked back, hoping to see him in the window looking longingly at my departing frame, but he wasn’t. And that strengthened my resolve.
I marched more confidently than ever toward my car. This is really it. I can stay away.
I unlocked the door and looked around for safety. She was standing across the street in the mist looking at me. I knew that she knew what she didn’t want to know. And I knew that it was really over. I got into the car and inserted the key. I cried as I drove away from what was hers.