She woke up to the sound of his key in the door. There was no sleep to rub from her eyes, not these days. The clock beside the bed blinked green. It was 2 a.m.
She listened as he shut the door and kicked off his shoes. She would find them askew by the door in the morning, discarded by their owner. Something she knew a little about.
She followed his footsteps …on the stairs? He never came straight to bed! Not before supper! This she had learned earlier on in their marriage. Sourly, she thought about the food that sat in the microwave and regreted that it would go to waste. If only she could go and pack it in the fridge, but she couldn’t ..
Her train of thought was cut short by the opening bedroom door. She closed her eyes, even though she was turned away from him. She stiffened and pretended to be fast asleep.
She sighed with relief when she heard his muffled footsteps heading towards the bathroom, stopping only to drop his clothes on the empty floor. The closed bathroom door allowed her freedom to breath.
What had they become?!
Her hand went to her head, as if in pain, but that was not the part of her that ached. Her chest tightened in anguish and the tears she had been holding onto threatened to spill.
She quickly huddled herself into a ball just as he emerged from the washroom. He didn’t put on the light. He allowed her that courtesy.
He slipped into bed. He didn’t touch her. Not in the way that put people on the family way, but he didn’t touch her. Sometimes when she’d close her eyes, she would imagine she was alone in their bed. And their marriage .
How had they become one of those couples?!?
They never talked, apart from asking for the jam or the mashed potatoes or the day’s paper. They were both always so busy. With everything it seemed, except each other.
She couldn’t think of when it had all began. One minute they were deep in love, lost in each other’s eyes, whispering forever and a day, painting heaven and brewing passion. The next, they couldn’t even have a conversation.
Had she stepped back? Had he?
His breathing had slowed to a steady rhythm. He was asleep. She turned, careful not to wake him up. His face was calm. The green light from the clock cast over the contours of his face.
Her heart clenched as she remembered how much she loved that face. How much she still did. And knowing that hurt the most.
No, she hadn’t moved away. He had. He had stopped fighting for them. He had stopped caring. He had stopped loving her.
Her hand flew to her mouth to stop the cry of anguish that threatened to tear out.
He was leaving her. She had no doubt about it. Why? She had no clue. But she couldn’t make him love her. She had already tried.
All she could do was wait for the day his suitcases would be by the staircase. For the day he couldn’t meet her gaze. For the day he would do what he had already done a long time ago; leave.
She touched her face to find it wet. She was crying. She wiped the tears away gingerly and without anouther thought, she took his arm and wrapped it around her, her back to him. She felt him wake up and held her breath,waiting for him to pull away.
He didn’t. He tightened his hold on her and kissed her forehead. She didn’t understand, but if this was their last night together, she didn’t want to spend it trying to understand.
That night, she slept through the whole night for the first time in a long time, and in the morning, she didn’t wake up to an empty bed. Now she really didn’t understand. But when she looked into his eyes, she finally did. He hadn’t come back. He’d never left. He was just on the other side of the bed.