he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye
He’d been absorbed in his guitar before she’d come over and introduced herself. He was still strumming along, chords and notes as easy and natural as breathing at this stage. However, unlike before, the music didn’t have his complete attention. Because, unlike before, he knew she was gone and he was left feeling slightly unsettled and more than a little eager to see her again. She’d been, well, she’d been different.
She’d marched up to him confidently and when she’d started singing with him, harmonizing with him as though this was what had been fated for them for all time, he’d been almost surprised when other people around them had been able to continue chatting away merrily with each other like nothing had happened.
Because everything had changed. He knew her name, how her small hand felt cradled in his, the way she looked when she was happy. He regretted not making her smile even more when they had shared in their mutual delight of song. He regretted not having a chance to say goodbye.
go your own way (and she did)
He rolled his eyes as she slammed the door shut dramatically. It would be almost amusing if he didn’t feel that familiar involuntary chill that ran through him. Would this be it this time? She always said it was over and then came back and maybe she’d manage to leave for good this time. He chuckled to himself and lay face down on the couch, burying his head in the large cream cushion (hers) with a groan. He wondered if he’d ever had the balls to call her bluff. Because she could leave him about as easily as he could leave her. That is, not at all. I mean, yes, they could separate and had done so before, had even slept with other people (which he refused to think about because she was his, dammit) but eventually she’d come back to him.
The absences of her from his bed had been getting longer, though, and the way she looked at him was almost always a mixture of disappointment, anger and fear. She’d tried telling him she wanted him to back off, to stop being jealous, but he’d swallowed her words with a kiss and wrapped his arms tight around her. Like that was meant to make her stay. He knew it couldn’t.
But he’d keep trying. She’d said goodbye before, after all. This time he’d merely gotten the words out first. He hoped she didn’t believe him.
and now i say goodbye to you
He picked the phone up without thinking and the moment he heard her he knew it had been a mistake to do so. Once upon a time, hearing her voice over the line had been a source of comfort, of joy. They’d shared everything together, laughed, talked, even cried. Now she sounded like a wreck. And not an unrecognizable one.
They’d said too much yesterday. She’d screamed at him and he’d shouted at her, truths and lies and accusations flying through the heavy air, aiming to hurt. Fatal to their relationship, really, or whatever remained of a relationship. Because, for him, all that remained these days were recriminations, pain and bitterness. Occasionally, she’d smile at him and maybe he could remind himself of what had been, what could be and then he’d look her in the eyes and see the blankness there and he’d hate what they’d become.
She begged him, told him to please come back, not to leave her all alone. He bit back any desire to hold her and heal her and save her. He told her that this was it, he couldn’t do it anymore. He could hear her wretched sobs through the phone and he needed to hang up before he gave it. Angrily, she spat out that he’d never be able to say goodbye to her, never be rid of her. He was determined to try. He hung up as she screamed.
farewell to the wishes that died
He was thankful she hadn’t changed hotels in this particular city because he needed to see her. Now. Kristen had left an hour ago and maybe he could do the right thing for once. When he’d agreed with his wife that it all had to stop, that this was ruining everything and for everyone (it hurts her too, Kristen had pointed out), it had felt like a huge burden had been lifted from him. It felt like he was finding some kind of freedom. It also felt like if he didn’t make his decision clear to his sometime lover right away, he never would.
She was sitting up in bed when he opened her door (they always had a spare key these days, just in case) and much of his resolution seemed to seep right out of his body and onto the floor. God, he missed seeing her just before she went to bed, natural beauty and all just for him. It was clear she knew something had happened and the concern in her eyes was almost too much. She wasn’t allowed to be worried right now FOR him because what he was about to do was going to change things irrevocably. And he wasn’t sure that it was for the better. This was going to hurt her. And him.
We can’t do this anymore. This is going to hurt the children in the long run. Kristen said she’s prepared to leave with them. I feel torn. Maybe this is for the better. Space and time might do some healing. I’ll still love you. I’ll still want you. I’m just not going to let myself give in anymore. I’m sorry.
The words spilled out as he stood at the foot of the bed, watching as her face turned ashen, as hope left her eyes, as she grew more and more tense. When the spiel ended she nodded slowly and held her arms out for him. He left before sunrise.
he refuses to say goodbye
Christopher sat next to him on one side, trying to be stoic, but he could see the shaking in the younger man’s hands as he fiddled with the hem of his black shirt. To his left, Lori’s head was on his shoulder, a warm weight that he barely felt through the chills that ran through him as the service started. He knew he wasn’t anything close to stoic or strong or brave, no matter what people had said to him so far today. He’d been enveloped in long hugs from her cousins and nieces and nephews and what seemed like a few dozen godchildren and not one of them had brought any real comfort. He hadn’t found any relief at all so far, though, and hadn’t expected it on today of all todays. It didn’t feel like anything close to three days and nights had passed and yet it seemed an eternity of alternating between weeping and feeling completely numb.
Death was inevitable, he’d known that. He’d just always thought that he’d go first, that at least he’d be spared this. He hadn’t been spared though. He had watched the damn life leaving her body, had felt her hand go limp in his, had heard the doctor tell him it was over. And it really was.
Turning his head as a prayer started (that wasn’t going to achieve much now - God had forsaken them long ago), he spotted his children in the row behind him, sitting somberly next to Cory. Heads bowed, they looked so mature and grown-up. But he’d held Leelee for a long time last night, crying with her, had slept next to her. She’d been his little girl again in that moment, his baby girl. He’d felt like a child too since she had gone and left him, with absolutely no control over his emotions and body.
When they’d told him he could say goodbye, he had actually screamed at the doctor, told him no. He couldn’t say goodbye. He’d promised he never would again. He’d vowed.