Fourteen Years Later
“Oh God, noooo,” I moaned as the stack of papers started to slip out of the manila folder and onto the elevator floor. With two hands full of school work, laptops, and a to-go cup, all I could do was watch as they fell haphazardly onto the probably sticky floor. The only other passenger, the cute blond from the third floor looked behind his shoulder and down at the papers, just as the elevator pinged. He gave a grimace that almost said ‘what can I do', before stepping out and turning to the right. What. A. Dick.
Blowing my fringe off my face, a long, much-needed sigh escaped my lips. Holy mother, what a day. Between my difficult committee member asking for more evidence for my dissertation, and my sophomore class being the biggest load of assholes I have ever taught, this day was definitely up there for worst of the year. The only luck I had today was that it was nice weather for November in Seattle. I hadn’t needed an umbrella, and I was not freezing, so that was something. The walk to campus had been nice this morning. Ummmm, what else? I was scrambling for some silver linings here, I had to.
The elevator sounded again for my floor and I jammed my foot into the door to stop it from closing. Placing my things on the floor outside and then scrambling to pick up my freshmen’s mid-terms, I found that, yes, the floor was definitely sticky.
Juggling the worst day of the term in my arms, I walked to my door and tried the handle, hoping. It turned and I used my foot to push it open.
“Goddammit, Chad,” I muttered. It had served me today, but would my boyfriend ever get it through his beautiful head that you should lock your door when you live in a pretty crappy area of Seattle?
Slowly, I placed my things on the entryway table and slipped off my shoes. I was confused..., the foyer looked... clean and I called out.
“Babe, did you tidy up? We should definitely have sex right now.” I added a laugh to show that I was somewhat joking, but not really if it went that way. My libido was always up for my boyfriend. I listened for a response as I took off my jacket and hung it up. Nothing. The dishwasher was definitely running in the kitchen. I glanced at my watch, 6 pm, he would have finished his classes about 4, and he always beat me home unless it was for Friday night drinks with his med-school friends.
Walking to the living room of my one-bedroom apartment, I called once more.
“In here, Kelly,” came his voice.
I rounded the hallway to see him sitting there on my crappy, but still comfortable, fake leather couch. Holy, I looked around. The apartment was nearly spotless. Chad never cleaned. It wasn’t that he was dirty, but it was always my job to wipe the counters down and clean up at the end of the day.
“Baby, let’s open the wine because you are most seriously getting it tonight. I. Am. Turned. On.” I emphasized with clarity and wiggled my eyebrows as I looked around.
I went over to the couch and leaned in to kiss him. He grabbed my hands to stop me.
That’s when I really looked at him. He had slightly red-rimmed eyes and a look and aura of sadness. I was pretty sure I knew that face. My features contorted to mirror his.
“Oh god, who died? Is your mom okay, or is it Lisa? I’m sorry, god, my phone died around fourth period.”
He started to shake his head.
“No, Kel, everyone is fine, it’s not that.”
I nodded, though my heart had already started its race out of the gate,
“Okay, okay, good, okay. Babe, what is going on?”
He tilted his head at me and gaped, his mouth like a fish sucking air. Looking down at his feet, he inhaled a long breath, like he was holding back a sob. Ear-length hair fell over his face and was hidden from me. I looked up and around at the apartment. His laptop and textbooks were gone from the small desk, his shoes and scarves were no longer on the hallway coat rack, his dirty laundry wasn’t in the hamper.
He hadn’t cleaned at all, his stuff just wasn’t here.
I looked back at him, still staring at his shoes.
“Babe, where are your things?” Tears started to well in my eyes and my heart was now well into its marathon sprint. He looked back up to my eyes, mouth still gaping. Fuck. He was leaving me. He couldn’t even get the words out.
“Kel, it’s not working.”
A sporadic sob I couldn’t control escaped, I shook my head in disbelief, trying to shake the traitorous tears from forming.
“What? What do you mean? I... I don’t understand... you, we, are happy.” Oh god, my heart was on full gallop now, it wanted out its cavity in my chest. I had to place my hands over it to stop it from bleeding out. Jesus, my heart hurt and my hands were doing nothing to help the pain. Tears pooled up in my eyes and ran freely down my cheeks. From outside the window, I vaguely heard the dependable Seattle rain start to ping onto the glass. He shook his head.
“I haven’t been happy for a while, I think you know.”
“I... we... you never said anything, how can I know if you never said anything?” We told each other ‘I love you’ every day, we had great sex every night, we lived in relative peace in my tiny, crappy apartment while we both went to grad school in the day. How did any of that say ‘unhappy’?
“I just... this doesn’t make sense,” I garbled out between the sobs racking my chest. I looked over to him, still sitting on the couch, his hands wrapped around each other. He looked torn. Oh god, he isn’t sure, maybe I could salvage this. I wanted this, Chad felt like home. I didn’t want to lose my sense of home. I had lost too much already.
“Chad, I just... I think you are making a mistake. I love you and I... I feel like we are ‘right’. I just...,” I shook my head a final time, the sobs letting up some “this doesn’t make sense to me.”
He stood up beside me “I know, and I’m sorry, it was a wonderful two years, but I just don’t ‘feel’ it anymore, I guess.”
From my head in my hands, I looked up at him. God knows what I looked like, my shoulder-length auburn hair probably half pulled out by now, a splotchy face and crazy eyes, he looked down at me. His own green eyes had their puppy dog lilt to them and it was clear he was already in mourning. There was no saving this. He had already done this in his mind. Our relationship had ended sometime earlier today and I wasn’t even here for it. I was teaching a bunch of jerks when my house crumbled.
“Well, I think I should go,” he stuttered.
I jumped up, “No! Wait, listen, it’s late, you can sleep on the couch and move your stuff tomorrow.” I motioned outside to the now pounding rain “It started to rain.” I paused. I didn’t actually see any boxes of his things near the door or outside. Where was his stuff? He was still looking down at his feet.
“No, Kel, it's okay, thanks anyway, but I think it's just best if I get going.”
“Where are your things, Chad?”
He finally looked up and into my eyes, “I moved them to a friend’s house, they helped me earlier this afternoon. I am going to stay with them for a few days.”
I sharply noticed his lack of gender pronouns. My heart took up its race again.
“Is... is there someone else?”
His face gave a flash of guilt before turning angry. Oh god, there was someone else.
“No, I am not having an affair. Now, I am going to go, I left my key in the bedroom, and I’ll call you in a few days, okay?”
My sobs started up again as he turned his back on us and walked out towards the foyer, the door closing with finality. Placing my hands over my heart again, I pulled my shoulders down and together, trying to ease the pain in my chest. Sinking to the rug on my floor, I curled over and let the crying control my body.
Oh God, that just happened. Chad, the man I loved for two years, the student I supported with my TA position and research job while he went to med school, my best friend who I could always gossip with, the man who I had fulfilling sex with, just left me for another woman. I was blindsided by this but now I was nearly blind with tears.
I wailed out my pain into the floor and above me I vaguely heard the buzz of a strong electrical current in the ceiling light, the room brightening fractionally. I ignored it, and let my body do whatever the hell it wanted.
Another woman. Chad was certainly attractive and would often get looks with those high cheekbones and surfer blonde hair. It was always his brain that had done it for me though. Was it his microbiology partner that he would go out with for Friday night drinks? God, she was stunning. Dark, petite, and soon to be a Medical doctor. I was tall, athletic, Irish complexion and would soon be a doctor...of plants. There was no way I could compete with that.
Another long wail came out of my lips and the buzzing above me escalated until I heard a sharp clang of glass breaking and falling onto my back, shocking me out of my sobs. The living room was now coated in darkness. The rain outside was pounding the windows and the wind drove them into waves against the glass. I laid there in the dark, listening to the tempest outside while feeling my heart calm down. Its race was over and it certainly lost the last round.
After a minute in the fetal position, my breathing had become normal. I wiped my face into the rug and pushed myself to a sitting position. I looked up. A faint night light from the kitchen illuminated enough to show that the light bulb in the ceiling light had exploded, its glass had fallen on top of me and into the rug. I gave a final wipe to the remnants of my tears before letting out an annoyed sigh.
Fuck, I hated being a witch.