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  • B. Nintzel

Morning lies in wait (A short story)

“What are you doing here?”

They both stood in the doorway, he on one side, she on the other. The air stale, yet, a seething palpability that connected their energies like a spiderweb you accidently stumble into-- sticky, surprising, and the feeling that something tangible is lingering.

“Can I come in?” Filled with sorrow, his eyes pleaded with her to allow him to enter.

In a single moment she considered what to do--

Step aside to allow the man that crushed her heart like it was a flimsy piece of glass, inside, or slam the door in his face.

She chose the former.

Her loft was open. Sheer, grey curtains covered large bay windows overlooking the cityscape. Wood floors, not yet varnished, gave it a rustic appeal. A vaulted ceiling that allowed coolness to enter and heat to stay, whether invited or not.

Entering, he gazed around at everything she already changed; Photos of them stripped from existence, mementos gone. The place had no inkling of the love that once was shared there.

She filled his lungs as he breathed in the jasmine that permeated the room. Everything so familiar, yet out of his grasp.

“What do you want?” she whispered as she watched him scan her place like he was soaking in every inch of her. Lit candles, scattered around the loft, illuminated the parts of her she wished she could hide from him. She felt overly exposed in a place and time where she never thought he would be again.

He moved towards her bed, his fingers softly brushing over items personal to her-- a knick knack from her Grandmother, her favorite sweater hanging over a chair, the quilt placed haphazardly at the end of her bed. He straightened it.

“What are you doing here?” she said again, louder this time, immovable in the spot where her feet had not betrayed her to stay.

Sitting on her bed was the ultimate betrayal, and yet, he couldn’t stop himself. This was the place where he fell in love with her; Where she would turn to him and groggily smile her perfect smile; Where everything was always okay.

But it wasn’t.

Nothing had been the same after he left her for someone else, and he couldn’t have been more wrong in his choice.

Sitting on her bed, he shook his head in grief and disbelief over his mistake. How could he have been so blind, so stupid to think his relationship with her had grown stale? How could he leave this beautiful creature for someone who was a flash in the pan?

Pain flashed across his face like a shooting star, though, she felt no magic when she saw it.

Torn. She loved him still, and unabashedly so, but how was she to reconcile the past with her present.

He left her seven months ago for a women he worked with briefly. As tears soaked her face, all those months ago, he explained to her that he was leaving-- that he felt their love had gone dry, the joy he felt departed long before he ever used his voice to speak it. How was she to know? She couldn’t read his mind and even when she tried, it was always a futile effort.

She shook her head to clear her thoughts, as if the shaking back to “now” would somehow erase the days and nights of torturous tears and despair she had endured; But like an etch-a-sketch that was broken from overuse, the residue of his actions that tore apart her life would always be present in the forefront of her mind when she looked upon him.

He peered up at her and she finally met his eyes. Both sets filled with tears that could drown the biggest city, and yet, not one of them could release the pools that formed. He needed to stay strong for her, and she, well, she never wanted him to see her pain, or any part of her vulnerability, again. That was sacred.

“Why are you here?” her voice trembled as she fought her own instincts to cry out to the heavens.

The question hung in the air, almost tangible in the dust that floated around the room. The silence broke.

“Because I was wrong,” his feet filled with lead as he attempted to stand and face her. “There was something in me that was so sad. So, broken.” He paused.

Her heart flew into her chest at such a speed that she was caught entirely off guard. She faltered in her stance and he found the flight in his feet to catch her. He brought her to her bed and laid her down.

She was numb and yet so full of emotion; The pain she had gone through, still went through, became as visceral as a knife to her throat. She curled up into a ball as tears fell silently to her pillows.

He walked to the other side of her bed, removed his shoes, and curled up around her, like a “C”, embracing her every curve.

Neither away, nor towards, she didn’t move.

“It was me, not you, not us, that needed to be fixed. Me. I can never take away the pain I caused you, but I can try to make it better every day from here on out,” he whispered in her ear.

She stared at the small crack across the room. She fixated her crestfallen eyes on the spider web-like way it expanded across the wall. It was bigger now than it was seven months ago, much like the distance between her soul and his. She stared at the crack in the hopes that if she said nothing, he would leave, but also so that if she said nothing, maybe they would drift to sleep like this, like they had in their past, when love crossed their souls like a bridge leading to water and both of them parched.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, “I’ve never stopped loving you. It’s always been you and it always will be you. Please, let me show you, and I promise you I will make you happy forever.” He nuzzled his nose into her hair and wrapped his arms around her tighter as she sobbed. He knew they would be together forever, now. His betrayal of their love behind them, but still ahead of them, as he knew it would be a long road to recover the full, unabashed love he had from her before. He entwined his fingers with hers, “I love you.”

She sobbed not because she was happy. She sobbed because she knew she would never be able to love him like she had before; Her heart felt more barren than the deepest thirst she had ever known. She was still in love with him, but she knew she had lost all trust in him, and without trust, she could never feel the joy of being in love with, and being loved by, him ever again.

He held her in hopes, and she laid there in despair until the sun rose in the morning with the greyness of the storm that laid in wait.

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