Writing fiction can take us places we had no idea we would visit,
and we either want to stay or never return.
Starting over should have been the last thing on her mind.
Time had never been her solid companion, and now she had just a few fleeting hours to make her final escape. All of her books, neatly piled on the floor, were waiting for boxes, and his album collection was sprawled out like a pile of confused tile in the corner.
She picked up his Blondie album. Sliding the disk from it’s sheath, she held it up to the light. He never saved the paper sleeves so the large majority of his LP’s were marred with deep gouges running across the grooves of the vinyl. She was amazed at how clean the album was.
She was also amazed that she still thought of them as LP’s.
Their five years together had been good. She had certainly had worse men in her life. When they met she had three cats, but slowly they were pressed out of her life and into new homes. His allergies forced her to let go of her loved ones.
She had said it was OK.
Caramel light was falling through the blinds. It made the floating dust seem like a mist in the room Looking around, she saw remnants her life, his life, and their life all cascading around shelves and tables. She was willing to leave it all behind now. The hardest thing of all to leave was going to be the kitchen. Her 5’4″ frame had finally found one that fit her well. The counters were of reasonable height, and the shelves were adjustable. She had been comfortable in this kitchen. It had become a nest of food and drink. Late night sandwiches, eaten in the dim afterglow of passion, and more than one cookie shoved in her mouth before anyone saw. Oh, and the bread. Warm and fresh-baked, the smell of it filled the whole apartment with the heady scent of yeast and salt.
It wasn’t that she hated him. She had seen a pithy saying on a sweatshirt once that proclaimed that the opposite of love wasn’t hate, the opposite of love was apathy. That’s what she felt now, true benign nothingness. She felt as if she had been wrapped up in a coil and was suddenly becoming untangled.
Stretching her back muscles, she twisted first to the left and then the right. Where had she put her work gloves? She had no time to look for them, she wanted to get the last of the books packed, and down to her car as soon as possible. She couldn’t take anymore tears. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they had been her’s, but they weren’t.
Her dream of sorting through the stack of books was evaporating like the sun. She started stuffing them in boxes, no organizing. Folding flap over flap, she closed the tops with little care and stacked them by the door.
She wandered into the kitchen for one last look. Washing her hands of the grime, she inspected under her fingernails to make sure there was nothing left of this move. She slide her right palm across the counter, brushing imaginary toast crumbs away and then reached over and turned on the light over the sink.
The light, that when left on, always meant I’ll be home late.