The aftermath of lost love. When I don’t know what to do with my hands anymore, so I wander through what used to be our apartment, picking up and fiddling with random objects as I talk. I crack a terrible joke and it just hangs there between us, neither of us remembering how to laugh with the other. Looking down I realize I’m holding your dirty sock and then I do laugh but it is remarkably high and I choke on it. Coughing and squeaking I place it carefully in a bowl on the counter and then regret it, that was weird. I wish I knew what to say, here. My thoughts are racing. I can’t tell you things like that scar on your jaw is new or you need a haircut or I miss the way you used to hold me because that would be too intimate, it would take the conversation in a direction that I can’t control. So, instead I just tell you I need help moving the bookshelves and when you put your hand on my waist as you move past me I accidentally flinch away–so unused to being touched.
“Are you going to take these?” You ask me, holding up one of my cow figurines.
“No, no, no. I’ll get those another time.”
We both know I’m running out of things to come back for and you are running out of new ways of asking me to stay. We are quiet for the rest of my visit and the silence is surprisingly comfortable. I feel better when I don’t have to think up new things to say before you finish a sentence. I don’t like trying to fill up the room with my own mundane chatter. When I find two copies of the same book you ask to keep one of them. I agree and start to write an inscription in the front but only get as far as “Dear L-” and put the pen down, by now, it’s all been said.
Depositing the last shelf and then the last bag of books on the ground outside my parent’s house, you look at me almost sadly.
“Ok… well, see ya later, then.” I spew out awkwardly and turn to unlock the door.
“Is that it?” You ask and I can trace the hurt in your voice without looking at the dots. I face you and contemplate getting roped into another uncomfortably long hug; a high-five wouldn’t quite fit here, unfortunately; a handshake too detached. I run out of physical options so I just hold your gaze for awhile and hope my eyes do the work for me. They seem to, because you stop searching after a few moments, nod, and start walking backwards for home. I suddenly feel like running after you, kissing you, reassuring you that, yes I had gone temporarily insane after all, and then riding off together into the sunset. But, it’s already dark, there is no white horse, and more than anything, more than this fleeting desire, I just feel empty inside. So I tear my eyes away from your disappearing back and fit my key into the door.
“Where were you?” My mother asks me as I walk in, craning her head to look behind me, expecting someone else, apparently.
“Just tying up loose ends.” I say, handing her a bag and turning back for more.