by C.M. Moorhead
“I wish you wouldn’t look at me like that.”
It was so like him to wait patiently while I cycled through what he considered to be my irrational ramblings.
Nothing. Pupils pinpointed and fixed on the dresser behind me.
I pack my bag to the point of bursting seams, satisfied I’ve used every morsel of space. Not in the haphazard way in which you’re accustomed to seeing a disgruntled wife leaving her husband in a Lifetime-made-for-television-movie: comically scattered where the visible contents are a scuba mask coupled with spitefully with his favorite jersey.
No that type of packing. The paradox existed in how organized my bag was in comparison to the disarray of the bedroom. The neater I folded the more meticulous the control I had over the contents. Once the corners were at perfect 90 degree angles I would roll the entire garment into a tight cylinder shape thus maximizing how much I could take with me.
Clichéd broken glass scattered and nestled in where the wall met the floor.
Upended drawers spewing out unseasonal clothing as if they were allergic to the fabric.
Luggage pieces varying in size hopefully awaiting their possible promotion of being filled.
He sat amongst the debris. Wordless. Motionless. Slumped against the foot of the bed in defeat. He remained a calm oasis floating in the dessert of destroyed property—each piece a memory forever overshadowed by how they were used on their last day of use. I doubt the antique silver vase my grandmother passed down to me which had been passed down to her by her grandmother knew it would no longer be associated with holding flowers.
This was also his last day of use. I would walk out our door confident in the knowledge I would never again speak to him. I’d said all of my words, and largely ignored the fact I would never have the answer as to whether or not he heard them.
He wasn’t using his words. Even if he could, he wouldn’t, instead opting to place himself above the conversation.
I don’t remember if it was he or I who began the assumption we knew what the other was thinking. If this were ever true it was long ago and as far away as his silent eyes were now.
No flinch. No flicker. No resemblance of the man I once knew.
“I don’t know why I’m still packing.”
I don’t know why I’m still voicing my thoughts out loud. No one is listening even if he is sitting within reach. I lift my arm towards him as if to test my theory: halfway, almost offering a compromise. The gesture is met with stillness and vacancy.
“Why am I still trying?”
What does it say about me even now I expect more from him?
All he can give me is all he has left. Nothing.
His hand and forearm rested on the ground next to him facing upward, as if he too had almost considered reaching for me. Without warning he had reconsidered and suddenly let it drop with a thud—serving as the ending note to our dance. His normally tan skin now pallid and stiff—forever caught in indecision.
I look from him to the three pieces of luggage I’ve now filled and organized. A wasted effort I knew as I was would only be taking the one. Less to carry.
This time I knew better than to expect a response. I put the baggage in single file with the pain and walked out. Closing and locking all the doors behind me.