I’d never expected to see her again.
But six long months after she left me without so much as a goodbye I walked into my apartment after a night of drinking—a typical night, in other words—and there she was. It was like she’d never left. She sat in her customary spot at the end of the couch, feet curled under her like a cat, wispy cigarette smoke forming a fallen angel’s dirty halo over her head, open bottle of Jameson’s on the end table.
And she looked even more beautiful than she had the last time I saw her.
I stood in the doorway trying to be pissed off and failing miserably. If there’s such a thing as righteous anger, I figured the nature of her departure gave me every right to throw some around.
I couldn’t pull it off. I couldn’t pull off a goddamned thing except a jumbled-up mix of emotions I thought I’d finally begun to put to rest.
She watched me with a hint of amusement dancing in her eyes, saying nothing, letting me work through whatever I needed to work through.
“How’d you get in?” I finally managed. The hitch in my voice came through as plain as day and I hated myself for sounding so fucking pathetic.
“For that matter, how the hell did you find me?” I’d cleared out of our old place in record time after she left, unable to face the memories every night in that empty space. I found out quickly that I couldn’t handle sharing an apartment with the ghost of what we’d once had.
She raised her eyebrows and this time I thought she would answer, but I was wrong.
What difference did it make, anyway? If anyone could find me, it would be her. And as far as getting in without a key, well, the building had a live-in super and she’d always possessed the near-mystical ability to get men to do anything she wanted.
Including me. Hell, especially me.
I tried a different tack. “You back to stay? Or are you going to take off again when I least expect it?” It was as close as I could come to mustering that righteous anger, and another failure. I sounded weak, like a guy who’d had his heart torn in half one too many times.
I tossed my jacket over the back of a chair and stumbled through the living room. “I’m going to bed,” I said. “Join me if you want.”
She was still sitting there when I passed out on top of the covers.
Six long months, and seeing her brought everything rushing back like it had happened just yesterday.
I was the one who found her, lying delicately on the end of the couch, open bottle of Jameson’s on the end table next to the empty pill container. I was drunk that night, and confused, and did a ghastly triple-take before I realized she wasn’t just sleeping.
She left no note.
I’d known she was broken, but aren’t we all broken?
I’ve started coming home later and later. My routine is fully established now: work all day, drink all night, close the bar and stumble home.
Every time I come through the door I’m half afraid she’ll still be there and half afraid she won’t. I’ve come to the conclusion she’s only here temporarily, and this time when she leaves, there’s no coming back.
And that’s terrifying.
As you might imagine, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I think I know why she returned even though she still hasn’t said a word about it. She came back to get me. She didn’t abandon me six months ago; she left to pave the way for our future together.
That future begins now.
She wants me to leave with her when she goes this time.
And I think I’m ready.