This was the end of things. Just as the balmy sea shoots forward over the dry sand, giving it moisture and warmth, making the grains form together into one mass, the sea must one day be absorbed back into the ocean, leaving the grains as cold and separate as they were before.
Marshall stared at the harvest moon as he trudged to his ex-girlfriend’s dorm. There was a certain detached beauty in its cold light…it made everything stand raw. He could see every blade of grass, every brick in the dorm he was approaching. This was the worst part of breakups—the exchange of possessions, the giving back of what had become mutually kept.
You left your lacy red bra in my room three months ago…you looked so good in it that one night…
But you couldn’t focus on those sorts of things. It had to be an emotionless exchange, this vomiting up and rejection of what was once lovingly shared.
This is yours, this is mine, you can have this back, I really don’t want it…
…and you had to except everything that was given back, you had to avoid leaving memories behind, because that is what the exchange was really about.
I don’t want to have anything to remember you by.
It wasn’t like losing a friend. That was a gradual decision made by both. This thing—it wasn’t even a break-up. For the first time, the word ‘dumped’ ran through Marshall’s brain. Pollyanna had been disengaging herself from Marshall for a few weeks now, drawing her aura away, rolling it back into herself like a great parchment. She still hadn’t given him a reason, just something about
We just don’t work anymore
…after two years.
They had gone shopping once at the local mall and passed a bridal store. He never cared what he expressed around her—he flowed free, no filter— and he had said how beautiful she would look in the white lace. He wasn’t kidding either. He had never lied to her.
He wondered now, after the fact, if she had shown him the same honesty. He thought back to each time he had professed his love for her. He was always the one that initiated it, he now realized, and there was always a slight hesitation before she responded, a swimming behind the eyes.
It was different the last time he said he loved her. He had noticed her starting to pull away, and yawped the words from deep inside his soul, a desperate tugging at the connections that were straining and snapping like rubber ropes. She had turned away, irritated.
You say that too much
He should have seen it as a signal, but Marshall had stupidly put it down as some minor problem she was having with him. In the back of his mind, worries rotated frantically, but he set them behind a concrete wall that
She loves you.
…had built. But maybe that was all shit.
His backpack was heavy with her possessions: a book she had lent him…a pair of socks she had accidentally left at his house…her external hard-drive…the red lace bra. She had much more stuff to give to him. He was naturally forgetful, and his things had slowly filled her room. She had laughed once, saying
It’s like you’re leaving excuses for coming back.
He wasn’t sure if he was doing it or not…subconsciously, of course…for that reason. Maybe he had been.
A couple of weeks ago, she had said
You’ve got to stop leaving your stuff here. There’s practically no room for my shit. Take some of it home.
Another missed signal, an obvious one. His head was in the sand, stuck there with star-eyed devotion and the warmth he felt from being engulfed by love’s warm waters.
The October night chilled him as he neared the dorm. They had started seeing each other two Aprils ago, and the temperature and sunlight waxed with their ebullience for each other. The best times he remembered were from that first summer, going on hikes and making love on mountain-tops.
He didn’t want to use that word anymore
I want to make lov…
He should do what his friends said: detach himself from her as she obviously had detached herself from him. He should say ‘hooking up,’ or ‘fucking.’ Maybe that’s all she thought it ever was.
He stood at the door now, the solid, grey metal no longer inviting him up, but standing as a foreign barrier. They were broken up now, two exes. He would have to dial her number for entry as if he was a stranger.
He saw his moon-lit reflection on the glass of the door. He was single now, in the strictest sense of the word—no longer part of a living, loving couple. Maybe it would be better if he thought of them as never being beautiful. Maybe they never were.
One thought on “Final Exchange”
People change. Break ups are the ending of the old life and the beginning of a new one. Thanks for sharin! 🙂