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Runcible Spoon

heart logo Privacy Notice Traci Mullins

Final Encounter

 

You’ve postponed leaving for as long as you dare. He’ll be coming soon to pick up the rest of his things, and you don’t want to cross paths.

 

The overstuffed sofa where you used to snuggle and binge watch “Breaking Bad” is gone. You had it moved yesterday. You don’t want anything else besides your cherry desk, the watercolors your grandmother painted, and your books. If he wants the bed, he can take it. He can have everything you’re leaving behind.

 

A single floor lamp illuminates the empty living room, which is strewn with dust bunnies, stray popcorn kernels, and a half-chewed rawhide that belonged to the dog you had to put down three years ago. The old piano, always covered with sheet music, tooth-pocked pencils, and his half-finished Red Bull cans is bare. He will take the piano, putting an end to the music you made together when you sang to his jazzy tunes and angsty old torch songs.

 

In your study, the echoes of imagined worlds throb and haunt. How many hours have you spent in this room’s cozy embrace, spinning characters and scenes, sorrow and suspense? He respected your work, but sometimes he couldn’t resist coming in to nibble your neck. His seductions were often successful.

 

As you move from room to room, other memories torment you with their bittersweetness: the time you found this perfect house together, a for-sale sign out front. You sneaked around the back to peer through the windows, stifling laughter in case someone was home. You cooked together on summer evenings, carried your mother’s gooey lasagna out to the deck where you ate and talked into the night as you watched the stars awaken. You try not to think of Sunday mornings when he brought you coffee in bed, warm blueberry scones from the bakery on the corner.

 

But it’s easy to sugarcoat reality, isn’t it? Far easier on the heart to tune into sweet echoes than to taste the bitter reason you’re leaving.

 

“You’re too heartbreaking,” he’d said. “I have to save myself.”

 

So you spare him a final encounter. You gather the last boxes of books and stack them by the door. You sit down on the stairs and wail, your cries bouncing off the walls of what you’ve destroyed.

 

You ask yourself, Was your last drunk worth it?