The Last Time

He didn’t know it would be the last time she would walk in after work, so as usual he just wanted to know what was for supper. It didn’t cross his mind, as he stared at the TV, barely answering her questions about his day, that it would be the last time she would be there for him to ignore.

He would no longer have to remember her birthday, or hold her when she was sad, or do something special for her once or twice a year… he never had before anyway, and there would be no more chances.

It would be the last time she stood there, shaking, trying to create something that would never exist, the last time he could put his war face on and turn his back on her in disgust and arrogance.  When he answered his phone and spoke to a friend, it was the last time he’d hurt her by giving them the kindness that would disappear at call’s end.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” ~ Anais Nin

Sometimes we don’t get one more chance.

When she put his plate in front of him for dinner, his eyes never leaving the TV, he had no idea he would soon lose his cook, errand-runner, caretaker, and captive audience for his fits of anger. The making love, or the holding, or the morning smiles that had faded away years ago…no more chance to breathe life into any of those.

He went into the garage and she stood quietly in the doorway, looking at all his toys and treasures that came before things that were needed, and he was clueless to the damage he’d done over the years. He couldn’t fathom a world where he would have to care for himself, do for himself. A world that had gone gray for her a long time ago. Drained of color, life, hope.

Tiny slices each time, little by little, until the draining of her  heart flowed like a relentless stream.

He came back in with his beer and sat back down, flipping through the channels, so she went into the other room to breathe in the silence of invisibility.

It was easier to take her insignificance to him, if she didn’t have to see it. It was easier to pretend that her life didn’t have the results of all her failed attempts to reach him suffocating her. She despised herself for all the times she should have left, and didn’t.

He gave a careless glance as she bent down to pick up his plate, and their eyes met for the first time that evening. His brows drew together in a look of irritation, and she slowly smiled at him for the last time. He didn’t know that…

But she did.

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