A one shot. Written for my creative writing class. Eh...Enjoy. This should hold you over until the next help of Situation Hopeless (Keep your eyes peeled this Friday kids)
"I can't. I'm sorry." His words were just above a whisper as he turned his head breaking their kiss.
"I know." She said pulling away from his grasp. Always the same ending, never a new beginning.
His eyes shot to the ground guilty. Ashamed that he'd hurt her again. It had become an unnecessary evil, something they could avoid but didn't. Surveying the room for the rest of his clothes, he found his shirt near the door. He let his hand linger on the knob as he cast one last apologetic glance in her direction before retreating.
She sighed loudly out of frustration. Who the hell did he think he was? Building her up only to break her down. It was routine. It was sad and pathetic. But tomorrow they'd still be friends. Pretend it was all alright. She was becoming a better actress by the minute.
"Damn it." She swore aloud moving around the room gathering the
remnants of her own clothing. Down the hall she padded, her bare feet making a dull slap against the hardwood floors. The shallow echo served only to remind her that she was once again alone in the house. This too was part of their routine.
She pulled back the thick green plastic curtain on the shower. She wasn't naive enough to believe it would wash away the pain. But the hot water and chamomile soap seemed to dull the throbbing at least a little bit.
She wanted to scream, but what was the use when no one could hear her. She wanted to hit him, but that would only make things worse. She wished to God that she could hate him, even just a little. She couldn't though, he was part of her.
She stepped out of the tub into the steam filled bathroom and wrapped a towel around her body. He'd be back soon, to apologize again. And she would let him, again. The worst habits are hardest to break. He was by far her worst. He served as proof that they were both capable of the most terrible things.
She checked the clock in the hallway on her way down stairs. It wouldn't be long now until he made his appearance and begged for forgiveness like it was actually needed. The doorbell sounded almost on cue as she rounded the corner to foyer. No need to look through the peephole, she knew he was there. Standing on her front steps shivering in the stiff winds of an unfriendly Chicago winter night.
She opened the door and observed him. In all the time he'd been showing up on her door step like this he still waited patiently for her to invite him in. "Come on. You'll catch your death, and I won't be held responsible for that." She said stepping aside.
"Thanks." He said walking past her into the living room where he deposited his coat and scarf on the ottoman before seating himself in the recliner.
"How do you do it Patrick?" She asked, taking a seat on the couch across from him.
"Do what?" He replied innocently, hoping that evading her question would make her forget what she'd asked. But his hopes were false and he was well aware.
She shook her head, "Don't play dumb. You never were a very good actor, and you make an even worse liar."
"I'm sorry." His eyes were glued the carpet as the words escaped his lips. He knew better than to use them, but he felt nothing else would fit.
"Don't. Just don't. Please?" Her head fell into her hands. "It's not enough anymore."
"But I," His words fell short; "I don't know what else to do Maggie."
"That's the problem though, isn't it? That there is nothing else to say." Her voice shook as she brought herself to her feet.
"What are you saying?" He asked standing as well. Ready to follow when she ran, like he knew she would.
"I'm saying." She paused exhaling deeply, "I'm saying that it ends now. This, this us. It has to stop."
"Why?" Her back was too him now, and he placed a hand on her shoulder.
"WHY? Why? You wanna know why?" Her voice grew louder steadily with each word. "Because I'm tired Patrick. I'm tired of this. Tired of being hurt. Of never being enough." The end caught in her throat and she didn't dare turn to face him, she couldn't face him. Not now. She shrugged his warm hand off her bare shoulder and made her way to the stairs. "You know the way out."
Her voice was colder than he'd ever remembered hearing before. He watched her disappear into the dark hallway toward her bedroom. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. He wasn't supposed to be left standing in her hallway with an ache in his stomach. He was supposed to have said, "I'm sorry." been forgiven and gone home. Repeat tomorrow and forever. But it felt now, like forever had just been snatched right out from under his feet.
Upstairs she sat on his side of her bed, head in her hands with tears streaking down her cheeks. She was proud of herself for holding them in, at least until he couldn't see them. She had to be strong about this. She couldn't falter. She wouldn't give in. She couldn't go through another apology.
The morning sun broke through the shades of her bedroom window. She squinted her eyes at the clock on her bedside table. Seven a.m. She didn't remember falling asleep, but the events of the night before replayed in her head. It was really over. The finality of it setting in, sort of. She knew him better than to believe that he'd give her up so easily.
She rolled over pulling the covers over her bed. She didn't want to deal with this. She didn't think she would be able to deal with him. The phone gave a shrill ring cutting through the silence. Keeping quiet was never his thing, at least not when it came to her.
"Hello?" Her voice was thick and rough with sleep. It was far too early and too soon to be speaking to him again. She knew well she was running risk of ending up just where it had all began.
"You can't do this. I still need you." He sounded like he hadn't slept. He cleared his throat, trying to hide that he'd been crying.
"But I don't need this, Patrick. I don't deserve this." Her words were softer now, dropping off in almost a sigh as she stood to pace in front of the window watching the early morning suburban traffic pass by.
"No, you don't. And I don't deserve you."
She stifled a laugh at his statement, "She's there isn't she?"
"This isn't about her Margaret." The words struggled through his clenched teeth; fight the urge to raise his voice at her.
She didn't hold in the laughter this time, "Of course this is about her Patrick. It's always been about her, though, hasn't it?"
"Stop it Maggie." He warned, his tone not changing.
"Stop what? Being honest?" She asked her voice rising with her anger.
"Stop tearing us apart." His voice was lower, calmer now. Bordering on defeat.
"I'm just breaking the bend."
"I have to go. She'll be awake soon."
"This isn't over Maggie. I'm not done with you." The line went
dead and she closed the phone.
Later that morning the phone buzzed across the desk in front of her. He was at it again. The fifteen text message in an hour, a personal record for him she was sure. He hated the phone, and detested all forms of electronic communication except when absolutely necessary. She guessed he felt that this was one of those times.
/You need me too.12/4/2006 10:54:39 AM/
/Admit it. 12/4/2006 10:54:51 AM/
/You need me like a bad habit. 12/4/2006 10:55:02 AM/
One that leaves you defenseless, depended and alone. 12/4/2006
"Fuck!" She cursed again, for what might have been the millionth time that day. He was getting to her, and she felt herself letting him have his way again. Despite her urge to hurl the phone at the wall she hit the reply button instead. This ended tonight.
Tonight. Be here. 8pm on the dot. 12/4/2006 10:58:46 AM
It was 7:43 the next time she bothered to look at the clock. He'd never sent a reply, but she knew he'd show. He had to. He wanted a fight, and she was giving it to him. But she wouldn't give into him. Not this time. She'd spent the better part of the day locked away in her office attempting to think about anything but him.
At 7:59 on the nose the doorbell sounded. She hurried down the stairs nearly killing herself on the sudden stop at the end. A deep breath in, and out again she opened the door. His finger sat poised to press the bell again when he looked up at her.
"May I?" He asked gesturing toward the foyer like he were a stranger.
"Don't be coy. Just come in." She said shaking her walking
ahead of him to the living room.
He followed her into the room, dropping his coat and scarf on the ottoman like he had a million times before. Nothing about this night seemed to break their routine, but he knew better. The actions were the same, but feelings had changed. More hers than his, but he knew that she was right. He only hated to admit it.
"Why am I here Maggie?"
"Because we need closure, as much as we both hate to admit it. We do." Her voice was softer than he'd expected. He almost longed for contempt in her words, then maybe he'd believe this was really what she wanted.
"We're just protecting ourselves from ourselves, right?" He asked closing the distance between them, but she took a step back.
"Stop Patrick. This is hard enough. You have to let go." Her eyes were closed and he could hear the tears in her voice. This isn't how he'd ever expected it to end, then again he was sure he'd ever really expected it to end.
"But I don't want to."
"Want and need are two very different things."
"Fine then, I need you and I don't want to let you go."
"But you have to Patrick!" Her voice cracked as it raised,
tears now flowing down her cheeks. "Can't you see that? You're killing me with us. I can't do this anymore. I'm..." She cut herself short. She didn't want to use his words, the reason they were standing there.
"Sorry." He finished for her just above a whisper, closing the distance between them again. He pulled her against his body and pressed his lips to hers. He needed to feel them one last time, he needed closure.
When he pulled away she followed him silently to the door. It was raining outside now, Chicago's winter rains were never a good thing. She stepped out on the stoop with him, holding his hands at arms length she spoke, "Good-Ni..." She paused.
"Good-bye Patrick." She dropped his hands and left him there in the rain with no more than those two words. The heavy oak door shut behind her. He blinked twice, tears mixing with the icy rain. Good- night meant I'll see you tomorrow, but Good-bye was forever. He didn't like forever very much anymore.