Leaving

She should have been mad, but she just felt tired. So very tired. Much too tired to spend another night fighting, especially since she no longer knew what she was fighting for.

“Okay,” she said.

“Okay?”

“Okay,” she repeated. “I’m leaving.”

“What? Hold on; you can’t just leave.” She didn’t answer. She just walked to the closet and pulled out her coat and a pair of shoes. “Where are you going?”

She shrugged. “Away.”

“Well stop,” he growled. “I’m trying to tell you I’m sorry.”

A vague nod as she walked to the door. “You told me.”

Helpless with fury, he cried, “Why are you punishing me?”

She stopped, hand on the nob, and turned. Her eyes crashed through him like a brick through glass. Nights of rage, nights of grief, nights of wondering and of regret had condensed into a dense, dark abyss that sucked all further words from his throat. “Punishing you?” she echoed softly. “Believe me, I’m not doing this for you.”

And then she was gone.

The night was cold, her feet ached, and she had no idea where she was going. She should have been scared. Instead she felt the wind stirring.

She followed it.

Reasons

“Can we talk?”

Leah turned to see Marci on the next stool. “I’d rather not,” she answered flatly and turned away.

“This is uncomfortable for me too,” Marci said, “but we have to talk about this.”

“About how you broke his heart?”

It was what Marci had expected, but it still made her cheeks burn with shame. “Well,” she offered, “if I hadn’t, you never would have gotten together.”

However, Leah’s next reply was entirely unexpected. “We’re not together,” she said, draining the amber liquid from her glass.

“I thought . . .”

Leah turned back, tears glistening in her eyes. “I don’t think he was ever really that interested. Anyway, he’s engaged now or something.”

“Oh,” Marci answered. A pause. “Me too.”

Leah let out a heavy, pained sigh. “Congratulations, I guess.”

The women sat silently in the noisy bar until Marci decided to make one last effort. “You know there’s a reason I left him, right?  There are . . . a lot of reasons.”

“Yeah,” Leah said, “He’s toxic. I get it.”

“If you get it, then why do you still hate me?”

Leah shook her head. “Like you said, if you hadn’t left him, he never would have gotten to hurt me.”

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

Story by Gregory M. Fox