“Wait!” she cried. She heaved in a breath, desperate for oxygen. She couldn’t seem to fill her lungs fast enough. She watched his retreating form, feeling paralyzed. She couldn’t go after him – she wouldn’t. She stood there as her heart broke into a million little pieces. This man she’d hardly ever noticed before, who had come to mean so much to her. She dropped to her knees as she tried to concentrate on her breathing. She listened to her breath – the only sound in the now deafening silence. She dragged in ragged breaths as she tried to stop the tears from coming, but there they were; falling from her eyes in seemingly endless rivulets.
She woke in the entry way, her face still wet from tears. She just laid there. She was face down – she must have cried herself to sleep right where she fell. All of her felt heavy. She tried to sit up, but couldn’t seem to muster the strength. She laid there some more. If she just gave it enough time, she’d be able to get up. A pressing need to use the bathroom was not going to allow her such a luxury. With a great effort and a heavy heart, she pulled herself up off the floor. The front of her shirt was stained with tears, her mascara streaked her face, and she had sleep marks on all the parts of her skin that had been touching the floor as she slept.
She walked the short distance to the bathroom like it was her death march. Each step took effort. She felt each movement in every muscle in her body. The bathroom did nothing to improve her mood. She caught a glimpse of her face in the mirror and quickly looked away. It was too late though. She had already seen the damage. In addition to the mascara streaks, her eyes were puffy, her nose was red, and the color was drained from her face. “A shower” she said, to no one in particular. “I need a shower.”
She relieved the ever mounting pressure in her bladder, stripped out of her clothes and got into a shower that was as hot as she could stand. She stood facing the scalding stream and let the heat of the water replace the ache of her broken heart. She slowly lowered her face into the water and let it slowly creep onto her hairline until she was all the way under. The water felt amazing. It seemed to remove the scuz she felt from falling asleep on the floor.
Once she felt a little more human, she turned to grab her shampoo. As she squeezed it into her hand, the familiar scent wafted through the steam filled bathroom. It made her feel at home and normal in some small way. She focused on getting through each small task. Like bullet points stacking up in her head:
- Rub shampoo into hair
- Rinse hair
- Squeeze conditioner into hand
- Rub conditioner into hair
- Grab loufa
- Squeeze body wash onto loufa
- Scrub body
And then the tears started to fall. Not the hysterical sobbing that happened as she watched him walk away from her. Just silent sadness coming from her eyes. She imagined the countless times he had done this part with her. His strong hands, capable of so much, scrubbing her gently. Her back, her shoulders, her belly – all expertly cleaned with careful tenderness.
She stopped the thought before her heart could shatter more. He was gone. Gone. There was a finality to it that she couldn’t quite wrap her mind around. She’d still see him at the office.
Oh God! The OFFICE! How could she look at him now? How could she face him after this? How would he be with her? Would he treat her like he used to? Like she wasn’t there? She wouldn’t be able to stand it. To have him treat her like a stranger. She wouldn’t survive it. Maybe she could quit. She didn’t really need a job anyway, right? She’d figure something out. It was the beginning of the month. She could quit and find another source of income before bills came due – she had a little saved up.
“Stop it Leora. You’re being an IDIOT.” She said it out loud so that it would sink in. “You are NOT quitting your job over him!”
This was getting her nowhere. Showering. She had to finish showering. Then she could figure out the next step.