I watched the sun rise through the bay window of my apartment. It had been hours now since Alison had walked out. For a long time, I’d been rooted to the spot on the floor where I was standing when she dropped the break-up bomb. The furthest I’d been able to move was to the chair. I hadn’t moved since.
All I could do was replay the fight over and over in my head. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t figure out how to do it differently. I knew I had picked my share of fights in our relationship, but I was right to have fought with her last night. When you’re in a relationship, you can’t just run off to another country without giving your partner any notice. Maybe I’d gone too far by asking if she was sleeping around, but, fuck, what else was I supposed to think? She sure as hell wasn’t sleeping with me.
It couldn’t be over. I had been willing to give up having a family for her; we couldn’t just be over.
I was so wrapped up in my head, I didn’t notice the hours slowly creeping by until, around noon, the door opened.
“I thought you might be out,” Alison said quietly. “You usually have lunch with Nora on Sunday’s.”
“She had to work,” I said dully. I stood up and turned to face her. She looked like she hadn’t had much sleep either.
“I came to pack a bag.”
“Don’t leave, Alison,” I said quietly. “I know we’ve got our differences but – “
She shook her head and walked over to me. “Josh, come on. You know it isn’t working. We were never right for each other. We don’t want the same things. I haven’t really wanted to admit it either, but it’s the truth.” She smiled up at me tearfully. “We never should’ve started this. We were better as friends.”
“Don’t say that. We could – “
She held up her hand. “Josh, no. Stop being so stubborn and admit it. We’re not happy together. Somewhere along the way…we lost whatever it was that made us great together. So, we’re over. I’m going to pack a bag and stay at my mom’s for a while. I’ll come get the rest of my stuff later.”
“What am I supposed to do without you?” I asked helplessly. Even before we’d dated, we’d had each other to rely on.
“The same thing I’m going to do without you,” she said sadly. “Move on.”
I watched her walk down the narrow hallway and go into the bedroom. I sank down onto the chair again because my knees wouldn’t hold me up anymore. I had never thought things would end with Alison. But, as painful as it was for me to admit, she was…right. Our relationship hadn’t been happy for a long time. But losing her…it was like I was cutting out something vital. I wanted to ask her if we could still be friends, but I couldn’t see us just hanging out anymore. How could either of us be just friends after everything we’d been through together?
She was right. We never should’ve gone down this road.
Alison came out of the bedroom with a suitcase. I looked over at her. “So. You’re going to stay with Elaine for a while. What then?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve got an interview with a company in Newcrest. So maybe I’ll go there? It’s not too far away. I was also looking at Oasis Springs.”
“Nothing in Willow Creek?”
“I’ve got some options here. I’ll see where I end up.”
I got to my feet again, looking at her beautiful face. I’d imagined myself waking up to that face every day for the rest of my life. “So.”
She smiled a little. “So. Bye, Josh.” She leaned up and gave me a quick peck on the cheek, picked up her bag, and walked out of the apartment with a note of finality.
It felt like a chapter of my life had ended.