Winter Rain, part 1

She watches me from across the table, her eyes pained, tired. They weren’t always so. When we first met, her eyes were full of joy and light.

I fidget with the handle of my cup and look past her—past, where it’s safe. I can’t meet her gaze any more. There’s too much there, now—too much I can’t bear.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I just . . . don’t think we should do this any more.”

The painting behind her is ugly. Whorls of green and grey, an undertone of blue. Somebody’s idea of modern abstract. Somebody with no taste.

The colours blur at the edges and I look down. Not to her.

I know I could save it. Even now. Nothing has changed permanently. Not yet.

But it’s about to.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” she asks. Her voice isn’t steady.

I study the shine on the handle of my cup and shake my head.

It’s better this way. Better she hates me and moves on. Better that than . . . .

She pushes her chair back suddenly and stands, knocking the table in the process. Her empty cup bounces once, clatters onto its side, and rolls toward the edge. She starts to grab for it, then pulls her hand back, her fingers curling into a fist. I cringe as the cup crashes to the floor. She takes a step toward the door.

“I hope you find some happiness,” she says softly, then walks away.

I listen to her footsteps receding. The noise from the street gets briefly louder, then quiet again, and I know she’s gone.

My vision blurs, and this time, there’s nothing I can do.