It was New Year’s Day when you left. It was your decision to go, but still, that morning you rushed around like a mad man, cramming shoes into duffel bags and snatching blankets off of beds. Anything you didn’t want, you let fall to the ground. It became harder to watch because of the mess and the inevitability. When you walked out the door, everything had been torn from the closets and cupboards. It felt like I’d been robbed.
I watched as you drove away, waving until the sides of my jaw hurt from clenching a smile in place. When I returned to our apartment it was full of ill-fitting jeans and filthy pillowcases, but nothing worth having. I stood there for a minute, reeling, disgusted to be a part of all those things you didn’t want to take along. And then I did the only thing I could do. I left, too, with all those discarded items littering the floor. I stepped over piles of our old life, and ignored all the things you didn’t need anymore. I plucked one tee-shirt, bearing the phrase No Man is an Island from that sea of disappointment, and sliding it into my handbag, I trotted down those steps for the last time.
I slipped a note under the landlord’s door saying that we had gone, and to throw the remaining things away. We weren’t coming back, not for any of it. I left the keys in the mailbox and the illegal copies we’d made, too, so I wouldn’t be tempted to go back and try again. I don’t remember if I thought I would ever see you again. But, sometimes I feel guilty about the refrigerator. Even after all these years, my stomach clenches when I think of it, trying to remember exactly how bad the contents must have been. I should have eaten the fruit before it went hard with mold. I should have thrown the wilted meats and greening cheeses into the trash. I should have properly discarded those items so that the landlord wouldn’t know the truth about what happened.
Meghan Cooper is a graduate of The State University of New York at Fredonia, and currently teaches Special Education in Brooklyn, where she lives with her fourteen year-old son.