“Hey. Sorry I’m late.”
I never saw the cracks, but I was there when everything broke down to a million little pieces. I was there when the damage was so great it went way beyond repair. And I just watched.
“So, how’ve you been?”
I don’t know when or how it all started, but by the time I started noticing, they were already playing their last cards and walking their very last steps together.
The tension then was so intense I could almost see it. There was this constant unsettling feeling the moment I walked past the front door, a strange heaviness in the air and an eerie silence that took over the whole house. Those were the first signs.
After all the screaming, yelling and arguing, everything went quiet. We would sit down for lunch or dinner and in the rare occasions they would both be there, nobody talked.
“Hanna told me you had a job interview this morning. How did it go?”
A huge part of me tried to ignore it all. Maybe this is their new way to deal with things. Maybe they’re just having a break. After almost thirty years, anyone would need a break, right? Everything is okay. We’re okay. A silent prayer I recited for all the unspoken words, cold glances, and slammed doors.
But as days turned into months, it became more obvious than ever that things were only getting worse. We weren’t okay.
“Oh yea she’s fine. She called me this morning and said that we should drop by sometime. She said that she misses you around_”
It was the way they looked at each other and the way they avoided each other’s gaze at any cost.
It was in all the emotions that radiated from both of them each time they crossed paths in the hallway. The hatred and anger that seeped from every pore of his skin at her sight, so strong he could no longer cover, and the confusion, hurt and resentment that turned her hazel eyes a darker shade of brown.
It was in the poisonous words, blames and accusations they spat at each other’s faces and backs.
It was in their absence- the long days he spent away from the warmth of our house, and the cold nights he stumbled in with someone else- that I could clearly see just how bad things were.
But it wasn’t until the day she signed the papers she always kept in the back of her drawer, that I finally gave up hoping.
The day she packed every last of her belongings, held my small hand and walked away not looking back once. She walked away from a man she once loved, a house she once owned and a life that once made her happy.
It was real then. We weren’t okay and we would never be. Not this time. Not after this.
“So, did you think about it?”
I’m pulled away from my brain hearing those words. Did I think about it?
Well, yea, I always think about it, about you, me and us. But then I also think about them.
It’s like, whenever I open that drawer inside my brain where I save every memory I have of you and me, their memories instantly bleed into them so that I see him in your eyes, and her in mine. I hear his yelling in your voice when you call my name and her muffled sobs when I call yours, the deafening silence at dinner and lunch and the unbearable absence of warmth and a place to call home. Everything comes rushing back, relentless, unforgiving and real.
I look at sky and realize that it’s getting late already. How long have we been here?
The last rays of the setting sun fade further into the horizon, leaving a trail of colors I try but can’t find words to describe. It’s orange, violet, and purple and something else I can’t quite put into words. I stare at it for a while longer and it hit me that, just like the colors of this sunset, I can’t seem to find proper words to answer your question. How can I explain everything when it has always been inside my head? How can I let you know that it’s neither my fault not yours, that everything is rooted so deep inside me I just can’t seem to let go? How can I tell you that I’m terrified of losing you, but the image of us becoming them terrifies me even more? No, how can I tell you all this without you looking at me like I’m just another damaged soul that needs a fix?
You see, no matter how I look at it- all the different scenarios that play and replay inside my brain- it always ends the same. It’s always one of us hurting the other. And I can’t let that happen.
With the feeling of a thousand knife stabbed so deep inside my chest, I turn to look at you to say the two words I’ve finally settled on: I can’t. I look you right in the eyes and you already know. I see hurt and disappointment then worse, I see hope swirling inside your pupils but you already know and it hurts so much I can’t even spell those two words. I don’t know what you see but you reach your hand and wipe something from my cheeks and it’s only then that I realize that I’m crying. You know. You say something and I carve those words inside my heart as your last and then you’re gone and I’m all alone sitting on a cold bench in an empty park. You know, you’re gone and it’s over and I can’t decide which of them feels worse.
I get up and leave and suddenly I’m standing outside the front door. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, locking every memory back where it truly belongs then walk in.
Familiar warmth instantly engulfs me, calming my raging brain and heart and I find myself heading straight to the kitchen because that’s where she’d be. A delicious smell greets me first and there she is, standing by the counter serving dinner.
“Hey honey! How was your day?” She says as soon as she hears me coming in then turns to look at me when she doesn't hear a response. For the second time today, something in my eyes speaks for me because she too, looks like she knows. Only this time, it feels more like mother’s instincts than anything else. She silently opens her arms and I sink in her warm embrace. She strokes my hair gently and if she already knows, never once does she ask about the reason her daughter broke yet another heart and walked from yet another love. Maybe she already knows that too, although I’m hoping she doesn’t.
I never saw the cracks, but I was there when everything broke down to a million little pieces, some of which belonged to me. I realize that I never really survived the explosion and that some of those shards are still buried so deep inside my skin but until I learn how to allow the wounds to scar, every image I have of love will keep looking like theirs: an empty broken glass.