Fiction (2nd of a 3-part series)
“Maybe you should get out.”
Your voice was so calm that I couldn’t readily make sense of your words. I felt as if I were in a tunnel a million miles away from you. You were becoming a memory as quickly as the snow had started to fall. I needed to get some air. It was only after I grabbed the door handle that I finally grasped what you had said to me — at least that’s the way it felt. Maybe I had subconsciously heard you, I don’t know.
I started walking away from the car as quickly as possible, we were miles from an exit and I had no plan for what I was going to do next. I just had to keep moving. Wasn’t that what I always did? Keep moving? I saw your brake lights flash as you passed me — and for a second I thought you’d ask me to get back in — I wouldn’t have done it though. I have my pride. If nothing else, I have my pride.
As my boots crunched along the icy snow, I thought about your face the moment I told you what I’d done. I saw the color drain from your skin and I was satisfied. That’s what I had intended. A swift end. I wish it hadn’t come to that, but there was no other way.
I didn’t want to do it really. It was true that she meant nothing to me. She was just a means to an end. I did her no harm, she’d been flirting with me for weeks, so I knew she’d say yes. She knew about you and didn’t care. She wanted what she wanted and I wanted out.
I wish you’d ended it weeks ago when I told you it would never work. You are always so goddamn optimistic. You probably never guessed I hated that about you. I cringed inside every single time you said “We can make this work if we want to”. You don’t know anything about what I can make work. I can’t. I can’t do those things you find so easy.
I knew I’d end up hating you and I didn’t want that — we had a good thing for a while didn’t we? I can’t explain what happened. I couldn’t make you understand that you simply had ceased to exist for me. I couldn’t make you understand that the minute you threatened to destabilize my life, I had started pushing you to the back of my brain. Our every conversation started to exhaust me. I couldn’t make plans any longer. I couldn’t keep up the pretense that everything would be okay. It wasn’t your fault, but it seemed too hard to explain. So I had to do something you could understand.
After about a quarter mile, I pulled out my phone. This was bullshit, I thought, I needed an Uber. I sat on a guardrail at mile marker 86 waiting for my ride. The snow was heavy and wet and made me think of that time last year when we rented the cabin. You had been so beautiful by candlelight. I don’t know when I started to suffocate exactly, but it was soon after that weekend. You were so happy and I wanted to be happy too. I really did. I wish I could tell you that.
Then I saw the lights.