cold

They woke up, just as they did every morning: him staring at the locks of her hair as they cascaded across the pillow, her brown curls lit in stripes by the blinds. He watched as she breathed, her chest rose and fell like the tide.

She watched the fan spin, counting the seconds in her head.

She crawled out of bed and put the coffee on in the kitchen. She moved a box off the stool and sat down watching the coffee boil and hiss.
He walked into the kitchen, as if drawn by the scent. He opened the cabinet and pulled down a mug, and then stared into the open cabinet.
He furrowed his brow, looking over his shoulder at her.
She raised her eyebrow just enough to be noticeable.
He wandered out into the sea of cardboard, his hands deep in his pockets. Peeling back a few folds, he uncovered a box of books, and another of kitchen utensils and placemats. He started in on a third before he felt her gaze on his back.
He caught her eye and opened the box anyway.
Ah ha, he nodded.
What?
You took my mug.
No, I didn’t.
He dug it out and held it up. He resisted the urge to say I told you so, but the look he gave her was enough.
Oh.
He looked it over as if it he were seeing it for the first time.
You know where I got this mug?
Here we go.
She sighed. He didn’t speak.
Where did you get it?
I don’t remember, I was asking if you did.
Oh. I don’t remember either.
I don’t know, it’s just been a long time since I had to think about it… It’s just always been, you know?
I know. I guess I just didn’t think about it when I packed it.
Wasn’t this a gift?
She shrugged.
Hmm. He took it back into the kitchen and set it near the coffee pot.
Silence stirred in the air. She absently picked at her nails. He poured two mugs and set one on the counter in front of her amid the boxes scattered next to her.
He held the mug to warm his hands. She traced the steaming rim with her finger.
Do you have any plans?
Like tonight?
No, like, she waved her hand around trying to think of a better word, at all.
I haven’t really thought about it.
I’m not saying this to force you into anything….
He raised the mug to his lips and blew. Yeah?
But, she continued, if you want to help me move some of this stuff we could go eat or something after.
Why?
Well it’d be easier to move…
No, why dinner?
I just thought it’d be a good, you know, final send-off, or goodbye, I guess.
I thought yesterday was the final goodbye. To be honest, I thought you would have moved out already.
I’m just saying, it’s an idea.
I’ll think about it later.

She took a sip from her mug and he did the same.
It’s weird.
She looked up, thinking he meant the coffee.
It’s weird to think about what I haven’t had to think about in a long time. It’s like everything’s new again.
It’s just like it was a long time ago.
Too long ago. It’s like I have to learn how to walk again.
Not that long ago.
He smiled, but just for one fleeting second.
She took a drink.
New doesn’t always mean bad.
He bit his lip.
Doesn’t always mean good, either.

Don’t be like that.
Don’t be like what?
So fucking pessimistic. All the time.
He threw his hands in the air.
No.
She squinted her eyes.
What do you mean, no?
No, I’m going to be as fucking pessimistic as I want. I suddenly have the freedom to do so.
Fine, I wont stop you.
No, you can’t stop me.
She held her face in her hand, feeling herself breathe.
Not anymore.

 

He wanted to say it but wouldn’t.
She did too, but couldn’t.

She left her mug on the counter when she went. The coffee was cold. It stayed there for days.
He hid his in a box with her books. When he carried it to her car, he made sure to put it on the bottom.

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