One Paragraph story... September 15 edition

She thought she was being nice; I could see that. Took my hand from across the table. Never looked away. Which, I suppose was the most unnerving; the never looking away. The Her not acting at all ashamed, or embarrassed that she was leaving her family. The Her not caring that while she stopped at the side of the road to nap on her way back east, her children and husband would be crying themselves to sleep at night. Or worse becoming colder. So I never took my eyes off her, to show her I was not giving up. Twelve years together; dating two, and married ten, and she wanted to call a full stop to the whole thing so she can what? Find herself. In her old Chevette with 150,000 kilometres on it and no suspension, through the autumn of Canada while she makes this pilgrimage to see who she could have been had she not met us. We are her- And I tell her that- The who she might have been doesn't exist because the path she followed was me, and her kids. I mention their names like blackmail; Tina and Curtis, I say. Your children, I say. If she won’t stay for love, perhaps she will stay for her flesh and blood. She never takes her eyes off mine, she never lets go of my hand, and I want to scream to her, ‘I know your game.’ But, I can’t bring myself to pull away, If this would be the last time I saw her I wanted to remember the smooth of her skin, and the green of her eyes. The three moles on her right temple. Her scent. To never lose the thought of her, ever aware of all the times I took her presence for granted. She tells me she needs to spend time alone because she was lost, that her receptionist job was killing her, that this town was closing in around her- whatever that means. And I looked in her eyes, and then looked even harder and I remembered what her love for me looked like. Behind the familiarity and practicalities of the world fogged it all over, she wasn’t doing this to hurt me, she was doing this to save me. First my thumb inched free of her grasp, then each finger. I slid my hands back to my side of the table and I pursed my lips to a kind of smile, then looked away. 

James C.