The path to her weekend was finally in front of her. Just a few more careful steps, avoiding the cracks where the soil and weeds were surfacing and the broken slabs jutted out and she would be able to put it all behind her. Momentarily, at least.
But something stopped her dead in her tracks as she reached the front door. It was a dead bird. Its claws were outstretched as if perching, the blues and greens of it’s majestic coat, gleaming in the afternoon sun. It was beautiful. How could life end like this? A black full stop on her doorstep? Her thoughts spilled out like ink as she sat and observed, forming a beautiful poem, a story of life, bound together in her head by words she couldn’t speak.
He arrived home in the early evening. His pace quickened slightly at the sight of her in her pathetic huddle, her knees in her arms on the doorstep. As he neared, he towered above her, blocking out the light from the remaining sun, crouching down to meet her.
“How long have you been sat here? You must be freezing.” It sounded somewhere between patronizing and concern, which is what she’d wanted. Wasn’t it? For him to care enough to understand her?
Then he caught sight of it. He looked down at the creature and rose, putting his hand on her shoulder and patting it, gently.
“I’ll put it in the bin.”
That wasn’t what she’d wanted him to say.
Before she knew it, he was back with an old crumpled carrier bag, scooping up the thing like it was dog excrement before placing into the bin, tenderly for her sake.
“Now, let’s get you inside, you silly thing.” He put his arm around her, guiding her through the door. “I’ll run you a bath and pour you a nice glass of wine.” He seemed pleased with himself, as if he knew this would make it better – make her need him more.
She smiled, patting at the damp on her cheeks with the tissue he had given her and sat, waiting for him to return and for him to ask her what she thought about the bird. But when he returned, he started telling her a story about work.
And there they were again: the differences between them, creeping into the empty space next to her on the sofa. She could feel it – the black hole, growing, bigger and bigger – before her as he sat, talking and talking and she went on pretending to listen.