The sunlight streamed in the window, casting a small golden circle on the fuchsia duvet of her queen size bed. Curling up in a small ball in the middle of the bright patch she made herself as small as possible, arms squeezing her bruised knees tight into her chest and let the rolling sobs she’d been holding in all day takeover her body.
She’d spent the night on her hands and knees obsessively cleaning the floors of the space. She’d needed something to distract her from what was coming in less than 24 hours.
They were coming today to take him from her, she’d known it was happening for more than a month, but was unable to control it due to her circumstances. She felt a complete wash of shame for her inability to protect him from what was coming and what would occupy his space in the future. She was desperate, yet incapable of fixing it.
For the last 15 years he’d been her lifeline, safety, and shelter from the atrocities of the world. She’d woken up each morning, boiled some water, dropped 4 scoops into the french press and then would admire him while the brew steeped into dark richness.
She’d turn on the speaker and play a perfect song before grabbing the creamer out of the fridge, smiling at him while pouring cream into her mug. Always cream first, at least a quarter up the mug, before pouring in the coffee. Then black liquid would meld into the white and swirl together creating a genuine entwining that could never be broken.
That’s how she felt about him. So many of her memories were threaded with him and nothing could pull them apart. Yet here they were, being pulled apart.
She lifted her pained body up off the bed, and stepped into the hallway. Slowly, intentionally, she took everything in, one foot in front of another, walking through the memories of their time together and sliding the back pads of her finger tips fondly along the wall while she moved through the space.
The first time she’d laid eyes on him was after a small heartbreak. She’d been living in the desert in a small stucco two bedroom condo. She’d bought it with her then-boyfriend. It was at a record low price when they purchased it. Three years after sporadically living in it together, but mostly apart, they’d come to the conclusion it was best to part ways. In the split he kept the place, however, it had grown considerably in value. After the appraisal she’d moved back to her hometown with a nice chunk of change.
She was sitting on that money when she met him. He was standing close to Minnehaha park, right near the falls. She saw him from a distance and almost instantly loved him. He was strong and solid, very sure of himself. She made a move towards him and introduced herself. He quietly received her presence and smiled.
He didn’t make a show of himself or put up a front. He simply was as he was. He offered himself up to her that way and they hit it off. She wasn’t sure though, and he fully accepted her when she explained she’d need to play the field a bit and check out some other options. She did, knowing she’d been attracted to him instantly she still messed around with other options for a month or two. Everyday her thoughts kept drifting back to him and their first meeting near the falls.
She knew where to find him so she went. He’d waited patiently for her and when she arrived he was there with a knowing energy. They were meant for each other from the beginning. He hadn’t been anxious in any way. He knew she’d come back to start a life with him. She was in awe. He’d never wavered in his belief of her, so sure of himself. She was sold, totally in love.
There was a deep, audible sigh and it startled her out of her memories.
She giggled slightly. It wasn’t him. “But it might’ve been”, she thought to herself. Her own breath had become heavy again. She felt tears and didn’t want him to see. She moved into the living room shaking with emotion.
Even though it was so hard, it was marked for her to spend these last moments together before they took him away.
Lowering herself to the floor, she placed her cheek on the cold vinyl, and spread out her arms and legs wide. When she’d met him for the second time, in this exact spot, so many years ago, it had been carpet. They made a life together for two happy years here, but she left him for awhile.
When she left, she believed it was out of necessity. They were content, just the two of them, but she met another and requested to bring this other into the relationship. He agreed to it. The other agreed to it too. She loved having both of them in her life. Everything felt full and perfect. However, the other wasn’t as much of a fan of him and wanted to move on. Then the other became insistent about leaving him behind, and convinced her to pack up and go. She did.
She would check in every once in awhile with him. For seven years she’d occasionally pop over and see how he was and always, always, he assured her that he loved her and would be there for her if she ever decided to come back.
At the end of the seventh year things with the other had unraveled so completely she didn’t have anywhere to go. The other was done with her and though he graciously offered her a place to live she could feel his apathy and bitterness permeate into the marrow of her bones. She knew too, the other had always resented him. Over the years they’d had so many conversations about how she should let him go, cut ties completely, just be done with him.
She packed a suitcase, put a few things in her car, and headed back to him, happy she’d never let him go completely. And she thought she never would. He welcomed her back with open arms. She knew she was home with him and grateful for his steadfast love even in her betrayal.
Now, in the present moment, her belly rose and fell on the flooring. She turned her cheek to the other side and it wasn’t cold any longer, warmed from having the left side of her face there for more than five minutes. She could feel him watching her lying spread eagle on the floor.
It was when she left the other and moved back in with him that the carpet had been ripped out and the beautiful vinyl flooring was installed. It looked like hardwood, was a light shade of grey, with the appearance of wood grain. It brightened up the place considerably. There’d also been a fresh coat of paint too. For a short time, while she was with the other, he had invited a woman into his life. He didn’t love the woman and knew she was a temporary, albeit needed, replacement to her.
He graciously allowed the woman in and silently let her smoke in the house even though he detested it. When she moved back in they freshened the space up together replacing the other woman’s scent of stale smoke and ignorance with brand new everything.
They were happy again. And had been. For a time. Then last year she lost her job. It had been rough. She took odd cleaning jobs, and desperately tried to make ends meet. Each night she’d come home to him and he’d hold her and comfort her. He appreciated her effort and gave her security. Sometimes things don’t last, she thought. Security is an illusion, this proves it.
She knew it was time, they were coming for him at 3pm today and it was nearly 2:45pm. She’d cleared everything out of the space already, well almost. The bed was still in there and made up. It had been important to her for them to spend their last night together in comfort. There was also one suitcase sitting outside the front door.
She wanted to wait until the last possible moment to say goodbye to him. She stood up from the floor lost in the memories of love she’d experienced with him. Her body began to shake as she got closer to their final goodbye.
Then abruptly there was a knock at the front door.
They were here. Early. Her stomach dropped. It was time. She walked into the kitchen and looked at him with a panic. Please don’t make me say goodbye. I don’t want to leave you. I need you. I love you. Please. Please. Please.
The knock came again louder and stronger this time with voices yelling at her from the other side.She walked slowly to it, turned the deadbolt, and opened it. On the other side stood two officers in uniform. They stated her name two times, and then…
“Is this you?”
“Yes it is.”
“Ma’am, this is an order of immediate eviction. You received a judicial order of foreclosure on this property 30 days ago and haven’t paid your back mortgage. We are here to make sure you exit the property right now.”
“I’ve been trying, I just don’t have all the money together.”
“Ma’am, that isn’t our problem. You need to leave now.”
She turned and took one more look at him. Empty, quiet, and void of the love they had created together, she took a deep breath in and on the exhale silently said to him,
“I love you so much. I will never forget you.”
She stepped around the officers as they walked in to occupy him. She picked up her suitcase, walked up the stairs, and out the front door. At the street she turned and looked at his exterior. She started to feel everything. Just everything.
The exterior of her heart hardened, and in one moment she built an indestructible damn, unwilling to let the feelings flow. She retracted from the pain and jammed it deep inside as far down into her as she could. She straightened her face, grit down on her teeth, and locked up her body.
With a fraudulent shrug, she said to herself, “it’s just a house.”
She turned away from him, missing the tears falling from the stucco.