Author's Note: A very random original snippet. I don't really know where it came from at all, but please take a read and enjoy!
. . .
He woke up just as she was getting out of bed. Groggily he watched her, blinking away the sleep and clearing his muddled mind as she tip-toed across the floor. She was nearly at the door by the time he found his voice.
"Where are you going?"
She jumped at the sound of him talking--she clearly had thought she'd be able to sneak out undetected--and looked ashamed when she turned around slowly to face him. "I--I was just going to go get water," she told him quietly, whispering, even though they were the only ones in the house and there was no longer anyone left to wake up.
"Yeah?" he wondered, interested now because of her hesitation. He pushed himself up into a sitting position. "Do you mind if I come?"
Before she could answer, he had already thrown aside the blanket and placed his feet on the ground. The wooden planks were freezing against his bare feet, but he didn't shiver. He had a very strong and unexplainable urge not to show weakness towards her at this moment in time.
I was just going to get water.
Why did he think she was lying?
Because she is, a voice snapped at him. She's been doing it for days.
He pushed the thoughts away, walking across the cold floor of their small bedroom to meet her by the door. He was just about to put his hand on her back to usher her out, but before he could touch her, she stepped forward, slipping down the hall. He followed after her, more wary than usual, listening to every creak in the little old house as they made their way through it. None of the lights were on and he kept a hand on the wall at all times, feeling his way through the darkness.
Her footsteps were silent and she never once stumbled. He tripped at least two times on the way to the kitchen, and he couldn't help but wonder how she--who had only lived here with him for a couple weeks now--knew the house so much better than him.
But that had always been her special talent, to be able to connect to places and people at the drop of a hat. To be able to assimilate herself into any situation, any relationship, any lifestyle.
He watched her as she walked to the sink, wondering if this life she led with him was anything different from all the others. I like to wander, was the first thing she'd told him when they'd met. He couldn't help but wonder now how long it would be until she wandered away.
"Do you want some, too?"
He looked up to find her holding up a glass from the cabinet aloft. Though he wasn't thirsty, he nodded.
For a couple seconds, the sound of the running faucet was their only conversation. Then she shut it off, and the silence cloaked them like darkness on a moonless night, and they each sank into their chairs opposite one another across the little table. When she pushed the glass across the table's wooden surface, it sounded almost as grating as nails on a chalkboard.
He took his glass, and for a second they both sipped at their water slowly. She avoided his eye most of the time, but when he managed to catch her gaze for a moment, she quickly averted hers, and then downed her whole glass. The sound it made when she slammed it back down on the table rang throughout the empty old house. They were the only people inside it. Sometimes it felt like they were the only people in the entire world.
That was not, as it turned out, an entirely good feeling.
He stared at her for a long time--taking in the way her nose sloped out like one side of a half-pipe as she looked down at her hands; the way her chin pointed outwards and pulled the skin around her face tight against her bones; the way her eyes looked tiny when they turned away from him, but were as big as a baby's when she looked up at him. She wasn't looking at him now. She was staring at her hands, and chipping the black nailpolish off of her pale fingers. Her thin blonde hair hung around her face like a curtain, cutting off everyone--except him, who could look straight towards her and see her.
He didn't see the same woman he used to see when they'd first met. That woman had been bright and bubbly; smiling and happy. This woman was quiet and somber and serious. She, from the look in her eyes, had nothing but business to attend to now.
"Do you want to leave?" he asked finally, averting his eyes down to the tabletop as well. He didn't look at her as he spoke because he did not want to run the risk of watching her be unable to meet his eyes. He stared into his glass and waited for her to answer. "Is that what you were trying to do when I woke up? Leave me?"
For what felt like a very, very long time she didn't speak. He could hear the sound of her nails scraping against one another, and hear the sound of her nailpolish being scraped off as if a microphone was being pressed up against her nailbeds. "I want to leave this place," she finally replied. He lifted his eyes just a fraction of an inch. Her hands had stopped scratching at one another; they now held her water glass so tightly he could see the white of her bones behind her skin. "But I don't want to leave you."
"You sure about that second part?" he asked, not knowing how he was able to keep his voice so calm. It was like someone else had stepped inside his body and taken over the controls. His voice did sound like his own, but he couldn't help but think that he wasn't really the one speaking.
He wondered if he was having an out-of-body experience, and if maybe he'd died sometime during the night.
He had a sudden thought: What would she do if he died? Before he could think of an answer, she spoke:
"I am sure." Her eyes were staring straight into his when he finally looked up to face her. Her bright green eyes were sharp and fierce in their determination, their confidence. When he stared at her, he couldn't help but imagine her saying: If I wanted to leave you, I'd already be gone.
"So what is it, then?" He shrugged, asking for an explanation. "You want to leave and you want me to come with?" He smirked, throwing out the joke. She knew he would never leave here; his family had lived in this little old house for generations.
She didn't get the joke. In all seriousness, she answered, "Yes."
He stared at her blankly, his mouth slightly agape, as he processed what she was saying. She doesn't really mean that, a voice in his head whispered, scared at even the possibility that she might. She can't. This is home.
But it's not her home.
He blinked as he realized that irrefutable truth, and sat back in his chair. She doesn't have a home. Never will. The chair creaked as he readjusted his weight. She did not flinch or look away as he surveyed her, and he wondered if she knew what he was thinking. "You mean that," he said finally. It was not a question, and hardly a statement. It was a string of words that waited for her confirmation.
She nodded almost at once. "Yes. I do mean that."
"You know I can't do that."
"I know you don't want to do that," she answered. She brought her arms together, crossing them over the table and leaning against them as she bent forward. "But what you can and can't do isn't about what you want."
He wanted to scowl at her for trying to throw platitudes in his face, but he managed to hold his lips in place as well as his anger. Part of him still remembered the philosophical way she'd talked when they'd first met. She had had--and still did have--such a different outlook on life than anyone he'd ever met. It was what had drawn him to her so much. It was what kept him from letting her leave now.
What would he do when he didn't have her around anymore, to bring him strange viewpoints, and to urge him to see things in ways he'd never imagined existed? Who would put new ideas in his small-town brain once she left?
If she left.
"I don't want you to leave." He hadn't meant to say it so soon--he should've saved that argument for last--but he couldn't keep it in anymore. "I don't," he repeated, looking her in the eye.
A small smile turned up the edges of her thin, wonderfully kissable lips. "I know you don't," she murmured, but the words sounded more like a mother consoling her child than a woman promising not to go. He watched her lips move and wondered who would be the next person to taste them. "But I have to go. I can leave with you or I can leave without you, but... Either way, I have to leave. I have to."
"I can't abandon the house," he told her. "I can't leave this place." He meant everything he was saying, but the words came out sounding dull. Like an excuse.
His real argument passed between them as they stared at one another: I'm not you. I can't just pack up and leave whenever I need a breath of fresh air.
He almost said the words but something--he wasn't sure if it was fear or just exhaustion--held him back.
She sat and waited, waited for him to protest some more, waited for him to plead some more, but he didn't say another word. After a while, he even stopped look at her. It was then that she got to her feet and headed to the bedroom. She was back in the kitchen, her beaten and patched and fraying duffle bag over her shoulder. It had once been green, but looked mostly brown now.
She stopped in the doorway, her hand resting on the frame. They stared at one another; him waiting for her to go and her waiting for him to say something to make her stay. He didn't speak and so she stepped away. She didn't have to walk past him to get to the door but she did it anyway. His shoulder was tight and bony when she reached down to squeeze it. She didn't say anything, didn't do anything else, and neither did he.
He listened to her walk away, and just as he knew she was passing through the front hall, he called out. "You're not even going to say you love me before you go?"
He listened to her steps falter and, for a second, as she turned, he thought she was going to run back to him. He could see it all in his mind's eye--her in his arms, in his bed, in his life. Forever.
But then the second passed, and the ridiculous fantasy with it, and she didn't do anything more than turn partway towards him. "I don't really think it's a good idea to do that right now," she told him quietly. Her green eyes apologized for all and gave pardons to none as she spoke. She adjusted her bag over her shoulder, and turned again to go.
He watched her leave, and didn't say a word. Didn't take a step. She was at the door when she, of her own volition and of no protest on his part, looked back. She had a look of necessary sadness on her face, like she didn't quite feel grief but knew she was supposed to, and showed it only out of obligation.
"Remember," she called softly, "you never really loved me, either."
And with that, she was gone.
After the door shut, he told the empty house stubbornly, "Yes, I did," but it didn't sound as true as he'd once believed it to be.
He sat and waited for the sun to rise, wondering if it ever had been.
. . .
Author's Note: Like I said, I'm not really sure where this came from at all. I have a ton of schoolwork--and a ton of works-in-progress that I want to work on--but this little thing just kind of came to be last night. I'm glad to have finally finished something; I really hope to get back to publishing my stories soon. I am currently trying to post them all in chronological order, and I'm having some trouble with a couple of the ones at the start (of course!), so that's why I've been taking forever to get my work up. However, I believe things will get done eventually... Thank you so much to those who are reading my other stories, for your patience and your kindness! I cherish your guys' generosity and thoughtfulness so much. :)
Anyway--if you read this story and had any thoughts on it, please leave them below! I'm not sure if I'll write anything more with these two, but if you'd like to see something, let me know! :) Thank you very much! Have a lovely Friday. (It is raining here--perfect writing weather!)