I’ve been challenged to write 10 beginnings to 10 stories over the first 10 days of February. Since I don’t have a laptop, I’m writing these out by hand, so they’ll be posted a day later. Here is the first.
“What happened to us?”
The words echo around a room filled with emptiness, creeping into corners of dust-laden bookshelves and over wooden floorboards before making their way back to him having picked up hints of accusation and resentment on their path.
“As if I know. As if this is all my fault.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You didn’t have to.”
Each word stings with déjà vu of arguments long past but only partially forgotten, and he closes his eyes and shakes his head to try and shake away the sense of pointlessness.
“I’m not going to fight with you.”
“You never want to fight any more.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
He laughs, loudly, ignoring the break in her voice, knowing that if he were to concentrate on it, it would take over and he wouldn’t be able to go through with it after all.
“It’s never a simple yes or no with you, is it?”
“It could have been.”
She’s picked her moment carefully, waiting for the best time to strike, and this is it. She’s looking for a fight and she sure knows how to start one. He bites back on the pit of anger inside him and turns towards the door.
“Don’t,” she whispers, and though she’s still waiting for him across the room, it’s as though she’s right beside him. He can practically feel her soft breath on his cheek, can breathe in the intoxicating scent of liquorice jasmine, and it’s enough to make him stop in his tracks. It always has been. They stand apart, him facing the door, her waiting for him, and the thought occurs to him that this is the scene that defines them, a fixed moment in time, always coming back to them over the days and years until there is nothing left for time to destroy.
“What do you think happened?” he asks, and there is no contempt hidden within the words, though he knows that she’ll read into them as she pleases.