She had felt fragile all day but never expected...
Her wasted desire dripped off in hardened shards. A chandelier, shedding its glittering components.
It had been raining and she had been shopping.
The bags, dumped inelegantly in the hallway, spilled out their contents in higgledy-piggledy mounds. An egg’s orange yolk curled its way along the channels between the encaustic tiles. The dogs thrust their noses in, excitedly looking for enticing morsels and treats.
Her hair clung to her face in dark, wet straggles. Some over her eyes, some sticking into her mouth. Her mouth, pouting in disbelief, hung slightly open. She had nothing left to shut it. Nothing left to say.
The crystal shards arrowed down and pinned her bare feet to the bare floorboards.
The dogs played with her discarded muddy boots and damp socks. She didn't notice. She didn't notice them joyously eating the raw sausages either.
She couldn't move. The blades of emotion had rendered her pinned to the spot. She hadn't chosen the spot. It was just where she had stopped. Her fuel had run out and she just stopped. Dead.
Apart from the heavy, shallow breathing, forcing her chest to heave. In and out. In and out. In and out, she felt dead. At least she would have done if she could feel anything.
She couldn't feel a thing.
The pain was too big.
She shut down while her outer shell carried on peeling away. Faster and faster and faster with each glassy layer.
She felt bare.
She felt see-though.
She felt stupid.
How had she let herself get into this? Again. It was never meant to happen. Again.
Despite her best laid plans it sneaked in through the cracks. More mouse than man. The cracks of hope and want. The cracks that wanted to open so badly she couldn't stop them.
Couldn't hold them closed.
Gradually it got in and took hold. Was it slowly? She didn't really know. She thought it could have been surprisingly swift.
Surprisingly easy to give in.
To give herself up.
To want to try and hope and feel.
Now it wanted to get out. She wanted the red hot poison to empty itself. Leach away. Or was it freezing cold? So cold it burned. Burned into her soul. It didn't matter, it was dead either way.
Trashed and smashed.
Her heart had split right open. Exploded in one bitter pivot of a moment. The moment that it probably wouldn't be able to come back from. The dark surrounded her in its comforting embrace.
Hold me so tight I can’t breathe. Any more.
Make this bloody pain stop.
The pain she never wanted to feel again but it had got her. Hard and sharp and long and cold and hot.
Nearly home, a bag for life in each straining hand, she had looked up and seen them. Framed by a window and curtains like ones on a theatre stage. The play had already started and she didn't want to be in the audience but there she was. Rooted. Looking up. Obvious if only they had eyes for anyone else, but they didn’t. He pushed her away. Held her at arms length. His hands firmly planted on her narrow shoulders. He looked at her before pulling her into him and they clung together.
She turned then. Quickly walked the half-block remaining. Someone may have said
She didn't take any notice. Like a drunk concentrating on walking straight desperately trying to appear normal.
She felt like a volcano.
One about to erupt and expel angry red lava up and out.
Up and out.
He hadn't given her anything. No reason. No encouragement just comfort. No promises to be broken. No words to lie. No nothing. Just her stupidity and her hope. Her damn, stupid, bloody annoying, hope.
The fantasy had been broken. Revealed in all its Disney glory. Hippos and elephants would probably dance around the trees lining the road, where her house was. Just to take the piss. Tinkerbelle would flutter about her head. Tutting and waggling her wand in her face before flying off. Chuckling to herself.
She was down to bare bones. Her hope and heart glittering at her feet like a pyre about to leap into flame.
Please devour me.
The thought of having to face him, was intolerable. Never again.
He’d call round. Lazily lean against her kitchen units trying to drink organic Earl Grey, all he would touch, while it was too hot. Far too hot. Just like him. Damnit. Stop it.
She knew he wasn't really. To most people he’d just be ordinary. Boring. Maybe a bit of an arsehole. He was one of those people you could forgive anything. She could anyway. Almost. Not this.
The betrayal that wasn't but felt like the worse kind.
She hadn't told him. Hadn't flirted. Even told him she wasn't interested. In anyone. God, she had emphasised that.
Non-threatening, she thought. Safe. A friend. A good friend. Pals, mates and all that. She hadn't had even expected benefits. Occasionally a random stray thought had flittered through her whole body and she wondered where the hell it had come from while at the same time smiling and lingering for just a brief, delicious second, before slamming the door back shut. Trapping it in. Trapping them in. She didn't think things like that. She just didn't Wondered where they came from. Uninvited but still knock, knock, knocking on her door.
She shivered. Suddenly she needed her coat, a jumper, a blanket. She didn't really care. Just something warm around her.
It took ten long minutes to pull each long, jagged, shard of ice out of her feet. One at a time until they were all slung away and in the corner. Left to slowly melt away.
She started to move. She was stiff. From cold and stillness. The ravaged shopping vaguely registered, as did the 6 guilty eyes. It had been great fun but they knew they were wrong and in trouble. They didn't like it when she shouted at them. They loved her. Really, really loved her. Always would.
She smiled at them, a tiny half smile, and croaked, softly;
She left the shopping. It was unimportant with its defrosting and leaking and lack of hygiene. It didn't seem to matter.
Only the numbness mattered now but she needed to be warmer.
They were all crouched in front of the fire when the doorbell rang...and rang....and rang. Each time the insistent finger held the press for longer and longer. She wanted to scream:
“JUST GO AWAY. I DON’T WANT ANYTHING YOU HAVE.” If it was the meter man he would leave a card. If it was the postman she could pick up, whatever was too big to be shoved through her letterbox, at some other time. She didn't want anything or anyone just at this moment.
She heard the door creak open.
Shit she hadn't locked it.
He filled the doorway with sunshine which soon turned to showers when he saw her white face with black rivers trickling down her cheeks. Her beautiful cheekbones.
“Christ. What’s wrong?”
He darted over to her, pushed two dogs out of the way and landed heavily next to her.
She nodded. She was, now he was back. Damnit. No. Stop. Please stop.
“ You'll never guess what just happened to me,” he said hoping to make her laugh. “Mimi just threw herself on to me and declared everlasting love. I said “No...no...NO” and then she wouldn't stop crying. I'm soaked!” he beamed happily down at her, wishing she’d let him hold her. He wanted to hold her, not Mimi, but he knew she was too hurt to let anyone else in. Not for now anyway. He just held on and hoped and did what he could for her.
“Hold me,” she thought. “Just sodding hold me,” but she knew he wouldn't. Wasn't interested. Not in ‘that’ way anyway.
And so they waited.
Waited until the day one of them made a slight slip and they both would realise that they had wasted time being scared. Lots of time. Too much time...