I’m staring at the clock. As I watch, time ticks by so slowly, minutes feeling like hours. Moving in a sloth-like manner. It must be just my perception. The clock is working just fine. When I look away, the hours seem to fly by. I don’t know why I’m still staring. She left hours ago. The minutes are dragging, extending my pain. She is indeed gone. The hours hurtling towards midnight. Towards tomorrow. Then she will be gone a day. Today will be yesterday. I need it to be fresh, so I can say I saw her today. I need the minutes to go by more quickly. Then it will be bed time. I will no longer have to stare at this bloody clock. I fear I will go mad. Or split in two, in an agony of tears, flowing such as they will, never stopping. Who am I kidding anyway? I will not sleep tonight.
Somehow, it is nearly midnight. It has been eight hours since she left. I have not eaten since. I have not talked to anyone. Not checked my phone, my email, Facebook. Nothing. I do not want to let the outside in. The outside is real, and I cannot let her being gone, be real. That would be too much. I go upstairs, my legs feeling leaden with each step. It is surprising how our bodies respond to mental anguish, with physical symptoms. I feel like I have gone ten rounds with Ali or Tyson. My head is pounding, my legs feel both heavy and trembling. I feel sick to my stomach. Tired to the core. My arms feel like they will float away, in such contrast to the rest of me. My eyes water and ache. I have not cried for her. I know if I start I will never stop.
When she first walked out the door, suitcase in hand, I didn’t really understand what had happened. I could not fathom that we had become you and I. Two separates, that had made a whole for so long. But for months now we had not been we. She had lied, and cheated, and hidden a whole other life from me. She was in love with someone else, she said. It was not me, but her. We had grown apart. I was a great man, who would love and be loved again. I could barely hear any of it, as she made her excuses. We had lived what felt like a lifetime together. An amazing one. Mutual confidants. Entwined lovers. I didn’t get it. I don’t get it.
She told me she would come back for the rest of her things soon. I want to burn her clothes. I want to hold them as I sleep or weep. To smell them, because then she is not all gone. Part of her remains. I am angry, but I cannot connect with that now. Primarily, I am broken. I am too fragile to feel anything else. I want to call someone: someone who can help me put some of my pieces back together. I cannot stand the idea of anyone being near me. I want to numb the pain, in a drunken haze. I want to take several of my sleeping pills, not to die, but to cease thought. For a while. For the night. But no. I will not take anything tonight. In a masochistic fog, I relish the pain. It makes me a victim, which I love and hate. I have a right to be the one whom wrong was done to. I will wallow if I want. No one can take that from me. It is the only thing I feel in control of this moment.
I lie on the bed, fully dressed, on top of the covers. She and I used to sleep naked together. Arms over bodies. Legs sometimes entwined. Used to. It was only last night. How could we lie naked together then, and now be two separate beings, apart? Oh God. How could we have been an us, for six months, while she was an us with him too. Him who I do not know. Who I do not want to know. Who I need to see. To see what makes him good, better, best, for her. Who I hate with every fiber of my being. Who I know is not to blame for this. It is me. It is her. Who is it? I am confused and tired. I am alive, with all senses on alert.
I stare up at the ceiling, watching the shadows from the moon through the trees. The wind outside is howling. The trees swaying forcefully. We, us, she and I, used to watch the ceiling on nights like this, and make up stories, about things we saw in the shadows. A smile creeps onto my face with the memory, before I can stop it. I berate myself. How could I smile at a time like this? I try to play the game alone. Anything to occupy my mind. It is not fun alone. It is not special. It is no longer an our thing. I turn my head away. Oh God. There’s the clock. A different clock, but still the clock. This one has bright red numbers instead of moving hands. It blares to wake us, no, wake me, in the morning. The other clock just ticks in quite whispers (sick, cock, sick, cock, sick, cock) on the kitchen wall. She is the one who gave a voice to our clock. She is always crude. I enjoy that about her. Should I say was crude? She is still alive, so is she an is? But she is no longer in my life, in this house, part of our us. It keeps coming back to that.
The red number clock is piercing my vision. She bought it for me last Christmas. My old one was working just fine. She bought it as a gag gift. It has ridulously large numbers. We laughed when I first plugged it in, and both promptly fell in love with it. We. Love. In the same sentence. I feel a punch to my stomach. I have been staring at our clock for too long. It’s numbers burning my eyes, and making tears form. That might leave me in danger of cracking. Producing tears of emotion. I cannot let that happen. Once again, I worry about giving up control once I start. I turn my head back towards the ceiling. The imprint of the numbers is up there. Green outlines. 01:08. I did not notice four zeros. The start of tomorrow. Today becoming yesterday. Tomorrow becoming today. How did that happen? For sixty eight whole minutes, I did not know she had left yesterday.
I burst into tears. Finally releasing what feels like days and days worth of suffering and pain, pouring out of my core. It has only been a matter of hours, but it has been a lifetime. When you are broken in two, do you cry for the length of time since it has happened, or for all the years that led up to this? It does not matter. My sobbing seems to be more than my lifetime’s worth. It feels like an enternity of pain, shame, fear, leaking out of me. I am unable to capture it. I don’t want the feelings to go. Then I will be empty. Maybe empty is good. Then I will not hurt. Empty is good. Yes. Let me cry until I am empty.
A wail escapes my mouth. I cannot hold it in. All the air explodes out of my lungs to create the sound. I feel a dull heaviness in my chest. How am I supposed to keep breathing? I do not understand. How do people survive this torture? I now understand what it means to die of a broken heart. This is what it feels like. Will I die? Is that what will happen? I know that is not going to happen. I am going to feel this pain. Day after day. Logically, I know, eventually, I will heal. Very slowly, but I will get there. As I have these thoughts, the sobbing that is racking my entire body, tells me otherwise. I know my brain is right, but my heart is talking louder. It is thumping faster, and roaring, my pulse, rapidly whooshing in my ears. It is almost three o’clock.
I fight the urge to call her, to text, to anything. I need to hear her voice. She is who I turn to when things are tough. Now I do not have a she anymore. Who am I supposed to call? Does a grown man call his mother when his fiancé dumps him? Is that normal? Do I care what is normal? I know if I call, my mother will try to help. I cannot bear that. I love her dearly, but I have not cried to her in thirty years. I do not know how to ask for help. Not from anyone. Anyone but her. She who shall not be named. Is this the way it will always be? I will always try to turn to her, only to experience the wrenching pain of realization, that she is past tense, over, and over, and over. I see her engagement ring on the bedside table. Oh God. Why couldn’t she take it? Did she really think I would want it? After this? Or is she so glad to be rid of me, that she left her last reminder of me behind, not caring that it would kill me? I can’t stand the thought, that might be her reason. It is too terrible to contemplate.
I pick up the ring, thinking I feel it burn my skin. Of course it is not burning. I expel a forceful bawl, that is a marriage of crying and laughing. Oh God. A marriage. We hadn’t set a date. Is that why? Is it my fault? Is that why she left? Stop. Stop. Stop. I want to fling the stupid thing across the room. Forcefully. To give some credence to my emotions. Instead I simply open up the table drawer, and place it inside. Inside her table, not mine. I wonder if I will ever open that drawer again. I suppose I cannot keep our bedroom a shrine. Oh God. My bedroom. Not our bedroom. Will this ever stop?
I decide to take a sleeping pill after all. This is too grueling. I can no longer take it. I turn off the light, but leave the curtains open. The trees on the ceiling are comforting, even though they remind me of her. I will not pretend that she will not be in my thoughts, by some magic act of closing the curtains. Even as I start feeling groggy, my ruminating on today’s events (no not today’s, yesterday’s) are keeping me wide awake. In the end I close the curtains, to see if that might help. Lying there, not moving, I stare at the now red ceiling. The clock seemed so funny a few months ago. Now its huge red numbers illuminate the room, taunting me. It is four in the morning.
I grab my pills from my side table (I guess both tables are mine now), and pour two into my hand. I have never taken three before. A couple of times when I was having trouble sleeping, I took two, and it knocked me out, until well into the next morning. Good. I don’t care. I’m sure it won’t kill me. Hopefully I will sleep. And not wake up for hours.
I don’t know where to lie. Each thought feels like a completely new one, never having been conceived of before. Everything I feel, and do, relates to her not being here. Do I lie on my side? In the middle? Her side, so I can smell her all the more? Surely that will breed more torture. It feels odd lying on only half the bed, when it is empty except for me. I am not ready to move over. The middle accepts her absence. When she is away for work, (Is? Fuck. Fuck Fuck. Was.) I would lie in the middle. She is not away for work. She will never be away from work. Not for me at least. That is his decision now. Her new me. He will decide where he sleeps in their bed. Once again, I realize the futility of my thinking. If I want, I can keep bringing everything back to her, to them.
I try to think about anything else: count sheep; name all the States and State Capitals. Montgomery, Alabama. Juneau, Alaska. Phoenix, Arizona. Little Rock… And on, and on. I get to the end too quickly. What now? I am feeling slightly more groggy, but the pills are taking too long to kick in. I get out of bed, and head back downstairs. Opening the refridgerator, I take out a Corona. Usually I drink it with a lime, but I don’t care. Who gives a shit about a stupid wedge of lime? I’m just chasing oblivion. I notice all the food in there that’s hers. You would think after three years of living together, we would share food. She is a vegan, and I am a steak man. I tried to be a vegan for two days once, and never again. Should I go through the food now? Throw away her, with each item I put in the trash? No. I will drink my beer, and deal with all that tomorrow. One beer wont hurt. That should be fine with the pills. I down it in a few massive gulps, and immediately head for the refrigerator again. Another beer, and another, and another. Eventually after seven or eight beers I feel like I will pass out. I need to get upstairs before that happens. Everything is foggy now.
I stumble along the hall, crawling upstairs, and somehow managing to get to bed in one piece. The room is spinning. I try to see what time it is, but the clock, and the stupid red numbers, are swimming. I pick up the clock, and squint, and close alternating eyes, until I eventually see it is nearly six in the morning. Good. Maybe I’ll sleep for half of tomorrow. I try to put the clock back on the table, but it tumbles to the floor. Who gives a shit? Not me. I close my eyes, and fade out within minutes.
The first thing I feel is my pounding head, then my stomach that’s clenching, ready to spew its contents. Oh God. I must have gone crazy last night. I can’t remember much. What time is it? The clock is not on the side table. The room is spinning again, but not from drunkenness, from the worst hang-over I have ever had. I look in my pill bottle, and there are three gone. Oh shit. Judging from how I feel, I had a huge amount of beer. I am probably lucky to be alive. I swing my legs over the side of the bed. My head brings a whole new level of ache to my soul. God help me. I try standing, and manage it somewhat, but sway, and have to catch myself on the wall. I notice the clock on the floor, out of the corner of my eye. I pick it up. It is 16:13. How on earth is it so late? I wonder if I should call my love at work. Maybe she can help me piece together last night.
Oh God. Oh fuck. Please no. Oh God, no. It all rushes back to me. She is not here. Will never be here. I am alone. I have to run to the bathroom and throw up. It feels like a release. Ridding myself of her. I know it is largely from the beer, but my heart feels a purging. I brush my teeth, head downstairs for water. The minute I have rinsed my mouth, it all comes back. There was no purging. I am still here. And I am destroyed.