In my mind she was shaking, visibly weak at the knees and clinging with both hands to my jacket lapels in a desperate attempt to keep herself steady. In my mind her eyes were wild with anguish, pleading me to stay with her with everything inside her, more vulnerable than I’d ever seen her before. I imagined the first fat tear drops welling in her magnificent, shining eyes and spilling chaotically onto her smooth cheeks, dripping pathetically off the tip of her nose and pooling around her mouth. I wished so much for her to cry, to bawl, with her mouth open like a child, wailing and spluttering and snorting. I wanted her this way not just because it would be a novel spectacle, but because I wanted to react with coldness, to avoid her eye contact or, better, to stare coolly back without sympathy. I would, and very slowly for effect, take her hands in mine and steady her, and watch the hope grow in those fragile eyes, only to let them go, watch her arms fall limply to her sides and then turn and walk from the room without a backwards glance. Perhaps I would say goodbye, in as brief and emotionless tone as possible, or perhaps I would say nothing at all. Either way, I would hear her crumple as I strolled down the corridor.
In reality I couldn’t look at her for fear I would break down. And I knew she was looking at me with one neat eyebrow raised, a mixture of slight disgust and pity contorting her perfectly angular features. I turned to face the window but I could hardly see beyond the glass; my eyes seemed to glaze over and I couldn’t find the energy to pull the world back into focus. There was a strange ringing in my head and I wondered if she was saying anything. I tried to picture her again, almost to her knees with guilt, but the picture wasn’t as strong as before. Then I heard her voice, and it almost made me wince it was so piercing, a burning blade slicing cleanly through the fog swirling in my brain.
“You can’t avoid everything you know,” she said. Her tone was somehow both condescending and aggressive, and I could tell she was annoyed and impatient with me. She wasn’t fond of people showing emotion in front of her; I knew a lot of people who called her heartless because of this, but I knew it was just because she wasn’t sure how to deal with it, and I knew she hated being unsure about anything. I took a deep breath, exhaling a sigh in response to try and calm myself down so I could talk with her again, but I still didn’t trust my voice not to crack if I tried to speak. “Look, I’m- I’m sorry.” It was the bluntest apology I’d ever heard, and it made a spark of anger flare up inside my gut. I turned to face her, as defiantly as I could, but her expression remained the same and I knew she would deem any attempt at aggression pathetic.
“You’re sorry? Well, fantastic,” I responded. As I had predicted, my voice cracked halfway through the last word and I felt my cheeks burn red with embarrassment at my failed attempt at sarcasm. Tears sprung to my eyes. I swallowed hard and blinked a few times, trying to keep my composure. I couldn’t fall apart in front of her. A dull ache started in my right shoulder; my whole body had been tensed for the past hour and I was exhausted. I didn’t know what else to say. There was a large part of me that desperately wanted her to leave so I could scream into a pillow or cry for a few hours or vent my frustration in any way I could so that I could do this properly and calmly, so that I could convince her to stay with me. Of course, if she left now she would never come back. We both knew this; it hung in the air around us, heavy on my shoulders, scratching at my wrists and lingering on the back of my neck.
“I’m not good for you,” she murmured, and her softened tone of voice was enough to make me look up into those deep, clear eyes, the colour of an ocean I longed to drown in. Her lips were slightly parted, and in my mind I crossed the space between us in two strides, pulled her close and kissed them. I imagined her body stiffening at first and then melting, her arms snaking around my body and grasping at my hair, kissing me back like she needed me, like she was so desperate for me to want her that she would try her hardest to become a part of me. Instead, she took a step back, a step closer to the door, a step away from me. “I’m not good for you,” she repeated, even more quietly than before, and as I watched her I could have sworn I saw a sparkle of a tear in her eye. What she said was true. She had hurt me, she had lied to me and used me and betrayed me in every way it is possible for one person to betray another. And still, I loved her.
“I love you,” I told her, and I knew my voice sounded childish and irritating. Her expression only shifted a fraction, to make way for an inch more pity. With those words I suddenly felt utterly helpless, and she knew it. She knew that all she had to do was walk forwards, stroke my cheek or maybe brush a stray hair from my face, and tell me she would stay, and I would be hers again, ready to be used and hurt and lied to all over again. I was ready for it. I licked my lips and tasted the hesitation that now seeped from her skin like perfume. I took one, tentative step forwards. She blinked.
“Goodbye,” she said, her ocean-deep eyes visibly becoming cold and invulnerable once more. She lingered for maybe a moment more. A moment in which I could have rushed to her and grabbed her hand, fallen to my knees and begged her to stay just one more moment. A moment in which I should have shouted that I hated her for what she’d done to me, for turning me into this weak, sniveling, whingeing idiot who depended on her so much that I would collapse completely without her. But the moment passed, and I watched as she turned and walked out of the door.