She handed him her key to the front door. She wanted to ask if he was sure, if it was really better, both of them being alone? Starting over seemed impossible just then, learning to breathe again without the one arboreally absorbing the sighs and rambling words of the other.
Had this been her idea? Or was she the one being kicked out? She couldn’t remember as the dull, serrated edge of the key slid over her fingers into his palm. This had to have been his idea. His fingers closed over the key. His torn nails, swollen-knuckled fist, a tan line where the ring had been, pulled away with her key, her last permission to be a part of her old life, embedded into his hand.
“Okay. Well.” She rubbed the air in between her fingers and looked at the doorknob. His hands disappeared into his pockets as he rocked back on his heels.
“Yeah,” he replied.
She frowned. This was the reason why she was leaving. Or was asked to leave, whichever it was. There was a silence that had been stretched between them like a rubber band. When it finally broke, there’d been no snap, no release, no violent explosion of the words they’d held back from the other. There was just more silence, a realization that the words they’d suppressed for so long had evaporated. She’d been afraid of that once, years ago, if she stopped talking to him she’d forget why she ever had in the first place, that one day they’d wake up, not from a dream but from the restless pre-waking sleep that follows a dream, and barely remember that once they’d filled days with single conversations that were only ever punctuated with sex and the kind of ridiculous puns that only the truly in love can bear to tell and hear from one another.