They met in the early afternoon, and Bob knew it was bad. It was beyond bad; it was the end. She was there before he was, sitting on the same bench along the boardwalk where they had first met. Even though he was late, he waited and watched. He looked at her, seeing her again for the first time, and took the opportunity to cherish her once more before she was gone. She never turned to look for him. She never checked her watch or pulled out her phone. She remained a statue with arms folded and a gaze fixed on the small waves licking at the sand. The hot sun brought out the red in her dark hair. Bob had always loved her hair. On this fateful afternoon, this final afternoon, that dark crimson hair was still and dead in the absence of the breeze. He made his way to her.
When he sat, he offered no words and she did not give her typical smile of a greeting. He simply sat beside her and she simply sat in silence. She was wearing her big glasses, the Celebrity Glasses as Bob called them, to hide the bruise on her cheek. For the most part, they did the trick.
The conversation was direct and poignant. She never raised her voice or cried. There was never a need to bring up charges or accusations. Instead, she destroyed him with truth. She showed him exactly who he was through her unfiltered eyes. While the words crushed his heart, Bob almost felt a sense of transcendence. This girl, this woman, was showing him his world in perfect detail. That afternoon, beside the calm shore, Bob listened to an angel speak.
That angel said her words, then stood and left. There was no goodbye. No hug or tearful apology. Just foul, bitter truth.
Bob spent the remaining hours on the bench alone and in silence. He watched the ocean waves continue to struggle upon the shore while the sun turned his skin pink. He watched children play in the sand and build castles that were soon destroyed with triumphant stomps. He watched surfers arrive, survey the calm water with disgruntled comments, and go. Unleashed dogs chased after seagulls and called them cowards for taking flight. Endless couples drifted by, hand in hand. Some enjoyed the company of each other while more were surrounded by scattering children. The world stretched out into long shadows, and the sun turned the sky into a furnace of color. When the light was gone and the day done, Bob walked home.
In his kitchen, Bob faced his truths. They were huddled together like a glass fortress on top of his refrigerator. He took each bottle down and set it on the counter to form a long line. His enemies, his friends, all stood before him in silence. He sat on his uncomfortable dining chair and stared at the liquid waiting in each bottle, remembering the words of the angel. Eventually, he stood and grabbed the first bottle. The cap came off with a soft pop, and he held it over the drain of the kitchen sink. The bottle tipped, and as the golden fluid neared the rim, Bob slowed the motion to watch that bead of liquid push its edge just beyond the end of the glass. He looked closely, watching the magic of the hydrogen bond work its wonders. The drain waited below like an endless void.
He stood that way for several minutes.