Departure (Flash Fiction)

It’s coming up on two decades now, almost, and I still remember that morning. Through good fortune and years of heavy drinking, most of the memories have faded, but the most important part, the painful part, remains.

Your eyes.

You drove me to the pier that morning. I only know that though because you were dropping me off, so I didn’t bother to drive. It was still dark and a thin fog was trying to sneak into the harbor. It made a cold morning even colder, getting out of bed that one last time together even more unbearable.

But I can only infer that knowledge because, fortunately, I don’t remember. I only remember your eyes.

And that hug you gave me when you buried your face into my chest. You didn’t cry, nor did I. At least, not like I thought we would. When you have weeks to prepare for such things, you start detaching ahead of time. In the movies they always show the two lovers living life to the fullest until the final moment, but that’s not really how it goes. Instead, as the day draws near, a dull tension builds. Appetites wane. Jokes aren’t as funny. Nothing good is ever on TV. You go places together, but you don’t really know why. It feels like you’re just wasting time. And it’s not that you want waste away those precious moments, but you just want to get it over with so you can get started on getting the other thing over with.

Getting the departure over with. Getting the absence over with. You’re ready to start waiting on getting your life back.

And now that I think about it, I guess I do remember some of that. But really, I only remember your eyes.

It wasn’t the heartbreak or the pain that left me feeling so empty. It wasn’t the helplessness, although that certainly didn’t help. It wasn’t your worries about my dying on some foreign shore. I worried about that too, but we both knew I could never tell you. I guess, really, it was the perfect reflection of everything I felt looking at me when I looked at you. The hollowness. The stoic, silent scream remaining inside. The accepting of something that must be gone through with because that’s the path chosen. The knowing that what’s about to happen will actually be done.

And I remember you letting go in an almost formal way. No one was there, strange enough. There was plenty of parking, and there was nothing to say. Looking at each other, we both knew. All that was left was to mark your calendar as day one and take them one at a time from there.

The hardest part was turning away and walking. It felt cold. Wrong. Like a violation, a disrespect toward you, toward us.

I don’t remember much but I do remember you left soon after. You didn’t stay to watch me go aboard. Why would you? I remember feeling a strange ache in my stomach that day as the mooring lines were drawn in and the ship got underway. I remember feeling lost. I remember a desperation to feel calm, to lose track of the days, to find the routine, to take each step one by one.

And I remember your eyes and I remember hating every second of it. All of it. And thankfully, after years of time erasing the pain and years of drinking wiping memories away, I don’t remember much, but I do remember all of it.

I remember hating every single second.

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