A house is just bricks and mortar right? I mean that’s what everyone says.
Then how come as soon as I step into the hallway I feel an overwhelming sense of warmth, calm and familiarity- like old friends that have finally been reunited.
I shuffle across the delicate shag-pile that we had picked out together and gently run my fingertips across the designer wallpaper that HE had insisted we didn’t need but then bought for me anyway. My eyes scan every surface, allowing myself to drink in the intricate details I had loved so much – chips in the paint where the Christmas decorations had hung, stains on the wall from a food fight, scuffs on the couch where he wouldn’t take his shoes off even though I asked 5 times.
I’m so overcome with gazing at the small details of my old home that I almost forget HE is walking through the door behind me.
“Why don’t you go and get a shower” he says “there are still some old clothes of yours in the spare room”
I can’t make eye contact with him and I still can’t bring myself to talk, so instead I acknowledge his suggestion by slowly edging up the stairs towards our old bathroom.
It’s the silly things that set you off.
I had been in HIS presence for around an hour now and despite the overwhelming despair, the crippling heartache that had invaded me, I had managed to keep myself together. Admittedly I was an awkward shell of the witty, happy, energetic girl I used to be in HIS presence- but I wasn’t a complete emotional car crash.
Until I went into the spare room.
It was eerily similar to how I had left it, the whole room was. Except now a small plastic box stood in the corner of the room, filled with the few belongings I had expected- some gym clothes I had bought on impulse, an old dressing gown, 2 old DVD’s and a small Russian doll.
But he had also put in other items- he had filled the box with valentines cards I had made for him, love letters I had carefully constructed, tickets from concerts we had attended together. And endless photographs of US. Precious mantelpiece moments that would be regarded as mere home décor to guests, but to US they had always been more.
I hadn’t even realised I had sank to my knees. I fingered through pictures of a smiling, happy girl I didn’t even know anymore, sobbing furiously. How could he dispose of me, OF US, so flippantly? Is this all he thought of the time we shared, he didn’t even want to keep one image? He could just put them all in a box and forget about them. Like he forgot about me.
I am barley breathing when I hear the footsteps pacing along the hallway.
He looks from me to the pile of photos now strewn across the floor and he sinks down to the floor beside me and without saying a word he pulls me into him.
For the second time today I am hugging him.
“Do you love her?” I question through sobs
I pull away, wipe the tears from my face and gaze right into his eyes, I calm my breathing and will my resolve.
“Do you love her” I ask again determinedly.
He takes a moment, gazing around at photos of us holding hands on a carnival ride, smiling as we dip our toes into a stream, laughing as we wave the keys to a new home.
“Not like I love you” he finally said.