Steel gray eyes reflected back, streaks of white in his hair, a tale of how many years we’d been together. Perfectly matched with the light drizzle outside, lonely drops clung to the window in desperation.
I shifted in the Ethan Allen dining chair, crossed my legs for the third time in a minute. Could I really do this? Was this really what I wanted? Soft hands scrubbed over my face and I sucked the tears back inside. Again.
Yes, Kate. This is what you want. It’s been far too long already.
“Please know, this is hard for me. Honestly, I don’t even know how we got here. It’s like the past two years haven’t even happened. Like I blinked and they were gone. Two people, two different worlds. Two separate lives.”
Pain caught in my throat and I fought to swallow it away. You can do this, Kate. Don’t back down.
His hands were manicured, tanned, gently clasped together on his lap.
A thousand deadly daggers stabbed my belly all at once. “It’s just… I can’t do this anymore. I need to be free. It’s over, Matthew. It’s been over. There’s no going back, only forward. And that’s what I’ve got to do. For me. For the kids. I can’t go on like this any longer.
“Please understand. I love you. I always have and I always will but –“
A sob devoured the rest of my words. Why was this so hard? People did this every single day. Why couldn’t I?
I looked back to him. He was the same Matthew I’d known for twenty-two years. The guy I met in high school, the one who’d swept me off my feet and never let go, even when we’d had my cancer scare, five years prior.
Father of my children and lover of my soul.
My eyes squeezed tight, an attempt to battle the vice across my chest, the one that pressed and pulled and dragged me to the pits of hell. Why? Why was this my life?
A gentle stubble covered his jaw, fine lines kissed the corners of his eyes, sloped across his forehead. We were older. Wiser. So much had happened. Things that couldn’t be reversed or taken back. Life had changed.
“You know I didn’t want this. Of course I didn’t. It’s the last thing I ever wanted for us. But we can’t change what’s happened, Matt. What’s done is done. And I have to live with that. I need to move on.” Pause. “It’s time I moved on, sweetheart.”
My lower lip trembled and I caught it between my teeth before the ache spilled out. “I love you, Matthew. Always and forever.”
I kissed the picture of my deceased husband and set it softly in the drawer. It was time to move on.
It was time to live.
© Laura L. Zimmerman 2016