Morning came with the smell of bacon. The hiss and spit of oil finally waking her up; the birds screaming love songs just outside her window helped. Ava was still tired. From the kitchen came familiar singing. It was a quiet sound, one she used to love, one that made her smile as she sat up in bed. She found it hard to peel the covers from her body, regretting how she always put off turning on the heating when the weather got colder. Her cocoon of warmth would be gone soon.

His bad singing used to make her chuckle, it was charming and playful. Now she wished for a silent morning. The sound of his voice grated against her ears as Ava threw her legs over the side of the bed, reaching over to the table and grabbing her dressing-gown. She slipped the thin garment over her arms as she dragged her feet across the room, the bathroom attached just off to the side. When she looked in the mirror she grimaced. She hated the deep circles under her eyes, like bruises on her face. Lifting a hand, she pulled at her cheeks, her forehead. She hated the wrinkles she saw there. Grabbing her brush, she went about a routine she did so often, her movements were that of a programmed machine. Ava liked to think maybe she was just someone’s character in a game of ‘The Sims’, it would explain a lot about her.

Hair, teeth, make-up. Three things she did every morning before going out to the kitchen. At least she could look better than she felt.

As she walked down the stairs, she made a mental note that the hoovering needed doing. She did it last time, and the time before. He could do it this time. If he remembered. Ava cursed under her breath as her toes cracked, kicking against something. She looked down and cursed again, pieces of paper spilling from the folder like the guts spilling from a cut fish. He left his work on the floor again.

The kitchen smelt of burnt by the time she reached the doorway. She hovered there for a moment, watching his back as he moved about the kitchen. He dropped toast between his hands, air hissing between his teeth as he let it clutter onto the plates. Burnt again. When he turned around, her face automatically lit up, a smile gracing her mouth. Her eyes felt tired.

When she walked over to the kettle, she grabbed her mug, hesitated, and then grabbed his. Ava stood watching the water begin to bubble and the steam begin to rise. Her body jumped when arms slipped around her waist and pulled her back against his torso. Chuckled as he fluttered kisses on the back of her neck and smiled up at him as she twisted around in his arms. She muttered a returned good morning to him, kissing him fleetingly on the lips before the click of the kettle released her from his hold. She went about making tea for the both of them. Two sugars for her, half of one for him. She didn’t think half a sugar ever made a difference to the taste, but apparently it did. Once she didn’t bother with the half, and he liked it all the same.

By the time Ava was done, breakfast was on the table. Their kitchen was a small one, their table sitting against the wall in the middle. She placed the mugs down in their respective places, dragging the chair out from under the table and sitting herself down opposite him. Her knees touch against his. She fought the urge to shift. When Ava picked up the knife and fork, she stared down at the food on her plate. Burnt toast, bacon with no hint of crisp, lumpy beans, two fried eggs with a gloopy mess of bright orange yolk. Ava swallowed the sick feeling that rose in her throat and started with the bacon. She didn’t say anything as she ate, just half listened to him talk about something someone did at his work sometime. It was apparently something funny, so she made sure to laugh whenever it seemed appropriate. Ava was good at timing.

“It’s not as good as your breakfasts.” He said that every time he cooked, always wanting her to do it instead, but he woke up before she did. Ava smiled.

“I’ll get the hang of toast one of these days.” And eggs. “You make the best fried eggs.”

Ava placed her knife and fork neatly next to each other on her plate, her hands drifting back down to her lap. She watched him as he finished eating, the careless scrape of his cutlery making her back tense. She still didn’t say anything as she took both plates, putting them into the already full sink. She could smell the bin.

When she turned back around, he was there embracing her again. His hand rubbed gently against her back, his face pressed against the crook of her neck. Ava stared up at the ceiling, her arms hanging down by her side. He asked her what was wrong and she didn’t know how to respond. When she opened her mouth, she wasn’t sure what to say.

“I’m leaving you.”

Everything froze. His hands slowly left her back, his body pulling away and his face coming back into view. A look of horror spread across his expression. Ava felt relief on her shoulders. She didn’t hear his arguments and pleas as she left the kitchen. Didn’t have the energy to fight about her decision. Once the words had left her mouth that was all she could think of. Ava knew sorrow and grief would enter her heart later, but at that moment she felt relief. She was leaving him. She could go back home, because this never was.

When her stuff was packed and she was opening the door, that’s when he finally stopped her. The words fell from his mouth, a stream of begging’s and whys. All she could say when she stepped over the threshold was goodbye.

“I don’t love you anymore.”

It wasn’t the goodbye she imagined ever saying.


© Bethany Osguthorpe 2016

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Published by Bethany Osguthorpe