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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author

By ralst


I keep waiting for her to appear. Night after night spent sitting in front of the television screen, unable to concentrate lest I miss the telltale knocking at my door. The swaying of the trees outside my apartment brushes leaves against the fence and for a moment I'm convinced their sound is her sound; her soft tread on the stairs, her gentle breath fighting against the humidity, the barely audible hum as she thinks of other things. But, no matter how many times I rush to the door, it's only ever the trees.

The nights she spent here I was always half convinced she'd disappear come morning. So when morning came and she was still in my bed, I started to think about a future. Not that any kind of future would have been easy; nothing with Sara ever was. Yet each morning it became just that little bit easier to believe she cared for me. Until, finally, when I'd accepted her continued presence, I turned over to say my 'good morning' only to discover she wasn't there.

Hours later we passed in the hallways at work, but she gave no indication of her desertion. I was just another body to navigate around, the questions half formed on my lips of little concern, as she immersed herself back in her work.

It didn't matter. Work was work and she'd always tried her damnedest to make sure her personal life didn't intrude. She failed more than she succeeded but I took comfort in the knowledge that things would be different after her shift.

That was the first night I waited. First, outside the lab, my hands chilled and my heart beating a tattoo inside my chest every time the doors opened. Then inside my apartment, the heat raised but the chill still ever present. She didn't come. The next night I finished work early and took up my vigil beside her car. If I'd seen someone else lurking as I was, I'm sure I'd have sent them on their way with a warning about stalking. I just waited.

She left with him.

As I straightened, prepared to call a greeting, I saw her hand brush his. It was nothing really, a simple gesture, but with it I knew things had changed. I retreated, back behind the rows of cars, praying that they'd say their normal goodbyes and be on their separate ways.

My prayers weren't answered.

I abandoned my hiding place as they drove out of the parking lot, my eyes meeting Sara's as she signalled her turn. I don't know what I expected; guilt, shame or excuses, but what I saw in her eyes was indifference. I guess I'd been right that first night; I was little more than a welcoming body, an eager participant in her physical needs.

After that I tried to talk to her. Perhaps it was the masochist in me but I needed to know what I'd meant to her. If I'd meant anything. But each time I tried she would rebuff me, her face rigid and her damn indifference worn like a cloak. I think I started to hate her then, but still I wait, a tiny part of me convinced that what we had must have meant something.

That I must mean something.

The End

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