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Sheila Manor woke up with sleep in her eyes. She wiped it away, and stretched her arms out beside her, groaning a bit. Sun streamed through the slats in her white blinds, and the airy curtains she finally dressed her windows in last week swayed lightly. She inwardly rolled her eyes. Her mother was right: the curtains did make everything look better.

I need a shave, she thought absentmindedly as she pushed her legs out to the side, her limbs meeting nothing but air.

“Jeff?” She murmured, looking up to see her boyfriend standing in front of the bed frozen. He was fully dressed and carrying the leather suitcase she had bought for him two months ago.

She pushed herself up a bit, leaning on her elbows, and pushed her smooth dark hairs out of her face. “Jeff?” She repeated.

He was blushing. Blushing. Jeff never blushed. He wasn’t the most confident guy in the room, but he had an easy swagger and this irresistible quality that made it easy for him to shrug off jokes, to laugh at himself and completely avoid embarrassment.

“Why are you blushing?” Sheila pulled herself upright, glaring at him.

“Excuse me?”
“You’re blushing, Jeff. Why the he** are you blushing?”
He shook his head, his face the color of a ripe strawberry. “I’m-I-I’m not.”
“And why are you dressed? You told me you had off.” Sheila felt a slight sense of dread invade her stomach and make it churn. Not as bad as the morning before you get a cavity filled, but definitely worse than forgetting to pay your electricity bill on a hot July night.

“I made pancakes.” He said finally.
Sheila examined his sparkling brown eyes and dusty brown hair for a sign of what was to come. “Pancakes?”
“Yes, pancakes. I thought we could talk. Talk about-“
“Talk about what?”
“Us. Well, everything. What happened yesterday.”
Sheila pulled the blankets off of herself, and, realizing she was wearing just a pair of her silky underwear, she pulled on a pair of shorts that lay beside the bed. “We talked. I thought we decided.”
“Decided what? You talked, or rather, yelled. Then the conversation was over and I didn’t even get a word in.”
“Oh, right, Jeff. I’m always the villain!”
“No,” he said sharply, and put down his briefcase. He crossed his arms. “Sheila-“
“Why are you dressed?” She had tears in her eyes, and she swiped at them angrily.
He sighed. “I wanted to go to work, wrap my head around things. After everything, after the doctor, I-“
“You told me you were off,” she spat, and a few hot tears dipped over the curve of her eyelid, staining her cheeks.
“Sheila, what the he** was I supposed to do? I did everything I was supposed to. I said we could go on vacation, relax for a couple of weeks; I made you pancakes. What am I supposed to do, sit here in this God forsaken house and wait? Just wait for it to-to stop?”
Seemingly without noticing it, she wrapped her arm around her stomach tightly. When his eyes scanned her accusingly, she let it drop. She spoke quietly. “That’s what I’m doing.”
He let his head drop to the ground. “Let’s go have some pancakes,” he spoke to the floor. Sheila didn’t respond, and his words hung heavy in the air, damp and palpable, like an early morning fog. He looked up, and his dark eyes met hers and broke, shattered into a million pieces. He made a gasping sound, as if words were trapped in his throat, choking him.

He took a step towards Sheila, as if to reach out to her. But, she stepped back and pointed a finger at him, she shouted at him to leave, her words lost in the heavy grief wrapping around them, tight and unwavering.
He answered back with silent lips, picking up his suitcase and giving a cursory glance to the floor before opening the door, stepping out, and shutting it quietly.




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