When he opened the door, she was standing there, crying. Mascara dribbling down her cheeks, pink glitter eyeshadow smeared away from her swollen eyes. His heart pained with sympathy—or was it empathy? There was a difference between the two—and there had been a time once when he would have swooped her right off the porch and hugged her tighter than his arms could manage somehow and let her stain his neck with tears and snot and spit and sadness.
But that was so long ago now.
“Did you need something?” He was cold. More freezing then ice, but even ice was capable of melting.
“I—” Her tongue was tripping over her heart, slipping on the ice that covered his driveway, struggling. “I don’t know how to live without you.”
He opened the door a little wider. “What do you want me to say to that?”
“I want you to hear me. Just for once, I want you to shut up and listen to what I have to say. I don’t know how to live without you. I feel like I left home all over again and no one taught me how to survive without my family and now I have to relearn everything I thought I knew about life. I forget to breathe sometimes. Forget to eat, close my eyes, sleep. I got so used to the sound of your breathing that I can’t fall asleep without it. You made me completely dependent on you, and I’m trying to learn how to walk without your arm around my shoulders or your hand holding mine, but it’s so much f***ing harder than I thought it would be.”
“You look fine to me.”
There was a time when he would have tried to reassure her that she was beautiful. But she was so ugly, standing there with snow in her hair and tears in her eyes. Vulnerable. If he poked her, she would crumble into dust. Fragile.
“I miss you,” she whispered. “I miss you, and I know I can’t. Do you know what it’s like to feel something you’re not supposed to?”
“Yes.” I was never supposed to fall in love with you.
“You know,” she said. “Scientists say that we only fall in love three times in our entire lives. I can’t believe I wasted one of my true loves on you.”
“Was it a waste though?”
Her shoes slipped on the porch as she turned around, called over her shoulder, “You were the worst mistake I ever made. They don’t have physical therapy for broken hearts. They can’t teach your heart how to love again.”
“It’s called a therapist, Vi,” he yelled back at her. “You need help. You need to be institutionalized. You’re sick.”
She didn’t disagree.