Everything’s Gone but the Autumn Wind
Frantically looking for a tissue, she fumbled with the latch of the glove compartment. He always kept a few in there. Wiping her eyes, her sobs steadied, allowing her to regain her composure a little. Scared, confused, in utter disbelief—she was basically in shock. This had to be some sort of a horrible dream, it simply could not be happening.
“You know we have to do this…” He trailed off, his now puffy eyes filling with tears. “We have to…we argue so much…we can’t keep this up any more…”
She looked at him, into those confused puppy-eyes that she had always adored. Following the soft contours of his face, remembering the way things had once been, a miserable half-smile appeared on her lips. It was once like a dream; they had been so in love, so attached. They had been a perfect fairytale couple and the envy of all her friends. And they had been happy—or so she thought.
“I don’t think we really know what love is. Maybe they’re right, you know—we are too young” his voice was soft, trembling, “I’m sorry…”
She could feel her eyes widening with resentment. How could he? How could he throw it all away—after she had tried so, so hard to fix it, to make everything better. And yet there he sat, telling her that they didn’t know what love was. They both stared out the window, afraid of speaking. The empty parking lot blurred before her eyes, and she broke down. Tears began rolling freely down her face, and she hunched over, her face in her hands, bawling uncontrollably. He tried not to look at her, still staring blankly out the window.
She noticed herself playing with her necklace. Slowly, not to attract his attention, she opened the clasp, allowing it to drop quietly into her hand. Still warm from being pressed to her chest for several months, she held the large silver ring in her palm. Trembling, she reached for his hand. She wrapped his fingers gently around his class ring, trying not to catch his glance. He didn’t understand right away, but once he looked down at the ring, his quiet tears turned to heartbreaking sobs.
She couldn’t watch him cry like that. Her entire body began to shake violently, leaving her weak and breathless.
“I can’t do this…I can’t do this…” Her voice was a bit shrill, panicky. “I don’t know how to live without you, what am I supposed to do with myself?” She stared at him, quizzically. “After nearly two years…oh God…I’m going to miss you so much…I don’t want to lose you…I can’t lose you…” Her voice was pleading, unable to comprehend the magnitude of the situation.
The bawling started up again. He finally turned on the ignition. A familiar song was playing on the radio, and he quickly turned it off. “Everything’s going to remind me of you. Every song, everywhere we’ve gone together, movies…” He sounded genuinely frightened. She agreed with him through her tears, wishing that the nightmare would just end, that she would simply wake up and kiss him and make it all wonderful again. But she knew that wasn’t an option. He slowly shifted into drive and pulled out of the parking lot.
She paid no attention to the drive home, only to the lump growing in her throat. “This is really it”, she thought. “It’s over—we’re over. Just like that. He doesn’t love me anymore.” She felt like she was going to throw up. “But I’m still so in love with him…” They pulled on her driveway and her heart began to race. Could this really be the end?
Breaking the horrible silence, she whispered, asking him for a hug. He reached out, embracing her frail little body, holding her close while they both cried. It was a long hug, a much-needed one. But it hurt her more than anything possibly could, cutting through her already breaking heart.
“It’s going to be ok, I promise…we’ll be alright, we’ll be friends eventually” she reached for his hand, squeezing it reassuringly. The lump in her throat grew larger. Her words echoed through her mind—how could she say something like that right now? It wasn’t going to be fine and she knew it. She began to reach for the door handle, but he still held her other hand tightly. Neither one wanted to let go, knowing that whoever did would break the contact forever. And that would be the end of their beautiful relationship. The end of the fairytale, the end of the “us.” They had completed each other, helped each other immensely. Without him she would be incomplete, lost. She had no one to run to anymore—it had always been his arms that protected her and kept her warm, his shoulder that never failed to dry her tears, his kisses that made it all better. Now who would be there to protect her?
And so they sat there, in the still silence of the evening, afraid to speak, afraid to let go. She somehow mustered up the courage to look into his eyes, only for a moment, but it was enough. All of the pain, the fear, the agony—it was all there in his expression, in his sad green-gray eyes.
He suddenly lost all composure and began to bawl uncontrollably. That’s when his hand slipped out of hers, to dry his eyes. He couldn’t even bear look at her, to let her see him this way.
“Bye…” she whispered, her voice barely audible over the hum of the engine. And so she gently opened the door and slipped outside into the cold autumn evening. With one last longing look at the big orange truck in her driveway, she stepped inside her house, crying uncontrollably, knowing that the life she had known so well was now officially over. Knowing that the nightmare was truly real, and the hell she would surely go through was only just beginning…