Cold breaths, cold touches, cold looks…
The last words she spoke to him creep into his head. He grips his drink harder.
Is that all this is to you?
He tosses the liquor down his throat in an uneasy swoop.
There you go. Drink more.
The glass shatters when it slams onto the countertop. Pieces slide to the floor, clattering like the jingle to an old song—their song.
Her depthless shadow stands at the stove as if she’s preparing him his nightly meal. Haven’t broken enough yet, Tod?
He knocks his stool aside, presses his lips into a scowl, and yanks the broom from the hall closet, remembering how his drunkenness caused an end to everything he loved.
Never thought I’d see you clean up your own mess.
With a ragged breath and harshness, he sweeps the glass into the dust pan, causing it to scatter across the kitchen floor. He closes his eyes, wipes the feverish sweat from his brow, and lets the broom fall. Reliving their final moments together, his poisoned death has him trapped in an eternal hell.
That’s what I thought. Make me clean up your mess instead.
His feet make the carpet indent with his sins as he grips the banister and climbs up to their bedroom. It’s dark. It’s cold. He messes with the thermostat.
Do you ever even listen to anything I say?
A thud sounds throughout the bedroom as his drunken body runs into her nightstand. He expects to hear more glass shatter. He expects to hear her shrill voice accusing him of breaking her favorite bottle of Chanel No. 5. Instead, there’s nothing.
Relieved, Tod climbs under the sheets and pushes her pillow off the bed. The clock reads 2 PM. He closes his eyes and feels the heat push through the vents, brushing his neck with a warm kiss.
Good night. Her voice, shrill and snide.
It starts as a low rumble at first. It catches in his throat and bubbles across his tongue—the taste bitter and scalding—erupting past his chattering teeth and muffles into oblivion. The vomit causes tears to prick the corner of his eyes, but he keeps them closed. In fear or in hatred, he cannot tell. He starts to choke, the bed shaking with him. Sheets fall to the floor like a pile of leftovers, and—as suddenly as it had began—the choking stops. He can’t die here.
“Tod?” She’s real in this moment to him. At least, he wants her to be.
He sits up. The vomit trickles down the side of his chin.
“Murphy called me. He said you skipped work again today.”
His brows furrow. This is always how their fights begin.
She doesn’t notice his disgusting state.
Neither does he.
“God, you can’t do anything right.”
The same anger that drove them apart grips him as he moves toward her. He towers over her like a beast. Red lines have etched themselves throughout his eyes, his cheeks have hollowed, and the vomit has dribbled down his neck and beneath his night shirt. He raises a hand unable to control himself.
His slap is a whoosh in a silent prison. The clock reads 2 PM. He’s thirsty. He trudges down the stairs, steps across the glass, and grabs the bottle of whiskey. He pours it into the remnants of his broken glass. His only glass. The whiskey pours onto the floor, mixing with the blood from his feet and the shattered pieces from his past—yet, the bottle remains full. He lies on his stomach and pushes the liquid into a puddle on the floor, slurping it into his mouth and gagging it down.
He spits out glass, blinking a few times before realizing there was never any alcohol. He chokes, grasping his throat and rolling over.
Her shadow watches him.
He barely manages it. It’s as if he can feel the glass tearing his esophagus and battling the acids of his stomach to their death. However, it’s not the only thing ripping on repeat. “I love you,” he says. It’s true. He does. He just can’t seem to pull himself from his self-abusive state long enough to show it.
You’ll never learn.
He reaches for her.
She walks away, grabs her pre-packed suitcase, and slams the door behind her.