Sometimes I wonder what would have become of us if we’d stayed together.
There she stood with her new Jean Shrimpton look, soaked through after a surprise shower caught us during at stroll around Windermere.
‘I can’t do it anymore,’ she said. One boot stained with mud, the other incongruently free.
‘Do what?’ I said.
‘This.’ She waved her hand before freeing her eye of clumped mascara.
‘We don’t have to, we’ve walked enough. Let’s just go back to the cottage,’ I said.
‘You see? That’s what I mean,’ she said.
I didn’t know what she meant. All I could see was the mist rising as the rain subsided, cloaking everything in a shroud of beauty that seemed perfect for our moment together.
‘It’s not the cottage,’ she said after a momentary silence.
She flicked mud from her stained boot and looked on impatiently as I wound my watch.
‘We could go for a hotel next time,’ I said.
‘That wouldn’t help,’ she said. ‘I’m not sure there should be a next time.’
‘We don’t have to come back here,’ I said.
‘I’m going to scream,’ she said. And screamed.
I would have said it took me by surprise but she did warn me, so I replaced surprise with consternation.
‘What was that for?’ I said trying to sound annoyed. But how could I be annoyed at that face, shapeless yet sculptured; how could I begrudge that mind, mercurial yet consistent; how could I not love that body, defined and yet anonymous?
‘You don’t know do you?’ she said.
‘How could you?’
‘How could I what?’
‘Not know. How could you not know? Are you really that blind?’ she said.
I questioned myself. Was I blind? If so what to? ‘I don’t know,’ I said. Hoping that would be the end of that. ‘Shall we go?’ I said offering her my arm which she scorned with exaggeration that made me chuckle involuntarily.
‘I want a divorce!’ she said.
‘But we’re not married.’
‘You know what I mean!’
‘I don’t,’ I said. ‘Really, I don’t. I didn’t know you felt like this.’ I waved my hand mirroring the way she waved at the things that annoyed her — I was getting the feeling they were the same things.
‘I want to call off the wedding. Now,’ she said.
‘But we’re not even engaged.’
‘Not yet, but you were going to propose. I know you, I can read your mind. I don’t want it. Not anymore.’
‘Well, I’m happy that you did want it. So what do we do now?’ I said.
‘I don’t know. I’m sorry. I really am. But I can’t.’
There she was again, consistently mercurial. Our love was like quantum love, the more we tried to define and classify it the more unpredictable its direction became.
‘I love you,’ I said.
‘I know you do,’ she said, ‘that’s the problem.’
The rest of the days spent at the cottage were uncomfortable for many reasons, most of all because I slept on the couch. Its cushions too soft for my back made the drive home even more difficult. Jenny however had decided to take the train. After a week her things were packed and we said our last goodbyes.
‘This is it then,’ she said.
‘I guess it is, so?’
‘So? It’s the end. I’m still sorry you know?’
‘I know,’ I said, ‘I’m sorry too, but it doesn’t have to be the end of everything.’
‘I think it does.’
‘Maybe, we can catch up at some stage.’
‘I don’t think so,’ she said. She picked up her bags and walked across the hallway.
‘In a few months?’
‘No!’ she said without looking back.
‘Years then?’ I said.
She shook her head, the front door slammed, punctuating her statement.
© 2016 Occasional Dreams