Hunter moved through the door to see her standing in the mirror looking at herself with something like despair. She reached for the soap and washed her hands. He watched her, thin browned arms and slender fingers moving slowly, drying against the towel, her hair falling down the side of her face. He moved from the room before she looked up at him. He sat on the edge of the bed and watched cars moving down the boulevard from the window, listening to the apartment building filtered sounds of the city. She came in and stood at the door, leaning against the doorjamb, her fingers gripping the wood. She sat down next to him and watched the side of his face, the sadness there. Everything they had to say they already knew, but there was the danger of explosivity when it came into the air. She felt something like love for him still, but in the war within her heart, he had already been categorized as enemy, and there was no turning back from her duty now. She looked out the window too and listened to the words she had prepared in her mind. Hunter, she said.
Stop it, he said. Stop it. Just go.
She started to say something and then he looked at her and shouted. Leave now. Get your shit and get the fuck out of my life. She got up and gathered her things from the drawers as he continued to sit and look out the window, his hands clasping his knees. Bitch, bitch, bitch, he thought. He knew even as anger flooded his mind that he would miss her the minute she walked out the door. He didn’t want to be left like this, with angerness and bitterness filling up the space. He stood up, clenching and unclenching his jaw. Marcela, he said. She continued to gather up her things, folding her clothes with a quiet, controlled calm. Marcela, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I couldn’t change for you. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be who you needed me to be. I’m sorry that it has to be this way. She stopped and regarded him levelly, saying nothing, her hands at her sides. He stepped forward.
You know that you have been nothing but distant to me, she said. This is not what I had been prepared to tell you. I was going to tell you that I had found another and that he was good to me and that I was leaving. But what is really true is that you have shut me out of your life. You have shut me out of your life and you have been waiting for me to leave. So now I am leaving. This is what you want me to do. I tried. I have tried with my heart for you, and you have left me standing here with my love in the air, falling to pieces. I will not destroy myself for you.
He listened to this, and stood reeling in the silence, letting all of the hurt penetrate everywhere, the true nature of their battle coming into consciousness. I would never ask you to do that for me, he whispered. He grasped at the table by his side for support. He could not believe in this version of himself so monstrous.
Marcela, he said, lurching as if stricken. Forgive me if I have been far from you. I know that it is over, but I don’t want you to go thinking that I have not loved you. I loved you, but I did not understand it, and I did not know how to show it. Every morning waking up to your dark waiting eyes, your eyes with the questions in them, waiting. I did not know how to answer. I am sorry. For what it is worth I loved you and I love you still. I don’t want you to hate me when you think of me. Please forgive me.
I have already forgiven you, she said. I tried hating you. But what use is it in ruining my heart?
They stood looking at each other, with nothing left to say. They touched each other like frightened children, and hugged each other to themselves in a silence that was deafening. A dog barked in the dusk. Hunter clutched his fingers around her shoulder blades. She had one hand on his neck and the other on his lower back, a heat interlocking. And it was now that the tears came. They pulled back and looked into each other’s flooding eyes. They kissed one last time and hugged again but now it was over. He left the room and walked into the kitchen and looked blindly into the refrigerator. She packed up the rest of her things and went into the bathroom and blew her nose and washed her hands again and came into the kitchen and said goodbye. They said that they would keep in touch. Hunter knew that he would not speak to her again.