General Fiction posted August 5, 2017

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November breakup

November Rain

by apelle

November was cruel.

Outside the window, leaves were chased by the wind. From a leaden sky, hissing rain poured on skeletal oaks. The landscape was limned with a glossy-wet glow shed by an enslaved sun. He had no idea what time it was--if he should hurry, if he was still young or had grown old or was simply experiencing a twilight dream.

He lay in bed staring at the white ceiling--a white that was not so white--patched with gray dust and cobwebs. A burst of rain cast against the window broke the monotony. The room smelled of a young woman. Deodorant, hand cream, shampoo.

"I quit you."

"Just like that?"

"Yes, just like that."

She pulled a travel bag from the closet and crammed it. A towel--with chubby, hand-stitched tomcat--a red-and-white cotton bathrobe and four books she could not part with. Hurrying, as if afraid he'd talk her into staying.

"It makes no sense," he said.


"It makes no sense and that's all. Like before, you'll get cold at the bus stop and come back shivering."

"Not this time."

He sensed the decision in her trembling voice.

This is what two years together meant...knowing where and when you can be certain.

Over his head, her stuffed bear rested on a shelf. He never liked the bear--it had an enormous head and spooked him at night when the streetlight fell on it. She stretched to grab it--he tried to catch her in his kiss her? Stumbling, she fell on him--apologizing and springing up immediately.

She was ready--all dressed. The travel bag was closed and latched. Standing at the door, instead of looking at him, her gaze took in the furniture--window, floor lamp and television set--and the door going to the kitchen.

She pulled keys from her purse and set them on the table.

"Goodbye," she said.

Was she talking to him or the lamp?

"Goodbye," he said back to her.

He watched her slip through the door and close it carefully--quietly--to avoid bothering the old lady across the hall.

He jumped up and pressed his face to the window overlooking the street.

She knows I'm here. She knows. She'll look back. One more last time.

Pulling away from the stop, the bus made a screeching noise. It disappeared in autumn mist.

He sat down on the bed and looked around the room. His keys, his books, his more thrown-around mother of pearl brushes, perfume bottles with narrow spouts or hangers suspended from random pieces of furniture.

He threw the windows open wide. The incoming air was dour--as if tainted by memory. Two years of a shared life echoing with cheerful laughter and infused with melodramatic tension and sorrow. Two years of her life, his life, the ancient neighbor's life, the bed's life and the off-white ceiling's life.

It was hard to accept what he was already accepting.

Spasms in his chest...leaking eyes, stinging.

The room was deserted--cold and remote. He slammed the windows closed. Then, wrapped in her abandoned blanket, he fell into bed.

Later, with an empty soul, he got up, got dressed and left the room.

Go in this direction, then I know what time it is. I see the green numbers flashing on the car display.

November--maybe the last one ever--the start or end of autumn, depending on how you care to look at it.

He stood at the bus stop, but waved for the buses to pass by. Finally, he gave up. Shivering, he walked to his empty home.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by VMarguarite at

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