Every time I see a photo of her, it brings the same pang. It’s like they’re posted all over town, on every wall, in every shop. Relentless reminders all around.
God, I miss her. I miss her eyes. I miss the way her hair smelled. I miss the way we used to touch feet as we went to sleep. I miss the sweetness of her voice, the softness of her hands. I miss the way we would just sit around all day, watching TV together and talking.
To be honest, at the start of our relationship, it was mostly me doing the talking, I get carried away sometimes when I’m nervous. But after a while she stopped being so shy and opened up; told me all about her friends and her family, her hopes and dreams, her whole life. She was enthralling. She fascinated me, excited me, made me want to be a part of it all.
It feels like she’s still with me, like her ghost is following me everywhere I go. When I sit eating my dinner I see her sat across from me, giving me that trademark look she had whilst I push my food around my plate. As I drift off to sleep, I feel her next to me, breathing softly, wrapped up warm.
There are pieces of her everywhere. Every now and then I discover one, uncover it like a relic of a distant, but not forgotten, time. Her glasses, hidden under one of the chests of drawers in what used to be our room. The pants she was wearing when we first got together, excavated from the layers of clothes in the corner. The note she wrote. I have to pretend it was written for me, or risk paranoia overwhelming me, darkening my thoughts.
I really thought she was the one that would last. We felt so good together. She made me so happy and I thought I made her happy too. I was always trying to do little things for her; bringing her little trinkets that I thought she would like when I got home, cooking her dinner, washing her in the bath by candlelight. True romance.
But, honestly, she always had this air of sadness about her. I could never quite put my finger on it. I misdirected it to other things, that she was unhappy at work or that she felt underappreciated by her friends. Maybe that she was just bored, she did spend a lot of time inside, after all.
I had never dreamt that I was the problem. Why would I when she spent our whole time together telling me how great I was? She was always saying I was a good person and that she knew I didn’t want to hurt her.
And I didn’t, of course. I just wanted to be with her.
She had taken to crying a lot towards the end. I would wake up and find she had slept little, probably not helped by my snoring all night right next to her, nocturnal buffoon that I am.
She became anxious, jittery, jumping at the smallest provocation. Our love making had gone from animalistic, hot and heavy, to dull, lifeless; it was like she was just lying there, waiting for me to finish.
She started taking her unhappiness out on me too, being short with me, unkind. Her once loving eyes were now mostly glazed over with indifference, sometimes burning in anger, or disgust.
Then it came, the end, as abrupt and essential as the start. I arrived home one evening to find her sat on the bed, eyes pregnant with tears. She was all folded up, like a spider when you hold a lit match to it. I had gone to sit with her, to ask what was wrong. I remember how she had recoiled when I sat next to her.
‘Let me go,’ she had implored, a quaver in her voice as she held back the tears, ‘please, you just have to let me go.’ She had bowed her head, allowing the tears to cascade out in rhythmic sobs as she desperately tried to catch her breath.
I knew then that things were over. She had had enough of me. I was confused, hurt. I thought I’d done everything right this time, that I’d been the perfect partner. It was like there was a hole in my chest sinking into oblivion, the darkness pouring down, hollowing me out. I crumpled, sank to my knees before her on the bed.
Of course, I knew what I had to do. I had to set her free. So, I did what any gentleman would do, I released her from my world and put her down in the darkness with the others.
I can still see her when I like, but every time I venture down there, she looks slightly different, less like herself. Time is cruel and all beauty fades, though never so rapidly as down there in the black. At least she has company now, even if they are six feet below her, covered in concrete.
Soon I’ll have to bury her deep too if I’m ever to find someone new. I’ll have to dredge up the failures of old and place her among them, fill the hole with earth and start again.
I understand all those pictures of her around town and on the news in a whole new light now, she is missing. Missing from my life, missing out on what we could have had if she’d given me the chance.
But I am no quitter. On to the next one. Hopefully this one will be the one to last, the one that sticks. The one that doesn’t want to escape. The one that I won’t have to bury with the rest.