I took the phone off the hook. Not that anyone knows where we are. Past the flickering neon vacancy sign, the stars begin to fade with the light of a new day. I don’t remember the last time I saw the sunrise. Part of me hopes it won’t ever happen again.
When we met, love came faster than I knew it could. By the time I heard the first pull of the whistle, that train was already on top of me. All we had was each other, didn’t need anything else. I had her name tattooed next to mine on the inside of my arm like it was scratched into an old tree. Together forever. That’s what I thought, anyway.
Yesterday, she told me she doesn’t love me anymore. I know it’s to make leaving easier, but it hurt more than anything. I begged her to stab me right in the heart and put me out of my misery.
“No,” she said. “I can’t do it to you any more than you could to me.”
I laid next to her all night, as close as she’d let me, hoping it’s all been a bad dream. Now, she’s sitting on the end of the bed, staring at the door, holding herself the way I want to hold her. I have the urge to reach out, but she’s already too far away. There’s nothing else to do, so I ask her one last time. Why does she have to go?
“You know why,” she says. She raises a hand, maybe to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. Instead, the tips of her fingers rest on her temple. When her hand starts to shake, she pulls it away. “My memory… it’s getting worse.”
It’s part of the reason we left, why we’re running from our families and the place we grew up. I ask again about our plans. New Orleans in the fall. Valentine’s Day in the desert. California by spring, where the ocean’s as blue as her eyes.
She lowers her head. “By Valentine’s Day, I won’t even remember your name.”
Everything is broken. This whole time, our plan seemed so simple that I forgot about the cost, or maybe I can’t bring myself to admit that it’s true.
She stands and faces away from me with her hands in her pockets. “I have to be on my way.”
I tell her I wish I could change things and make it so she could stay. She grabs the handle of the battered old suitcase on her way to the door. Before heading out, she stops and glances over her shoulder. “If only wishing for it made it real,” she says, then walks out into the cold morning air.
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