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After She Left
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After She Left
When a relationship ends and partners go their separate ways, the memory of the lost love begins to fade. The half of the brain they once occupied is gradually reclaimed so a person returns to being a whole individual...sadly, that is not so for our character. His loss comes after she leaves. The untouchable things start to fade like her laughter, her scent. He finds solace in making her lunches and wearing her jumper, trying to continue as if she was still with him.
But he soon finds the lunches are being eaten and her laughter has returned to the small apartment they once shared. Has she returned or is it just his mind playing a terrible trick?
Paul Leighland MacLaine
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|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (15)
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Ash Bester - The Devil May Care (Novels) Here are the first two chapters of my crime novel. I am looking for feedback and motivation to get on with it. Ash Bester, war hero, boxer and Melbourne private detective in 1953, is about to fall vi... [5,188 words] [Crime]
Cancer Of The Circumstance (Short Stories) When a man meets a friend in the street, a long lost friend, he sees that he is dying of cancer. The signs are all there, he is thin, his eyes have dimmed from their once brilliant blue and his hands ... [1,424 words] [Mystery]
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Especially Brilliance (Short Stories) A little bit of heaven has just come back to earth [2,340 words] [Spiritual]
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After She Left
Paul Leighland MacLaine
after she left
a short story from the collection:
the tales of socrates dancing
paul leighland maclaine
...and only after she left did he notice things start to go missing. The first had been her laugh. The light sounds that had at one time floated freely through the house were gone. Much had now, simply gone.
One morning he could have sworn he’d heard her laughter in the bedroom. He’d raced in, charging through the door, arms outstretched...
but it had been empty.
He thought that on occasion he might be going mad. He was never completely comfortable any more, never cock-sure like he’d once been. It seemed that she was following him from room to room, observing his day-to-day routines.
He didn’t know quite why or was able to pin-point when his self-confidence departed but, little by little, minute by hour, it slowly drained and he slipped into a world of safe repetition, checking things that didn’t need checking and searching the rooms for things that were no longer there.
Next to go had been her smell. He’d undressed for bed, pulled back the floral covers they’d spent a day in purchasing and dropped his head to the pillow. The silent rush of air that had once filled his nostrils with her scent now seemed faded.
He pressed his face harder into the soft, downy sacks, inhaling deeply, but the smell had departed, left in its place the scent of stale, lifeless cotton.
The next morning he washed the bed linen.
Days later he woke to find himself standing at the front window, staring down the street, waiting for her to return from work, her hair shiny and fresh, her face beaming with news. He knew she’d never return, but he waited till the streetlights cast shadows across the cobblestones...just in case.
He turned suddenly, pretending to see her from the corner of his eye.
But it was just his shadow. Laughter came from the bedroom, but he no longer raced in to see. There would be nothing there when he arrived. For now, he just listened and remembered.
In the morning he went to the fridge and discovered she’d left her lunch behind. A small paper sack sat alone on the middle shelf. He smiled; he’d remembered to include a small chocolate treat.
But of course, he thought, she doesn’t take her lunch to work any more.
He ate it all for breakfast. The sandwiches were still fresh; as they should have been; he’d made them only the night before.
Next to go were his dreams. He hated going to bed alone. He wrestled nights with his sheets. They twisted and choked him while shadows danced and played in his head. He got up, packed her things neatly into a bag and set it at the front door. She might come back to get them. She hadn’t taken a thing with her when she’d left.
Nothing that was her own. He stayed at the front window for two days, but she didn’t return to collect the bag.
He began wearing her clothes. Her smell was still in the oversized jumper she loved and he chose to wear some of her larger pieces to match. If he closed his eyes and nestled into his own arm he discovered he could sleep. He rested on the sofa like a bird secured in its nest.
He woke early, ate her overlooked lunch, and spent the day staring from the window.
The smells eventually faded from her clothes, but he found if he used her scents and soaps the familiar returned. The perfumes bit at his nose, mercilessly stinging his sorrow. He shaved and painted her face over his own, balanced her spectacles on his nose and stared at her staring at him staring in the mirror.
She quickly looked over her shoulder to catch him, but he’d gone and all she could hear was her own laughter.
The next morning she went to the fridge, grabbed the paper sack sitting on the shelf and opened it. She smiled; he’d remembered her chocolate. She walked into the hall, smoothed her dress, checked her seems in the mirror and, sure in the knowledge that she looked like herself, started for work.
And as she passed by the bedroom she could hear him laughing.
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© 1991 Paul Leighland MacLaine
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