It was cold that day.
“I didn’t mean for this to happen.” Her breath took shape in the cold winter air as she spoke. “I’m sorry.”
Before, he forgave.
Before, she promised.
That was then, when he believed that they could work everything out. Now, now was different. She was different. She had made a decision.
“I’m,” She paused and bit her lip, a sign of stress that he recognized. “Leaving.” She brushed hair away from her face with a mittened hand. The orange coat was closed close around her, buttoned up to her neck.
He berated himself for falling in love with her. He berated himself for falling in love with her so much. He looked at her. He closed his eyes, remembered to breathe, opened them again. He kept his hands in his pockets. For the first time in his entire life, the thought of striking a woman appeared and was dismissed.
He knew she was cold, and he did not care. He didn’t say anything. Gloved hands in pockets stretched, tried to keep warm and failed. He was cold throughout, but he didn’t care about that, either. He knew that even when he went back indoors, he’d remain cold. He looked away. The last leaves swirled around the empty playground, and he watched them create circular patterns around their feet. How cliché, he thought.
“I’m moving to California.”
He looked up. “California?” With him, he added to himself.
“Yes.” There was an almost imperceptible nod, something he knew as distinctly, utterly, “her.”
He thought about an appropriate response but couldn’t think of one. He picked anything. “I wish the two of you the best of luck.” He turned and started to walk.
“Wait.” She said.
He turned. He saw her hand reaching out to him, her taking a tentative step forward. He shook his head, “No.”
“Just,” He took a deep breath, exhaled. “Go.” He turned and started walking. He didn’t have a destination in mind. He just wanted to walk.
She didn’t follow.
Everything’s a cliché, he thought. Until it happens to you.
He walked to the grocery store, to the drug store, to work, and to the metro station. When he came back, she was gone. He went inside, sat on the couch for a few moments. He took off his gloves, felt the warmth slowly creep into his hands. He looked at the thermostat.
The heat was on full blast. She was always cold.
He stood up and turned the dial down to sixty-five. He could wear a sweater.