It was queer when he had doubled back that her front door was ajar. And it was just as queer that her back door was open. He’d noticed earlier in the day, when he was moving out his last belongings, that the back door’s screen he’d put in had been swapped out for the glass. And he had thought to himself that it must have taken a man, or at least a man’s strength, to have done that. But, after all, she wasn’t weak, and really, she was quite capable. Anyway, he had thought that this might be the last moment ever to make up—to make what had gone down the tubes work out.
He had had a thought some months prior that the two of them ought to quit all this nonsense, she with her very lovely and very expensive diamond engagement ring, and he with his unvoiced uncertainty over the whole marriage thing. After all, he knew he loved her, and she loved him. And the error, the mistake was to keep putting it off, their marriage, somewhere beyond the offing even, into the unforeseeable future.
This putting off and putting off until the putting off that wasn’t even talked about, wasn’t even mentioned, created tiny little cracks in their vessel, the one that had contained all their love. And one day, any vessel, no matter how large and no matter how strong, once it has too many ripples in it, once it has too many cracks, it will crack into pieces. And if that should ever occur, all the love that two people have been pouring in—even though some of it was always trickling away—will be completely lost.
So he had doubled back. He meant to repair their love, the cracks in the vessel that were large now and from her side of it, at any rate, all the love there was gushing out already. He had wanted to tell her that where he had been short on strength before, even though he was quite mighty, he could himself be a bigger and a stronger container, and that, even though he had wounded her by turning away, he had come back, stronger and more capable than ever. And he had wanted to tell her that he could contain their love forever, and that the vessel they held would last them their whole lives. And before she had sealed away all hope for this, while her voice was still soft when she spoke to him, he wanted to tell her, and plan on their being married together when they had returned to the rocky coast of Maine next summer for their fifth time, and by this she would know for sure with all certainty that he would love her forever and never leave her. This is what he had learned about his truest feelings when, woefully, he had turned away two months before from her to think and feel it all, all alone by himself.
Before she had come downstairs, while he had rapped on the glass door, and opened it just enough to call her name, he heard her voice upstairs, which seemed to have a comfortable and easygoing song to it, a voice he had known. But when she descended she screamed and screamed a bloody kind of murder, “No! No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! Leave me alone!” She ran from her house and ran into her car, screaming and screaming so loud the entire block and all the families living on it must have certainly heard. (Though through the shingles of her home the neighbors must have heard her raging sobbing suicidal cries for years already, however muffled they had been by plaster and brick.) But he paid the embarrassment of neighbors no mind. He begged her on his knees, repeatedly, “Please! Please! Please!” until another man directly behind him told him he had called the police.
This silly ploy meant nothing to the man, for her fiancé, or her ex-fiancé, by a handful of weeks, hadn’t done a thing worth police notice. That “the police were on their way” was like a line that someone who learns how to live by TV would say to someone about life. But lo, she ran into a parked BMW parked along the street side in front of her house. No, the man behind him, he wasn’t a concerned neighbor. A short, bald-headed, tight-shirted man with good upper body muscle declined to identify himself, and he ventured to give the ex-fiancé some calm enough mano a mano advice, though the ex-fiancé was thinking that he’d heard this same type once before in xXx or, as they say, “Triple X,” as it were, but surely this was no Zander Cage and no Vin Diesel. And the woman and her latest noble and protective hero, the grand part that he himself had once played, they drove off together in $85,000 of fine German automobile.
It blew to pieces their lost engagement. And all the flowers he had sent her that afternoon, she’d thrown three dozen roses into the trash. That is very sad. All that beauty gone to waste. Even the flowers he’d picked for her from his garden, too. Even sadder. They were all there. It was all very sad. Finally, he had understood her. “I want to die! I want to die! I want to die!”—he had heard this screaming, crying voice from her for years, a cry so shrill and harsh and loud the words themselves would scratch their way through ten silent pages of paper. And he had wished to save her from herself. But nobody ever does, so heads up, hermano, ‘cause I was there for years with that feeling, bro. And you, you know that, silly boy! Yes, all her strange messages she had sent him of late, why, none of these had sounded like her at all: “I understand your intent,” or “Leave it alone,” or “I cannot go back there.” These strange new flattened locutions that had never once before over their years together come out of her mouth, or were ever delivered from the tapping of her fingertips, they all meant the same exact thing.
It would appear that for some time now, she had been deceiving him (just, as he had remembered, she’d likewise deceived him over a man in her madness when they had first met), or was double-crossing him, or’d dropped him like a hot potato without a clue, or was palming him off with all sorts of obfuscatory lines about how very badly he had “hurt her” and how she “didn’t trust” him anymore as soon as he himself had said—mirroring her own fraught line which she had threatened him with again and again for a good eight months since New Year’s (against which he protested and pleaded she did not do)—“Let’s take a break.” And that was why, he understood, feeling sunken beneath his own broken shadow, that for her there was nothing to “work out” with him, as he begged her on the floor in her garage on his knees. She was off to six o’clock dinner with some shaved-headed toughie with a flashy car and the wrong sort of accent for a rich person who’d threatened to have him arrested over a spat between two cracked lovers that was about as much his business as saving a little piece of yellowed wax falling out of a stranger’s ear.