Fare Thee Well

Their eyes met over the roof of his car, a carrot soup colored contraption that was almost twice as old as she was.

She did it on purpose, flicked her eyes in his direction one last time, mostly to see if he was doing the same. He was. His stare made a cavernous black ache open inside her. His irises were her anchors – had always been – those orbs that were so blue they felt electric.

She blinked at the metallic click of his door handle, watched the back of his head as he lowered himself into the driver’s seat. Heat sparked off the asphalt of the road and pieces of her loose driveway crunched into her bare feet. This was a last she marked – his car parked on her curb. It had become so routine, but it would all be different after this. This time, he would pull away and disappear, and by the time he returned, she’d be gone. They all would.

The engine coughed to life, a hesitant, whiny sound. She thought she should cry, but her eyes were as dry as the desert summer. She felt too empty, too bottomless for tears. Months ago, all of them had sat on her porch steps their breath crystallizing in the frigid air. They were huddled under the comforter she’d pulled from her bed, and they talked in hushed tones, not wanting to disturb the silence of the aging neighborhood. It started to snow, and she traced the white flakes in reverse, drawing her eyes up the path they were falling down. The motion made her dizzy as her eyes swam simultaneously with icy fluff and silver stars. That’s when he said it, his voice like a shovel clearing her path.

“The stars; I never just look anymore.”

She wanted to cry then. His words engulfed her heart and squeezed it like a sponge. It was a quote from her favorite movie, and she knew he’d said it for her. The others laughed and supplied the next lines, recreating the scene. She gazed at the moon, and the first crater ripped open inside her. Just twenty minutes earlier, he’d finally told them when he’d be leaving. She could count the months on one hand.

The honk yanked her out of her reverie, the heat colliding against her skin. His car’s brake lights blared as he followed the curve in the road, and then she couldn’t see him anymore. She pressed her feet into the craggly concrete, closing her eyes as her vision burst with white hot streaks of falling stars.

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