He no longer knew, or cared, what time of the day, or even what day it was.
He watched himself grow thinner and thinner, his appetite a victim of recent events.
What he couldn’t figure out was whether he was crying because she would not take him back or because, for the first time ever, he didn’t think he would go back if she did. He worked, and walked, and swam, and exercised to the point of exhaustion, so that his mind would not have the energy to think of her, of the life they were going to share, of the love in his heart.
“I never want to have a Plan B,” he had told a friend, just recently. “I want to not think of alternatives to being with her. I can’t imagine a life without her. Haven’t been able to since that first kiss.”
He was trying to remember the last kiss, and couldn’t. That bothered him. Her kisses had awakened his heart after years of loneliness. He assumed it was that morning, as she left for work, but couldn’t be sure.
So he walked some more, in the morning, in the evening, late at night, looking at the faces of passing strangers for a smile, for a face that seemed to understand the redness of his eyes. The closest he got was the local homeless man to whom he had been giving cigarettes, who asked him how he was!
“I’m good, thanks” he had replied, as he keep walking towards the nearby beach that had become his sanctuary in past weeks. He walked past the food vendors, and arrived at the seaside just as the sun was about to set.
He couldn’t remember a time where such moments would not include a cigarette, so he found his hands fumbling at the empty shirt pocket where a pack had been for the past thirty years. Trying to learn to live without her, and the crutch that had seen him through every other day since he was a kid was proving to be kind of a bitch.
A short swim to the sandbar, and the briefest of moments spent watching the sunset-saying that he enjoyed it would be a lie. The New Balance sneakers back on, he began to walk again.
He had always loved walking, but in the past it was always while listening to music. He couldn’t do it anymore. He couldn’t listen to sad songs, happy songs, danceable songs. Music had always been his love. It seems now that it was too much for him to take. Too many thoughts, too many feelings triggered by even songs that were not in any way associated with her.
So, he walked some more. He wished he had brought his wallet to buy a fitness tracker so he could at least know how far heartache had taken him. Bad knees, and living on an island, prevented him from becoming a Forrest Gump rerun.
Arriving back home, he thought he felt a pang of hunger as his nose caught the scent of cooking meat from the dive restaurant next door. He climbed the stairs to his apartment and entered the quiet, dark rooms. There were her things to gather, and the pots from the meals he had cooked but not eaten to clean.
Ten push-ups followed, as that was his chosen method to deal with nicotine fits. The bag with her birthday gift-a custom piece of jewelry that couldn’t be returned, and he couldn’t think of anyone else he would want to give it to-rested on the dining room table. Should he give it to her, anyway? Remembering the joy he felt when he thought of the idea, and especially when he picked it up brought the slightest of smiles to his face. Placing it gingerly in one of the bags of clothing, he thought that he wanted her to be happy, even it meant being apart, but that she would like the jewelry. What she did with it afterwards was up to her.
Finally finished with his chores, he felt drowsiness come over him. It had become his favorite feeling, as it presaged sleep, the only escape from the fear and sadness in him.
He showered away the grime of a day spent walking around the city. Sitting on his bed, he rubbed his aching muscles for a bit before turning off the light, and laying down. In the moments before Morpheus welcomed him, he swore that he heard the melody of that old Spanish song.
He slept tired.