He told her to relax. “Sit down.” As he handed her a glass of water, “drink this.”
She violently pushed his hand away spilling the water all over the carpet. “I don’t want any water, I don’t want to sit down, and I don’t want to hear another damn word out of your mouth.” Joshua was confused. All he had told her was maybe she would be happier if she wasn’t with him.
“You were the one who said you lose your temper and all your muscles feel tight and you curl up into a ball.” Remembering a conversation from a previous evening. “And you told me that never happened when you were living with your mother.”
“So you want me to go and live with my mother. Is that what your telling me?” She furiously questioned.
“You can go wherever you want. I’m not saying you need to go live with her. It’s your choice. I just think it would be best…” She cut him off.
“You think it would be best? ” She knew exactly what he was going to say. This seemed to happen a lot though. She would speak over him, assuming she already knew the words that were about to leave his lips. This time, she was right.
“I think it’s time for you to go. We’re not compatible. I can’t keep trying to make you happy. It just doesn’t work.” He let out a long breath and began to speak again. It seemed she was finally allowing him to talk freely. “You know as well as I do Maggy. You know it’s not working anymore. And I’m leaving for Iraq anyway.”
Once again she felt the urge to interrupt. “You’re leaving in four months a–hole!” The anger was beginning to rise. “If you want me to leave, just say so. But don’t try and explain it, because you’re just going to piss me off even more then you already have. You try to tell me it’s best for me? And how me leaving is because I’m not happy. Well make a f—ing effort Joshua. It’s not your responsibility to make me happy. But, as we are in a relationship, it is your responsibility to consider my feelings and my desires and not continue to do things that make me upset.” She stopped for a moment. She realized she was going to get no where with him. Not like this anyway. There’s no arguing with a professional interrogator. They have already thought of each angle and are prepared to turn it around on you at any moment. “I’m tired Joshua. I’m tired of convincing myself that I’m happy with whatever I get. I want to be happy in abundance.”
“Exactly.” Joshua’s arrogance filled the room. He seemed to already know every word she could possibly say, and make it seem as though, she was only proving his point further.
“Good bye Joshua.” Maggie took a long gaze stretching across the entire room. Looking for something, some reason to stay. But, she knew, it was time to go. If he was wrong about everything else, she still knew, he was right about this. Although she still wanted to smash every thing in that house, she felt her anger subside. “I’ll come back for my things later. When you’re not here.” The door closed behind her.
The hallway that she walked through every day when she left the apartment, seemed to have lengthened since yesterday. Each step lasting minutes until the other foot hit the ground. Time had slowed down. “Was that really the end?” She thought to herself. She began to go back in her memory to the beginning of their relationship. She took a moment to ponder on the question of, “If I knew then what I know now.” She was sure she wasn’t the only one to consider this thought. But she wondered, if she had known things were to end this way, would she had answered the phone that night? Would she have spent those hours upon hours getting to know this person. Would she have enjoyed the six months they spent just conversing from Alaska to San Diego? Would she have cared?
“Maggie?” A voice called out from behind her. As she turned she saw Joshua step out of the apartment. He began walking towards her, but she remained still. She could only imagine he’d say something like, “You forgot this.” as he handed her a purse or some other meaningless item at a time like this.
He stepped up to her with his head hanging low. She continued the same glare she held from inside the apartment. “What is it Joshua?” With a tone as condescending as she could make it.
“I just wanted to say…” He paused as though he had wished he said it fifteen minutes ago. As though he’d wished he would have remembered this thought, long before the argument began. “I love you.” His eyes met hers. He lifted his head as though he was a doberman who had just completed a set of tricks.
“You love me?” She repeats his words as if she almost didn’t understand what they meant. Only, she really didn’t. How can the same person who tells you they’re tired of making you happy, allow the words, “I love you” to leave their lips. “How can you say that?”
Joshua began to explain, “I do love you. I care for you, I care for your well being, and what happens to you.” He paused again, as he let his head sink into his chest. Almost as a sign of defeat. “But I can’t be responsible for proving it to you every day, all day long.”
A new idea, she thought to herself. He has a problem with “proving” his love to me. “What the hell are you talking about?” The aggravation begins to rise. “What is love to you anyway? Is it not when two people get more joy out of life together then they do apart? Is it not when you feel an intense desire to please another, and do things for them, that they could or could not do for them self, just as an act of kindness. Or are those natural inclinations just a matter of proving it to them, and that is just too much damn work for you?” A feeling of calm came over her. She felt that if this is truly how he feels, then it isn’t worth it for her to consider the fight.
“I’m tired Maggie.” He spoke softly. “I’m tired of seeing you upset all the time, no matter where we are, or what we’re doing.”
“You’re talking about this so called “bad attitude”?” She questioned.
“Yes. And the pressure and the weight and disappointment is too much to bare. I can’t take you out and think you’ll have a great time, and then see you angry every time.” A silent moment passed.
Maggie decided there were no words sufficient enough at this time, to either prove him wrong, or prove her right. Nothing left to say.
She lifted her gaze to meet his eyes. Seeming as though she was about to speak, she gave a quick nod, and began walking towards the elevator.
“Maggie?” Joshua called out as he watched her walk away from him. It took every muscle in her body, and every element of control not to stop. Not to turn her attention to him once again. She reached out to push the down button to the elevator. The door opened. As she stepped in she knew he would still be standing there. Still be looking at her, with the eyes he had been seeing through her for three years now. The moments awaiting the doors to the elevator to close seemed infinite. She didn’t want to over react and press the button to force them shut. So she waited. Wondering if he would make any effort to stop her. She knew, once those doors came together, that would be the end.
The doors finally started closing, and just as they were about to seal the separation between Joshua and Maggie, she saw him turn around. That movement showed her how over it was. He walked away. Although she took the first steps, he didn’t stop her. Her relationship with him was finished.
The doors opened to the first floor. As Maggie stepped out of the box, she felt as though she had stepped into another world. And it was. A world, without Joshua. She glaced over and saw a women walking towards the other elavator. Coffee in hand. And oddly enough, a tear began to fall. Maggie remembered the coffee shop. The place they would go to drink and smoke and spend hours in their own little world. A time she cherished. A time that is gone forever. Coffee will never taste the same. Cigarrettes will never have the same appeal. Life, ceases to have the same appeal.
Maggie through her arm in the air to hail a cab. As the driver pulled over, she turned and gave one last look at the final moments of a commitments end. Inevitably her stare drifted up towards the third floor. To Joshuas window. To find him, not standing there. Not looking out to see her for the last time. And as another tear began to fall, she thought to herself, maybe, just maybe he’s coming down the elevator. Maybe that’s why he isn’t at the window to see me off. As she imagined him rushing out the main doors of the apartment building, straight towards her, to lift her with an everlasting embrace, she was abruptly inturrupted. A low and raspy voice shouted out to her “Hey! Lady?” It was the cabby. “Are you staying or leaving?” As simple as this question appeared, it meant much more then just a request for her to either jump in the cab or not. She had wished for a brief moment, that Joshua had asked the same question. Or at least given her some choice. But just as this thought arose, it vanished. She knew, he was right. It was, all for the best.
She opened the door to the cab, and got in. The chariot to freedom she thought. Free from the pain, free from the anguish. Free to never feel responsible for anyone’s happiness but her own. And the same went for Joshua. She would never again feel the guilt of her “bad attitude,” bringing him down. And so he is free as well.
“Goodbye Joshua.” She thought to herself. And as a tear streamed down her face, she remembered the saying, “If you love something, let it go.” And at this moment, she wasn’t concerned with the second part of it. Neither she, nor Joshua would be returning. And so, she let go. But as she did, she uttered her last words. “I love you.”
Joshua had just come to the window, as he had heard a loud crash and assumed it was just another accident in the city. As he stood at his window in his gulity excitement, his attention immedietely found its way to the bright yellow cab, completely smashed under the back end of a large truck. He searched for a face. As his fear was rising, concern for Maggie was prevalent. It was confirmed. Maggie, laid calmly on the street. Eyes wide open. From three stories up, you’d be suprised at how far your vision can stretch when you fear the worst. He rushed out the apartment door and chose the stairs, as the elevator seemed to be the longer route. He slammed open the main doors of the apartment building leading out the the street, and in the blink of an eye he was kneeling over Maggies warm, lifeless body.
Joshua wrapped his arms around her and gave no restraint as he let out a loud cry. Confused and unconvinced, he inevitably wished he had made her stay. He traced her face and her body with his eyes, and he noticed a piece of paper seeming to be waiting for him to find it. He gently reached into her delicate hand, and released the note. It read, “I’m sorry. I will always love you. You were right. You’re free now.”
Another loud cry escaped his lips. The emergency medical tehnician came rushing over and asked Joshua to step away. He fell back. And as he did, he knew, his life would never be the same. “Gone?” the overbearing thought ran through his mind. “She’s gone forever. I could have kept her safe” These thoughts continued to consume him. And he knew, he would never make the same mistake. He will never give up on someone he loves, and he’ll never let them go. “Goodbye Maggie. I love you.”