He broke gaze after thirty seconds, he knew because there was a clock on the wall right behind her head ticking away the hours they had spent there in the dark deciding if they were good for each other anymore.

They quietly sipped drinks, deciding to meet at this neutral but also charged spot in order to go over the logistics of this thing they had started and were now ending. He had been living on friends couches for the last couple weeks, and his neck and back ached from lumpy sleeping conditions and sitting in his chair for too long. It couldn’t go on like this, the both of them knew it as they picked at their food. They had their first date here, she suggested it, going somewhere that was good in order to come full circle, plague it with the bad or the ending or something like that in order to just bring things to a close. She liked that sort of thing, she liked full circles.

They had ordered appetizers to share, and he talked about his week at work and she talked about hers. Everything was tinged with a great sadness, and imagined the whole thing as some sort of comedic joke, how something as simple as “work is the same” could be tinged with such sadness. He looked at her hair and remembered the way it felt when he touched it, when she would come out of the shower and it would be slick and wet and smell like oranges and honey.

She was still beautiful, even more so now after weeks of not talking or seeing or touching. That’s the problem really, nobody ever seems less beautiful even if you want to leave them. The waiter came over and took their dinner orders, she wrung her hands as she spoke, she was nervous. He didn’t ask her why, felt like he should start getting used to not knowing her and ordered his own food.

A few weeks in the span of a lifetime is nothing, a few weeks in the span of the universe is so minusculeΒ you might as well be looking at a split atom. Still, it seemed like there were all of a sudden years between them that they could not get past, years that had hardened and softened them in so many ways and yet mattered so little to everyone else sitting there in the restaurant, living their own lives and consumed with their own weeks.

He tries not to think about pain, or love, or much of anything except what they came here to do. He returned her keys and said he would be by to pick up his things in the next little while, she offered to let him stick around until he found someplace else to live, he declined. She told him that she may move anyway because all she sees in that place is the way they were, the holes in the wall from the shelf that fell, the paintings on the wall that they bought together, the way they used to hold each other in the kitchen. She told him he was all over that place, that she couldn’t get him out of there even though she moved around all the furniture and changed the bed, he was all over that place.

She said she went back and forth about the whole thing over and over again, he said he had too. There was so much broken love in that space it was almost as if the air was thick, the dark accentuating the longing they felt but could not say, the hesitation but also the need to get away, to move forward.

What are the things we become when we cease to be loved. He didn’t know.

In the middle of a quiet place with quiet lights, a world was ending, and nobody knew it.

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