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[personal profile] babyjosephine posting in [community profile] thedirtyverse
6 April, 2002, about two days after Robert crossed.

I should be used to disappointment.

There was one small problem. Alice wanted to die.

Wanting to die wasn’t the problem. It was that she couldn’t. Physically, she could try. But what would happen if she did? She had an eighteen-year-old, promiscuous son to chase—and if she crossed over, if she did what Robert did, where would she fit? Robert had crossed over to get away from her, from earth. She would be a burden.

She could go to her parents. Her mother wouldn’t like it. Her father might be upset. Fabian would be happy he didn’t have to listen to her nag, at least. As a mother, that was all she became good for—ignoring. Even Robert ignored her when she told him not to go—don’t go. Don’t leave us here.

I should be used to disappointment. She picked up the pieces of a coffee mug, one that had hit the kitchen floor and shattered into shards and dust at her bare feet. Her fingers were shaking too violently to pick them up, but she tried, and cut herself in the process. She could barely get the tap to work. The rivulet of blood broke free and dripped down her hand, splattering quietly at the bottom of the sink. Alice wiped her eyes with her left wrist and turned the water on so violently that it hit the sink’s surface and sprayed her.

And every minute of this was killing her. Every minute of this threatened to push her off the edge and to shatter her like the coffee mug. She ignored it, gave up, sucked on her finger, wiped at her tears, and as she left the room, passed a photograph on the wall, she gave it one resentful glance before slamming her fist into it and throwing it off the wall. The glass shattered, the photograph remained, glinting in the light of the room even as a storm raged outside.

She could see Robert’s smile through the glare on the glossy surface and she bent down, sniffing hard, rubbing her wrist against her eyes again, and picked it up. Tore it in fact, not quite between their bodies—ripping herself in half. She tore the photo again, suddenly frenzied. Her fingers couldn’t keep up but she tore until it was in tiny, uneven pieces sprinkled all over the floor. There was nothing recognizable left—but there were hundreds of photos hanging in tact.

Too exhausted to move, she tried to push the picture pieces in a pile as her temples throbbed with each cry, but her work was pointless. She couldn’t see well enough to focus and her hands, her mind, every inch of her was too unsteady.

Alice stood, slowly, bracing herself against the wall, her face red and damp and her eyes bloodshot. She fumbled towards the bedroom, threw a photo off the side table near the bed, and dropped to her knees again. Covering her face with her hands, she let go of thinking and doing and simply cried—no, not simply. The sound of it drove the rain harder against the windows, drowned out the noise. The sound of it echoed and rang. The wind howled. She half-screamed, slamming her palm against the floor, stretching out on her stomach, pulling at her hair. Her muscles were tense and aching but she still couldn’t stop crying. Robert had left her. Robert wasn’t coming back. He hadn’t married her, hadn’t wanted children, hadn’t stayed forever. He would never come back. She was alone. Not even a widow. Barely a mother. There was no ring on her hand to remember them by, only photographs that now seemed meaningless. At the end of it, he had left. After every smile and kiss and every moment together, intimate or otherwise, was the knowledge that he left. No kiss could keep him. Nothing could keep him. She had lost him.

She was alone again. She was destined to be alone. Even when she found him and loved him and lived with him, even when she had his child, she was still destined to be alone. Every memory was now tainted by it. She was crying for those memories, those forty years that no longer seemed to matter. He had declared them irrelevant when he left. And now what was she to do? What could she do? She couldn’t die.

But she wanted to die.

She could see him, if she did. She could see him looking at her and leaving. She could see herself wandering after him for all eternity, falling in and out of life whenever she thought he might change his mind.

Once Alice had thought she was enough for him. Now, splayed on the ground, another shattered picture frame near her hand, she knew otherwise. She had never been enough for him. Maybe he stayed because he didn’t want to bother finding someone better. Maybe he stayed because he’d never be alone. Maybe he stayed out of obligation to her parents. To Fabian. Fabian was legally old enough to take care of himself, and he often did, and Robert was gone now. Was that what he had been waiting for? The moment when he no longer needed to be a father? Was Alice not keeping him there?

Of course she wasn’t. If she had been keeping him there, he would be there with her now.

She wasn’t a patient. She wasn’t a doctor. She wasn’t a nurse. She wasn’t anything interesting to him at all. Her impressions were old. Her entertainment was gone. He was tired of sleeping with her, tired of kissing her, tried of sharing a bed. She had given up on hinting for marriage years ago, but he was tired of that, too.

Alice was beginning to feel tired of herself. Everyone else had outgrown her. Everyone else had moved on. She wanted to start over, change her name, run screaming into the headlights of a car. But the impact had already occurred and she was crippled on the floor, her hands growing colder, her skin growing bluer, the air growing chilled.

Her breath clouded at her lips. Her tears slowly stopped. Froze to her skin. Her eyes unfocused. Her breathing steadied, deepened, slowed as though she was dying. But her mind had slowed, too, and that was all she wanted. Even as the windows fogged, frosted, thickened with ice, and even as her entire body looked frozen in death, she wasn’t thinking and was relieved for it. Robert wouldn’t want her in the afterlife so she would stay here, alone, preserved in this horrible nightmare that had knocked her to the ground. No one would see it, no one would worry, no one would care. She couldn’t help but give up. She was used to disappointment.

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