The couple a few tables down suddenly exploded into laughter.
It startled her, interrupting the silence of her own non-existent conversation and she looked over.
The young girl was still laughing. Her head was tossed backwards, eyes shut, hands lifted covering her face. The boy she was with had his is arms bent and crossed on the table, and his head low and forward as he watched her laugh with adoration.
It was too polished, too perfect to be genuine.
She couldn’t look away.
Even when the young girl caught her staring, she felt unable to avert her eyes.
The girl mouthed the word ‘sorry’ before covering her giggling mouth with a perfectly manicured hand and turning back to the boy, leaning in to meet him across the table in a conspiratorial whisper.
She continued to watch for a moment, and then felt a soft tug on her soul urging her to turn back to her own conversation.
It seemed desperately important that she be present to watch her life fall apart.
Her conversation continued in silence. There were no words left to say; no words to move them forward whether forward was together or apart.
She looked down at the table and found herself distracted by the way the grain of the wood threaded in and out of sight.
She felt dizzy.
She curved her fingers around the coffee mug in her hand, trying to focus on the texture, think about how it felt in her hand, but it was as if she was watching someone elses’ hand move. She moved her fingers one at a time, fascinated by their foreign-ness.
Something cracked a little inside and for a moment she thought she might physically throw up. Nothing was hers. These limbs attached to her body, they didn’t seem real.
This is not my life. This cannot be my life.
But it was. And in a moment he would get up and walk out and this would be over.
He shifted in his seat and her heart tightened on the mug with a rush of fear. She grasped for words, something, anything she could stay to prolong this. As excruciating as this was, she knew instinctively would be better than the nothingness that would come with his absence:
“What’s on the agenda for your day?”
He looked up at her for a moment and gave her a glimpse of his soul: muddy with pain and confusion and anger. And then his face shifted before her eyes and the lines of pain melted into and expression of irritation.
“I’m going to go.”
Panic. Pure and uncensored. She felt it flooding her veins and forcing its way up and out of her throat:
“No. I mean. You don’t have to go.”
He looked at her for a moment and she invaded every corner of his face, desperate to find some evidence of emotion, but a mask had fallen and all she had now was the face of a stranger.
He closed his fingers around his keys, looked at her with the blank expression for a few torturous moments, and then stood and turned and walked away.
She wanted to weep or cry or process or die, but she was distracted in that moment by the very real and practical danger that she might start screaming; not metaphorically, literally.
She looked down at her coffee mug and blinked her eyes several times willing herself to focus on the mug, focus on real and tangible things. Breathe in and out and don’t scream. Don’t lose it here and now.
But thinking about the texture of the mug couldn’t cannibalize the millions of dreams that were dying around her. There was no going back, no delete button and no undo. In this moment she was loosing all the children that weren’t yet made and their lives and their children’s lives. And her heart was falling out of her and she knew it and she was panicking and drowning and she looked up for anything to grab onto that might steady her and help contain the screams that were rising up in her throat, but all she could see was the young couple just sitting and talking as if life was going to continue now in this darkness and she knew it wasn’t and she didn’t know what to do.
So this is what it feels like when you ruin your life.