Seyi had been seeing Adi for nine months. Their relationship had never been a fiery affair, rather it was something more grounded like the green roots of a sapling fixing itself into the earth. It had changed over the course of that time, although she hadn’t realised just how much. And so his four words fell to the bottom of her stomach like a quartet of heavy pebbles dropped in a still pond; immaculately formed and deliberate in shape, sound and meaning. Although he didn’t let go of his grip on her right hand as they walked she felt a distance growing; their steps moved out of sync and her arm stretching over the widening abyss.
She looked down at the ground, her eyes welling and face hot. She was asking herself what feelings lay beyond the shock, and searching inside for the right words to follow his. ‘I want my hand back’ was all that came to mind but failed to escape her throat. A wave of sadness washed over her and a tear fell onto her boot. Its stain was slightly larger than the rain droplets that had started to sprinkle. The sounds of quickened footsteps, splashing puddles and tooting horns were muffled by her internal silence. There was nothing to say; no questions to ask. It didn’t matter anyway, the answers would not stem the flow.
When they stopped in front of the train station he hugged her. Tightly, as if to say ‘I’m sorry’. She hugged him too, but hers was a hug filled with regret. Her arms draped heavily around his shoulders, her cheek rested in the crook of his neck, and her fingers deliberately smoothed down the hairs at his nape as she gently breathed in the faint scent of oud lingering on his skin. She wanted to say ‘I’m hurt. You’ve hurt me.’ but her lips remained tightly pursed and she could only hope that he felt the silent locutions in the embrace.
Before she would let herself sob, Seyi recoiled from his hold, pushed herself away and managed to mouth a silent goodbye to the watery mirage of his face. Hurriedly, she descended the stairs to the platform and rushed into the carriage. The day had started so differently. It had been full of plans, anticipation and good news to deliver. As the train jostled her body side to side, Seyi’s right hand clung tightly onto the pair of tickets in her pocket. They were dated next Saturday. At her stop she trudged up the stairs, out of the station and into the spattering rain. Pausing, she defeatedly threw the tickets into the bin and walked home empty handed.