On the day you died, you asked me what time I’d be coming home. I sort of made an irritated sound as I put on my jacket and said that I wasn’t sure. I ignored the way you looked at me then, like you were just on the verge of crying or asking me to give you a definite time, a definite anything. For a minute, I wanted to say that I’d be back by ten, but I changed my mind because I didn’t want to have a longer conversation about what time I’d be coming home or whether I would be coming home. So I shut up, grabbed my phone, and mumbled something about seeing you later. Just before I closed the door behind me, I thought I heard you say goodbye, and that was the last thing you would ever say to me.

On the day you died, I went out without telling you what time I’d be back or even where I’d be going. I just said I was going to meet some friends, which I actually did. I didn’t lie about that, at least. I met up with my friends and we had dinner, a few drinks, and then a long conversation about how I felt that things weren’t working out as I hoped they would. They told me I should talk about it with you, as if words could fix whatever was wrong between us, because they didn’t know that words were causing most of the problems in the first place. Words we would say and not say, words screamed, words whispered, words we’d spit out and bite back, words that cut at us like knives until I walked around feeling like I had been skinned alive. No. I told my friends that more words wouldn’t help.

On the day you died, I remember wanting to ask you whether you wanted to come with me. But I knew that if I did say that, you’d just give me that sad look that made me feel like you were accusing me of treating you like an afterthought. So I didn’t say anything about you coming with me because the truth was I wanted to get away to some place where I wouldn’t have to see your eyes even for just a few hours. And I left and shut the door behind me without acknowledging your goodbye, then I went out and tried to forget about everything and how the world was falling apart all around us and, for a few hours, I could pretend you didn’t exist and I was just fine with that.

On the day you died, I knew you wanted to ask me to stay and I wanted to ask you to leave with me. But we both said other things instead of what we really wanted to say and I left while you stayed behind. Except now I think maybe I’m just telling myself that was the case so I can pretend there was a part of me that felt that way. But it doesn’t really matter now, does it? I just put on my jacket that day, grabbed my phone, and said something about seeing you later. Then you said goodbye, and I pretended I didn’t hear you, and I walked out and met up with my friends who told me I should have talked to you about everything that was wrong between us.

On the day you died, I had the chance to keep you with me. But I didn’t do that. So I wonder now if you blamed me for not saving you as your skin grew paler and the bathwater grew redder while you maybe hoped that I’d come home early. And I’ve got nothing to do now but wonder what I could have done differently.

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