The Last Dance
It was over and he knew it. Just from the way they talked these days, it was clear. The love was gone. “I’m going out to get some groceries. Will be back in an hour or so!” she said as she closed the door behind herself. He heard the doorknob click and then looked at the door; the door that had just been shut to his face. It was a new house and the wood work was classy, so the door made just that polite amount of noise that it is supposed to, without disturbing the rhythm of the inhabitants of that house. But somehow, to him that sound felt cacophonous. It reverberated inside of him, like an echo, giving him those silent chills, those shudders. The door had just been slammed on his face and here he was, being tortured by its deafening sound.
She closed the door behind her and walked down the road, holding an empty grocery bag in her hand. The cool breeze caressed her face, sending small shivers down her spine. She could not decide whether the shivers were due to the cold or in anticipation of what was to come. Why was he not making any effort? Why was she the only one trying to bridge this enormous divide between them? Was he seeing someone else? The questions reverberated in her head. The December chill was starting to set in and she could feel the iciness in the air. She stopped for a moment in front of a store window and gazed at her reflection in the mirror. The long trench coat hid her figure to some extent and the dim yellow light of the streetlamp behind her did no justice either. But one could see that she was still pretty, in fact prettier for someone her age. “It can’t be my looks,” she thought to herself. “He’s better than that! But then, what went wrong?”
He sat transfixed in the room, staring at that clock, hoping that the hour would never pass. Hoping that the clock would turn back after the first 59 minutes and he could live this hour again and again in an endless loop, without having to face her again. These times were the only ones when things made sense to him, when he could think clearly. Her presence in the house was stifling, suffocating. She still loved him and he knew it. But he was starting to suspect that it was more out of habit than anything else. She had grown used to him and he had grown used to her. “This can’t be love anymore.” he said out aloud, to no one in specific. He was tired of her pretending that nothing was wrong, that this was just a ‘phase’ that they could coast through. Why didn’t she understand? There was nothing more that could be done. It was all over.
She walked back towards the house talking slow, short steps. She was in no hurry to get back home; in no hurry to face his expressionless face, devoid of any love. The weight of the grocery bags was causing a sharp pain in her shoulder. The cold wasn’t helping either. She looked around her. There was no one on the street. It was too cold. Everyone was probably inside sitting by the fire with their loved ones. She remembered the times when they had done that; sitting on the couch in front of the TV wrapped in a warm quilt. Memories from a different age, a different lifetime perhaps. She was growing tired, not from the weight of the grocery bags, but from the weight of the expectations on her. Their relationship had indeed hit rock bottom, but what hurt her even more that he had stopped trying to mend things a long time ago. She looked up and saw her house, her home. Dreading every step, she walked up to the door and opened it. She walked to the kitchen, setting down the grocery bags and flung her coat on to a hook by the door. He was sitting in his couch in front of the TV. As soon as she walked into the room, she saw him turn and say, “We need to talk.” For a moment, her world was trapped inside those four words, trying to force its way out, but to no avail. She knew this was it. With moist eyes, she looked up at him, her husband of 7 years, the only man she had ever loved.
He sat in front of the TV barely noticing anything on the screen. His mind was elsewhere. He heard the door open and he knew it was her. It was the way she walked, shuffling her feet in that typical fashion. He could tell it was her merely by hearing those footsteps. He heard her keep the bags in the kitchen and then walk towards him. He turned to her and summoning all his courage, said, “We need to talk.” She looked up at him with those eyes of hers, those very eyes that had made him crazy about her all those years ago. That very moment, he knew he wouldn’t be able to go through with it. He just couldn’t.
They both looked down and an awkward silence followed. He sat down without saying anything. She stood there for a few seconds and then left the room silently, as if nothing had happened. Maybe this is what happens when two people get so used to each other. They become attached to each other like those glass figurines entwined together, damned to dance with each other for all eternity. They know it’s their last dance together; just don’t know how to get off the floor.