You act surprised when they tell you they’re leaving, though you know they were never truly there. You had watched the emptiness in their eyes grow over time, expecting the arrival of a goodbye before they did. ‘Sometimes you just know,’ you told a friend over coffee, ‘sometimes you have to let go before you even grab hold.’
Their beat up Pontiac drove off as the sun sat high in the sky, and you stood at the window only briefly to watch the last puffs of exhaust fumes dissipate. You didn’t bother to hug goodbye, you just nodded and closed the car door for them, one of many barriers put up without purpose. ‘Sometimes you understand,’ you admitted to your mother over phone, ‘sometimes it’s better to give up than to expect too much.’
You continue to make their tea in the morning, out of habit mostly, and call out their name when the wind shakes the door. You don’t tell anyone you miss them, not even yourself, and when they call you don’t say much. ‘Sometimes you thank the ones who go,’ you whisper to the imprint in the bed, ‘sometimes it’s the ones who leave who stay the longest.’

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