Steam wafted from the bathtub as I dipped my toes into the water, testing the temperature. It had been a long week and I needed to wash it away. I sunk into the deep, hot water and closed my eyes. It didn’t take long for my mind to wander to him. My bottom lip began to quiver and I fought back tears. It seemed more like seven years than the seven days that he had been gone. Our final fight had been spectacular and the hatred we spewed that night had lingered in the air of our shared apartment for days after he walked out. Every night I waited for a phone call with an apology that never came. It didn’t occur to me that he might be waiting for the same thing.
A lone tear slipped from my eye, snaking down my cheek and holding tightly on the edge of my jaw, defying gravity, a stubborn streak to rival my own. When I finally felt it lose its grip and drop it was as if a dam let loose within me. Everything I had kept bottled up was suddenly unleashed and wave after wave of emotion hit me with the force of the churning ocean in a hurricane. I relived every moment, every joke, every smile, the laughter, the love, the passion, every kiss, every touch, the tears, the anger, every raised voice, every fight, the fear, the resentment. I pulled my knees to my chest, bowed my head and sobbed, my salty tears mixing with the bath water, unaware of space or time.
An involuntary shiver ran through me, I assumed from my thoughts of him, of us, of our failure, until I realized the water had grown lukewarm and my skin was shriveled. I slowly rose, goose pimples forming on my skin, and wrapped a towel around myself protectively. The chill reached my bones and I couldn’t decide if I was shivering from the cold or the pain. No matter, the cure was the same for both – my well-worn pajamas and a stiff glass of whiskey.