As usual, the words fall like marbles from my mouth. Babies learn an entire language in the time that we have been together, and yet I still stammer over my words when we are together.
Genuine confusion washes across Hisao’s face. He’s done this before; acted without thinking the entire consequences through. As I watch, the confusion defrosts into a melancholy frown. He was so eager to tell me his news. He was actually smiling when he told me that he wanted to move out.
“I… I just can’t seem to focus. I feel like my brain has turned to molasses. Ideas used to flow like a river, coursing over rocks and filling me with energy. I don’t even know what I want to do with myself anymore!”
I don’t know what to say. Hisao’s words are erupting in my face, carrying the power of a volcano without the violence. So I stand here, silent, until he speaks again.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to go over the top. It’s just… I dunno.” He moves to the couch and sits down. “I just think I need a change. Something to kick me back into gear.”
“B-but we hardly… hardly see each other as is.” Hisao motions for me to sit down on the couch. I’m not sure if I want to, but my body takes the lead before I can protest. He worms his arms around me, their warm embrace drawing me into his chest. He gently strokes my hair, and my instincts kick in. I rest my head on his shoulder and return his hug.
“I know, I know. That’s one of the reasons I want to do this. If I can study properly during the week, then we should have more time on the weekends.”
“But I don’t want to be alone.”
Hisao pushes himself away from me so that he and I are staring into each other’s eyes. “You’re not alone. You’re never alone. But we need to think about the future. We can’t work in a service station forever.”
He’s right. I know he’s right, but I still feel betrayed. Hisao is thinking about both of us, but he doesn’t realise that I can think for myself. I bury my head back into his shoulder. Trying to argue is more than I can bear. I want to go to sleep so that I can wake up from this nightmare. Since that day in Yamaku we have hardly been apart. Even with our jobs and studies, we still somehow managed to see each other every day. I don’t need him to talk to me, or even to be awake, but I just want to see his face every day. To think that I might not see him for 5 days a week, every week, is just too much to bear.
Hisao’s enthusiasm returns by the morning, and before I have even finished my breakfast and make-up he has already sent a number of emails to the university’s administrators to finalise the deal. The morning light has dulled my fears. We both go to the same university, and we both work at the same service station. I’m sure we’ll still see each other. I don’t think that I could live in the dorms, so there really is no choice but to stay here in the apartment.
No, not “the” apartment, “our” apartment. We found this place together, and we live here together. We borrowed and bought the furniture, we painted the walls. For the rest of my life I will remember this apartment; my first “home;” one that I built with my own hands, with my own love, with my own family.
“So, it looks like I can move in on Thursday after all. I don’t have a lab this week so my afternoon is free. And it’s not like I need to take a lot of stuff with me; just some clothes and some bed sheets.”
I feel like the damsel in distress tied to the railway tracks. Only this time, as the unstoppable freight train hurtles towards my body there is no hero to save me; just my brown-haired, arrhythmic lover. In some kind of feeble protest I ignore the subject almost entirely. But this is only a delaying tactic, and on Thursday morning I bid farewell to my de-facto husband, some of his clothes, and his bed sheets.
Suddenly, without wanting it, I am alone again.