Words || Alex Sutcliffe
‘I think there's something you should know,’ he begins, although we've been sitting on this bench for half an hour—although there's nothing he can tell me now I don't already know. He expressed enough months ago, at the height of a long, hot summer, when he started sleeping in pyjamas: top and bottoms. He'd fallen for someone else and was saving his okay body for her. He's old fashioned that way. When we started dating, I managed to ignore that.
‘I never wanted to hurt you,’ he says, and I believe him because he's brought me here, to the closest thing my block has to a forest—a bin, a bench and a plane tree clustered around a storm drain—to put me out of my misery. He's old fashioned that way, too. He'd never make a mess in anybody else's home.
‘I know we've been close for a while,’ he says. We're sitting with space between us for his new girl. A puddle, the first rain of the season, spreads through his jeans. The space is dry. I scan the foliage for anything else to look at. In the middle branches of the middling tree, where I have to crane my neck to see, is the first brown leaf. Except for the tree, and the puddle, we're sitting how've sat for months—rigid spines poking into silence. Never once in those months did he slam a door or break a glass. All the glassware sat in solid stacks as we hurtled toward the floor, toward shattering together.
‘I'm in love with someone else.’ The wind whips around the first brown leaf, exposes it to the grey light. A sharp gust throws my hair across my mouth, lifts a McDonald's bag from the bin, tears at the leaves in the tree. The first brown leaf comes loose. When are two people more together than when one throws a glass just to know the other sees it falling?
‘I know you didn't see this coming.’ The first leaf to fall hangs in the grey light, floats forever as the park and everything in it—the bin, the bench, the plane tree, my already ex-boyfriend, his soon to be ex-girlfriend—hurtle toward the earth.
'I know this is a shock.’ The first leaf to fall lands in a puddle in the storm drain.
Did you see that?
‘I don't—what are you talking about?’