I picked up the scattered toys that my niece left on the floor. There were Lego blocks built on top of each other with no concept of a design. A toy train and a truck that she had crashed against each other just earlier in the day. There was a wind-up toy with its whirring sound that amused her until it stopped; three dolls with two of their heads popped off their bodies. The doorbell buzzed and I didn't have to check who it was. I knew it was you.

You walked in with your head bent down, like a penitent about to confess his sins. You sat down on the chair close to the dining table, while I stood looking at the toys that my niece had left, thinking whether to turn the TV on or not. It was suffocating to be so close to you, whereas it had not been that way just a week before. I could not bring myself to look you in the eyes, because I didn't know what to say.

"What happened?" you asked. Your hands on your lap, restrained almost to the point of a clench.

I didn't know how to answer that with the brutal honesty that was in my head. Five days ago, I woke up feeling nothing at all. Love had flown the coop and left us. It happened in the instant I knew you met up with someone. Many times in the course of a few days. Many times when I waited for you and you said you were with friends. The certainty of which made all the lights in my heart go out. A sweeping blackout, a massive shutdown. Suddenly, I couldn't stand to be near you. All your words had the weightlessness of air and the stench of a lingering fart that made me sick.

While you waited for an answer, I had a little conversation in my head. How can you ask me what happened when you knew what happened? Why do I have to explain myself when you're the one who need to explain something? Don't mistake my silence for ignorance. I saw the car that dropped you when we were supposed to meet that weekend at the mall. When I asked you what took you so long, you said there was no cab. It was the same guy, the same guy that made you smile whenever he tagged you in his Facebook posts. You spent far more time with him talking about everything under the sun than we did in the two weeks leading up to that day. You should have known what you have done. And if you can't explain that, I have nothing to explain. I knew the first intimations of love because I was him two years ago.

I picked up the wind-up toy and wound it up until I felt the tiny gears and springs inside resisting my turn. I let it go. The sound took up the silence and space between us. I watched the toy run around in a haphazard direction, going everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

"Will you please answer me?" you asked, picking up the toy and muting the whirring sound until it came to an end. You placed it at the edge of the table that had a good view of downtown.

I knew, you knew. We both knew. I didn't demand an explanation from you, it's only fair that you don't demand one from me.

But I tried to be kind. So I said, "I don't know, I just fell out of love." I shrugged and picked up a doll's head and forced it back in its body. I picked up the other head and did the same. The popping sounds were a good distraction in my head.

"That's it? You want to end it because you fell out of love?" you said, your voice rising to its usual crescendo when you were irritated. It didn't have the same hold on me as it did before.

I knew you were waiting for me to say something more, but I was comfortable in my silence. I was comfortable in the truth I held--and withheld--from you. I had my closure the moment you looked outside the relationship. Anything I would say to you would just be a rehash of what I had told myself in the days and nights when I thought long and hard to let you go. I was blindsided, yes. But if love is blind, then that was the moment I became un-blinded. I disassembled the Lego blocks and placed them in the box by the cabinet.

I couldn't understand why you want to salvage a relationship that you yourself doomed. Was it because despite all the flirtatious exchanges you've had with him--and God knows what you did in his car when you were alone--you were still not quite sure with him? Was I the safety net before you made the jump? And now that I ended it, you were left hanging in the air like an amateur trapeze swinger unsure of what to hold on to. Well, good for you.

"Aren't you even going to say something?" you asked. "If it's something I did, I'm sorry."

I heard the crack in your voice. But it lacked the sincerity of the truly repentant. What I heard was an ego crashing to the floor after the dump. I picked up the train and the truck and placed them in the cabinet. When I walked close to the table, you held my hand and said that you still love me. That whatever our problem was, we could overcome it. Inside my head, I laughed. How silly.

I took the wind-up toy, but you held my arm so tight that it flew from my hand and landed on the floor. Upended and with a visible crack on the surface, it made a weak whirring sound.

"Now, look what you've done," I said in a voice that was cold as ice. I looked you straight in the eyes--the first time I ever did that day--and clenched my jaw. I wanted to say a lot of things to you. I gave you my heart like that wind-up toy, but you flung it across the air and broke it. I picked up the toy and placed it back in the cabinet. That would be the last thing I own that you would ever break.

This is a work of fiction. Characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and not to be construed as real. In no way does it intend to represent any real event or person, living or dead. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
(November 2014)


  1. "That would be the last thing I own that you would ever break."

    Gahhh, that resolution! Kudos to you! All the best :) (I said these after wiping tears from my eyes)

    1. Were you slicing and dicing onions? That happens to me, too. Haha. Kidding. Thanks! All the best, too. :)


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