One morning in bed, Gwen turned to Colin and said that it was over. She had never been able to do it before. Goodbyes were always fraught with worry; she worried about the appropriateness of the moment, the handholding until it was safe to let go, even the renewed bursts of passion that would distract her from why they had to go their separate ways. She worried about lying there and letting him mount her because that would mean settling back into things that she had never been able to put up with in the first place. She would settle for a few weeks. Then the sex would get better and she would delay her departure for several months. Four years had passed, but the niggling ate away at her, at first just when she was falling asleep, and then in the waking hours, like a vengeful ghost.
They loved each other. As she stood by his door with her haversack and laptop bag and three tightly packed suitcases that she would pick up one by one over the next few days, they embraced. It was a genuine one, and not one of those embraces you gave somebody because it was good manners. Colin stood by the door: this middle aged man who she still loved and admired. He always had a slight hunch, perhaps to compensate for his tallness; he had been the tallest person wherever he went. But today he was deflated.
“Perhaps I will come back,” she said.”If it’s meant to be.”
“I’m too old to leave things to Fate,” he sighed, but he harboured hope. Colin had been broke for too long, and it had been a long time since he took home a pay cheque; the prospect of finding work was daunting, more daunting now that Gwen was leaving. Perhaps he could call up his mates at the dock or the old hands at the garage who knew they could use his over-educated brain and years of experience, but it had been a long time since he used his hands. His perfect eyesight had blurred over the last few years, which made him more deliberate and deliberateness was a blessing in his trade, but too much whiskey had made his once firm grip unsteady, and his temper fractious.