For most people, when the clock strikes 6, it means freedom. That’s not the case for Adam. Adam dreads the end of the day—when the sun goes down and work day is done. He has to go home. He has to go home to her.
He sighed as he admitted defeat. This is a low season for the company. Work is light and people should be happy. Adam would give anything to bury himself in piles of work.
Slowly, he made his way home, trying to find an excuse to go elsewhere. He looked at the supermarket and decided to shop for unnecessary goods. As he passed by the international food section, he remembered that she love eating Korean food. He hated it because he never got used to the taste, but he endured all that when they were dating. He thought maybe, just for old time’s sake, he’ll cook her some kimchi fried rice.
She was in the same spot as always when he gets home; sitting at the left side of a two-seater sofa staring at her reflection on the television. She greeted her with a small smile. He shook his head and made his way to the kitchen.
“Did you have a great time at work, dear?” She loves using that word when she teases him. He thought that maybe, if he ignored her, she will stop and just disappear.
Adam knows that it reached pass delusion to hold on to something that’s already gone. Maybe this would help. Maybe if he decides to stay out late or to finally move out, then he can finally start anew.
“You hate Korean food, why would you buy some?” she asked. He looked at her but didn’t answer. She was still smiling, like nothing happened. He cursed and threw the bag of grocery in the trash can.
He took the seat beside her. He was careful not to make any contact. He massaged his temple, trying to find reason.
“What are you still doing here?” he asked eyes closed as he massages his temple. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
“What do you mean?” the pain was clear in her voice. “I thought you want me here. You said it yourself before. You didn’t want me to go.”
He rested his elbows on his knees and looked at her.
“So, I’m here.” She said happily again.
“You were not happy like this before. I just didn’t see it.”
“You keep blaming yourself for what happened. It was my decision.” The way she said it struck him deep and hard. It was as if it was the simple and obvious answer.
“This doesn’t really answer any of my questions,” he said. His eyes still locked on her.
“No, not really. Sorry.”
He remembers her apologizing a lot, even for the littlest things, and things she shouldn’t apologize for. Yet she smiled, she laughed and she loved. And she was loved. It just wasn’t clear for him, for anyone—and he blamed himself for that. He laid beside her every night, ate meals together and talked at the end of the day. He didn’t see it. How could he? She was always smiling.
“I’m at peace,” she said, or at least what he thought could be the simplest way to accept it.
It was a comforting yet haunting thing, he thought. For now, maybe this will do.
He stared at the golden band on the table that has been cold for three months. Though the room is dark and empty, she’ll certainly be back again tomorrow.