March Prompt: Letters and/or Numbers.
Submission Date: 03/12/08
Word Count: 748
The watch face was invisible to him in the dark and although he was unable to see it in the ghostly shadows of the room, he knew the look and feel of it by heart. The delicate roman numerals and gold leaf hands gave a simple feminine elegance to a piece that told the time with reliable Swiss accuracy. His fingers played across the Marquisette bows that linked into the slim band and clasp, nudging his memory and rekindling deeply buried emotions. Feelings, he knew would rush up and hit him with the force of a tidal wave, if he didn't put the watch back in the drawer and walk away. But he knew from past experience it was impossible to stop the inevitable, not now that he had already opened the drawer and himself to the moment, the memories.
His fingers stilled as his mind filled with pictures of her and recollections of tender moments together. Times of loving that brought them together with vibrant passion and times of anger that after it had all blown over, had put a horrible distance between them. Days and nights of bickering or not talking, then coming together in the wild frenzy of making up, repairing the damage of harshly spoken words and anger. There was never indifference or apathy in their relationship, but a fire, he believed would never go out. He had been sure the bonds that tied them together were unbreakable, that nothing would shake the foundations of love, trust and understanding. But he'd been wrong.
He should not have picked up the watch; he would have had an escape had he left it closed away in the drawer. This day, of all days, he could not leave well enough alone. Her birthday!
He could bear the sadness the sight and touch of the watch evoked. But the desire to hold her, feel her arms sliding around him in the dark warmth and safety of their bed, stole over him like a dull grey mist eating at his soul. Dredging up too many memories and passions too long unfulfilled. There had been many women in the years since, cold, brief affairs, couplings to slake baser needs. No love, warmth or tenderness, just the barest human contact to remind him he was still alive. He honestly could not stand the thought of making the effort to get to know somebody else. She had been his only love, his only true friend and confidant. He had never contemplated replacing her, nor wanted to watch some woman touch her things, sit in her chair, lay in her bed.
He was a mess and he knew it. Years had done nothing to soften his betrayal, her betrayal. Perhaps his absolute resistance to starting a new relationship was a form of punishment. He had suspected for many years that this was so. Again he took himself through all the stupid actions and reactions that had brought them to the horrible impasse in their lives.
He had called her a 'fool' for wanting children, told her they were just fine as they were; childless. She had cried, begged and pleaded with him to reconsider, to make them a real family. His absolute refusal resulted in her packing and leaving. His mind's eye saw her standing at the front door, tears of anger and frustration marring her beautiful face as she told him he was a heartless bastard and not to bother trying to contact her. They were finished.
He had tried many times, over long years to find her, desperate to reconcile their differences, even make the family she had so longed for, but to no avail. She had disappeared without a trace. Obviously unwilling to be found. So once more, the whole course of their time together had been gone over, examined and had left him crushed yet again.
The watch had been a gift to her on her twenty fifth birthday and he had believed she loved it, more than all the other presents he had ever given her. Apparently he had destroyed her love of the gift, as he had destroyed her love for him. He reached out and placed his only memento of her, back into its box and closed the drawer. His only hope being, that one year he would refuse to open the draw, refuse to exhume the past and examine it in such finite detail. Refuse to hurt himself again. Stop asking himself, who was the fool?