Smiles and Heartache by Louise Charles

His smile made my heart ache. On our first date. Kicking at a spot on the ground he looked up, his eyes fixed on mine and I was his. He took me ice-skating. I was hopeless, like a new born fawn with wobbly legs,. He caught me and captured my heart.

He brings me tea, steaming hot.

‘Wait a while,’ he says. ‘Let it cool. What would you like for breakfast?’

I don’t care. What’s the point in eating?

He blows on the cup, tiny droplets of tea spatter my face.

‘Sip,’ he says. I keep my lips shut. He places a tender kiss on my neck.

I hear him humming in the bathroom, tap running, lathering his face and the rasp of the blade as it crosses his skin. I once went everywhere he did. I urge myself to move. I would give anything to go to him, wrap my arms around his waist, lay my cheek against his warm shoulder and breathe him in. Minty toothpaste and sandalwood smells. Fresh. Clean.

He is dressed. Blue jeans, a tangerine coloured shirt and a cream, cotton jacket. A passionflower tucked in the buttonhole.

He’s still humming.  ‘My Heart Will Always Go On.’ Words that represented our love, until now.

My gaze is drawn to the deep plum satin that spills from his hands like a soft curtain.

‘Do you know what day it is?’

I blink. Yes, I remember.

‘It’s our anniversary.’ He smiles. My heart aches.

Ten years. Just me, him, and two witnesses. I wore a simple satin shift. The one that he has now placed across the bed.

It won’t fit.

‘It will fit you perfectly.’ He slips my nightgown off and I yearn for his touch, but we don’t - not anymore. The cool material caresses my skin as he lifts me up for a fleeting moment so the skirt falls and wraps around my ankles.

I wore no shoes.

‘You were barefoot. And beautiful.’

He moves a strand of hair from my face and a single tear falls onto my cheek.

‘Me. You. Us.’ He holds up three fingers, like the three cream candles we lit to symbolise our union. They had fluttered with life, with hope, with our future.

All gone. Extinguished like a flame.

He lowers me back against the pillows. ‘Don’t go.’
I have to. There’s nothing here for me. Nothing for you. No ‘us’.

‘We can see this through,’ he pleads, ‘together we can beat this.’

No, we cannot. I cannot. Trapped in a body that no longer works. You don’t know how much I want to stay. How much I long to tell you. How much I long for you to hear me. But you can’t. I’m shouting but you can’t hear me.

He lies by my side, gathering me towards him and holds my gaze.

I close my eyes, listen to my heartbeat, feel his breath on my lips.

One. Two. Three. Stop.

No more smiles. No more heartache.


A version of this was first published in 2011 on the CafeLitCreativeCafe Blog.

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