Empty Words

“Say something, Annah.”

We were seated at the kitchen table.  The sun shone through the window above the sink and its beams bathed us in light.  I had always loved that window.  It had been the main reason I’d rented the small apartment.  The fact that the building was only a short walk away from my work and that it was located in a good neighborhood had been great selling points, but when I saw the way the room glowed in the sun, it was a done deal.  It made the living space so much homier.  Warmer.  Normally at this time I would be seated at the table with a warm cup of tea, my tired face turned to the window to soak up the rays while I ate breakfast and listened to the morning news.  That was not the case today.

John sat across from me, his face drawn tight, lips pressed in a thin line.

“I’m sorry,” I murmured.

“You’re sorry?” John’s humorless laugh felt out of place in the cheery room.  “Well, that’s just fantastic.”

I looked down at my hands curled in my lap.

“So it’s all true then,” he stated.

“No!  Well, yes some of it,” I stammered.

His chair clattered to the ground and he strode towards the door with purpose.

“Wait!”  I threw myself in front of him, my body blocking his way out.

“Get out of the way, Annah.”

“Don’t go,” I begged, “I’m so sorry, baby.”

“I don’t want – I can’t talk about thi-”

“I messed up!  I didn’t think!  I was wrong to do what I did, I was just so drunk,” words tumbled out of my mouth unhindered, “it seemed like an okay idea at the time, you know?  But-”

“Shut up.”

I shrunk back against the door at the force in his words.

John had his arms crossed over his chest, and I recognized the signs as his barely contained anger rose to the surface.  I’d seen that face plenty of times – it had just never previously been directed at me.  Anyone else who knew him would have let him walk out the door.  Anyone else would have realized talking to him in that state would achieve nothing.  But I was not anyone else.  I was stubborn.  And determined.

“John! Please, just listen to me,” I pushed him back towards the kitchen.

“I don’t want to listen to anything you have to say.”

“I’m sorry!” I screamed.  “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

“I don’t care,” he spat at me.  “You can scream how sorry you are at the top of your lungs and I won’t ever give a shit.”

He tried once again to stride past me to the door but I grabbed his wrist and pulled him around to face me.  I felt tears begin to fill my eyes and I combed my mind for something, anything, I could say that would make him stay.

“If you would just listen to me for a moment,” I screamed in frustration, “then I could explain what hap-”

“Explain?” John’s eyes were wild as he yelled back. “Explain what? How the fuck do you expect to just explain away what you did?”

Wet trails tracked down my face as my eyes shed tears unrestrained. “I shouldn’t have done it, I messed up okay?  But that doesn’t mean you can just walk out of here like it’s the end of everything and not listen to anything I say!”

“I don’t need to listen!  What could you possibly say, Annah?  It happened, and that,” John snarled, “makes me sick.  I can hardly even look at you.”

I gasped at the disgust that colored his voice.  “John.”

His face was set in a stony look of indifference, but I knew more anger shimmered dangerously close to the surface.

“Please, just listen to me,” I pleaded as I stepped toward him.

“Listen to you?” John roared.  “Listen?  I’ve been listening to you Annah!  And all I hear is bullshit excuses that don’t make up for anything you did!”

“It’s not bullshit!”  I shrieked.  “I’ve meant everything I’ve said.  I’m sorry!  You have no idea how sorry.  I fucked up, I know it did.  But he didn’t mean anything, John.  I swear.  He was nothing!  An accident!  I love y-”

The sound of his hand slapping against my cheek cracked through the room.  I cried out in pain and shock as I stumbled back and slumped down onto the floor.

The room was heavy with tension as I gaped up at him from my spot on the floor, my face cradled in my hand.  Every part of John’s body was stiff with anger as he stared down at me.  Disbelief colored his eyes and his fists balled at his sides.  My hand shook as I tried to wipe away my tears.

“Annah.”

John reached out toward me and I flinched away.  I didn’t want him to touch me.  I didn’t want him in my apartment anymore.

“Don’t touch me,” I whispered brokenly.

“I’m sorry,” his voice cracked with emotion.

I hated those two words then.  They felt so … empty.  Worthless.  They did nothing to ease the sting in my cheek, or to dry the tears on my face.  John turned again to leave and I just watched from my spot on the floor, hand still held to my face, and I made no move to stop him.

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