The last leaves of late autumn cling to skeletal trees. They rustle in a bitter wind and I know it is you.
This time of year, the merriment of the holidays cannot stave off the end-of- days darkness. It is you, rattling your chains, keeping me from sleep.
I could sense you last night, as I lay in your bed with someone else. I had the ceiling painted haint blue but still I smell tobacco and bourbon in a house where neither of these can be found in the daylight. Burnt matches in the sink. Ice cubes rattle in a glass in a room no one is in.
I have thrown away your clothes, your shoes, your wedding ring. I did not give any of these to charity. What charity would it be to me to find your shoes on another man’s feet walking down the street? Still, I see you. That coat in front of me at the Post Office. That mustache on the barista. That thumbprint of a bruise on my neck.
Your letters, I have burnt. I do not need to see your pledges of love, your apologies, your threats; they ring enough in my battered head.
All these things, I purged from the little house we once shared. It does not matter. Like a leviathan unmoored from some sepulchral trench, you summon the pieces of you I forgot or couldn’t find, the fingernail clippings, the hairs in the razor in the medicine cabinet, the blood beneath the floorboards. All these on the harshest December night meet and mingle, rising and converging upon me.
When my love awakens tomorrow morning, in your bed, I will be as cold as this season’s first snow.
A version of this flash first appeared in Second Chance Lit April 2022.