I only remember seeing his back walking away. In that moment, I didn't cry silken tears or feel full of emptiness, no; I just stood there, unthinking, which is perhaps much worse.
The balcony suddenly seemed thousands of feet in the air. Dizziness swept over me. I walked inside. She was standing by the mirrored closet, chin against her chest, eyes wide and fixed on me. I centered a glare on her and allowed my eyes to ice over. I couldn't believe this woman was my mother. I felt ages older than her, and I allowed this feeling to fill me with the triumph that I needed to sweep by this devestating moment, uncaring, unthinking: a wave of unemotion washing over this memory. It felt good to imagine myself better than her. You let him go.
Her mouth opened and closed several times with indignation and sorrow at my reaction. I ignored that too. The door became my ally upon my hearing its resounding crash.
Minutes passed. I sat unmoving on my bed. I was grateful for the white walls, the bland carpet, the sterility of the place. The only thing in my world was the creaking of the floor as I heard my mother walk throughout the rooms. Several times her footsteps stopped in front of my door. My heart stopped as I felt her change her mind and walk away.
A heard a deep baritone out in the living room. For the first time in hours, I moved, jumping across the tiny room to the door. I stopped. It wasn't him. I sat back down. Heard my mother's desperate voice steadily rise in pitch throughout the conversation with the monitone, baritone voiced stranger. Silence. He left. She moved. I knew my time had come. She would be vulnerable now.
"Who was that?" I said to her back, bent over the stove, gravity pulling her down.
In a surprisingly swift motion, she whipped a tearstained face to me. Red eyes blazed accusingly. I knew my eyes grayed and my face went slack in shocked response, but she interpreted this as further insolence.
"Who was that? WHO WAS THAT?! I'll tell you, since you were so kind to ask. It was my father. My father coming to tell me that Rob was a worthless loser. An imbecile. A shocking horror of a person. But he didn't say it with his voice. OH NO. He didn't say it with that bland, piss-clean smooth-talker voice of his. NO. He said it with the crease between his eyebrows as they drew together in response to my desperate laughter. He said it that fucking ANNOYING, NEUROTIC tic along his flabby, sagging jawline. He said it in his INNOCENT comments on his failing health, trying to make me feel guilty for being sad, for DARING to utter my troubles aloud to such a simpering, poor, feeble old man."
Her voice fell. She could never be angry for long.
"Yes, my father. I dared to hope that I could tell him about telling the love of my life to leave. I dared to think that somehow, he would ..."
I had sagged, trembling, into a chair at the kitchen table some moments before. She turned to me. That needed triumph now gleamed in her eyes.
"Well," she said, smile slowly spreading, "so I'm finally able to make you cry."