After the morning had passed, the mother knew that he wouldn’t come home anymore. Home. The meaning of the word had changed. It made her feel sick. What he did made her feel scared to open to the door again to their flat, to her flat. She’d sit in her car outside, hands on the wheel, staring at the dark flat beyond the windows. It would always be dark when she came home. She had to turn on the lights. There was a dead person’s room at the top of the stairs. He had turned himself into a dead person. His energy when he left in a hurry that morning was still palpable, greeted her at the door, haunted her instantaneously. She had come home and he was in the morgue.
Did he even have breakfast? Did he look at himself in the mirror one more time before he shut the front door? Or did he just leave? She only returned to get her things. She wouldn’t sleep in his absence tonight. He was too far away. And what was left felt too close, too invasive, impossible to acknowledge. She looked at the stairs that led to their bedrooms and discovered the cat on one of the steps. The cat knew it too.
She rushed past his shut room that looked like all the other times he had left for work. She packed her toiletries and saw his freshly washed clothes hanging next to hers. They were still a bit wet. They had all the time in the world to dry now. His shower gels and lotions weren’t empty. He wouldn’t have any issues anymore with his skin. No need.
When she was back in the car with her cat and little suitcase, she kept her eyes on the windows, hoping that the light would switch itself on, that she’d see him walk down the stairs, make a joke with his hands telling her to come back, as if the truth could be undone, so that she could leave behind the horror in this car and walk back up to him. But the flat stayed dark and as she glanced back at it in the rear-view mirror, she felt as if she was leaving him behind, as if her world kept falling apart without her consent.
When she lay still in foreign sheets in a room not her own, she thought about his final act and all the others that preceded it. In her head, they didn’t belong together, they were incompatible. She remembered how he had always lived in his own world like his siblings did and that he enjoyed being alone because he chose to be. She didn’t move and yet her body drenched the sheets because she was thinking of his body being stored somewhere unfamiliar right now, somewhere cold. He had to be taken care of and she couldn’t do it.
She didn’t understand how he could have reached this conclusion, when it had entered his life and why it had stayed with him until it came to fruition. Was the point not to die, but simply to let go? To stay in his world without being painbound? That the freedom and autonomy of the gesture counted, his life that preceded it, not the aftermath? She existed in the aftermath. They all did. He had taken his world with him. What did he look like now? Did they clean him properly? Did he look similar to how he looked after he had come out of her? Where was he now if not within her?
The sun rose, reflected in the cat’s eyes, and somewhere else, far outside of this room, there was a sense of peace and coming together, but she could barely imagine herself stepping back into the world without him by her side.