This month’s Song Fic is inspired by “Albatross” by Susan McKeown. Have a listen if you want:
I’m going off the last verse of the song for my fic, which is super super short…
And I told you I would hold you
when my arms were still sore
but it’s freezing and the beating of your wings
and I just can’t take anymore
I watched the losing in your eyes
and I saw your tear-stained face
like a ghost like a promise
She sat on the edge of the bed, staring straight ahead, refusing to look at me as I packed my bag. Her fingers twisted together, knuckles white, and though the tears had stopped, I could still see the dried tracks they’d left on her pale cheeks. I zipped the bag, cringing at how loud it was and how she flinched at the sound.
Christ. I should have done this when she was at her mom’s or sleeping. But I’d told myself that was the coward’s way out, and the very least I owed her was to own what I was doing to us. To her.
The last thing I wanted was to cause her any more pain. She’d had her life’s share and then some. My leaving? It hurt her, I knew that, but I had no clue how to make it better, because my staying – being here everyday, for the last few months, trapped in this house with its memories and aching emptiness – was hurting her too.
We both needed to be alone to heal. To deal with what we’d lost. That was what I told myself every second, anyway. It was the only way I could walk away from her. Telling myself it was for her as much as for me. And it was. I knew, to her, I was as much a reminder of the tiny life lost as she was to me.
“I’ll call,” I said quietly, lifting the bag and standing awkwardly, half-wishing she’d look at me but dreading it at the same time.
The moment she did, it was the punch in the gut I’d expected. The pain, the loss, the accusation in her tear-filled blue eyes…
“I’ll call,” I said again, stepping forward then freezing when she held up a hand.
Her voice, hoarse and ragged, tore at me, and I almost dropped the bag I clutched and went to her. Almost.
“I love you. That…” I swallowed around the massive lump in my throat. “That’s as true as it ever was.”
The corner of her mouth quirked up the tiniest bit. “I know.”
She stared at me, not returning the declaration, though beneath everything else, I could see she still loved me. We loved each other. It just wasn’t enough, right now. She nodded toward the door, chest jerking with her hitching breaths. She was trying not to cry… Fuck.
I closed the space between us and dropped a kiss on the top of her head before turning away from her and rushing from the room, from the house, my chest tight and eyes stinging.
Once in the car, I swiped at my eyes as I started the car. I pulled out of the driveway and drove away. The farther I got from the house I got, the lighter I felt, the easier I breathed. And I hated myself for that.