"I need some time on my own." Her voice was stern as she tried to be as strong as possible.

"What you need is someone to talk to. I know you're just going to sit and cry, Cass. Why don't you ever let me stay?"

"Because I solve my problems better on my own. I don't need you there when I cry."

"Cass, come on." His tone was pleading. "We go through this all the time. You say this now, but--"

"In a few days I'll be okay and you'll be back." She paused to look at him. "I know. And, you know. So, what does it matter if I need some time now?"

"I don't want to go."

"Please, Collin, just let me have some time."

"I'm not sure how much more time I can give you, Cass." There was a disappointment laced in his words. "I understand needing some time, but not every couple of weeks."

"I'm sorry I don't fit what you can comprehend." She was angry. "Maybe we're just not meant to be together anymore."

Silence came down on the room as he stood there trying to figure out what to say. A hundred thoughts filled his head, but no words came to his lips. He tried as hard as he could to say something--anything. But, nothing came.

Giving in to the loss, he turned and walked out the door. Not completely understanding what had just transpired, Cassie listened to the sound of his footsteps dissipating down the hall. Her heart skipped as the soft thuds went silent.

Sitting down on the sofa, she turned on the television to take her mind off of what was going on. The last thing she wanted to do was sit alone and dwell on the fact that he was gone. Picking up the remote, she switched on the television and began changing channels. Sliding into a rift of mindless channel surfing, she inched towards nodding off to sleep.

The remote dropped out of her hand as her head dropped down quickly and bounced back up just as fast. Cassie wondered how long she had been sleeping. Peering out the window, she could see the first lights of the sun rising up over the trees. A slight panic jumped into her because she had slept through the whole night on the sofa.

Jumping up, she started towards her bathroom to get ready for work. She stopped in the doorway when she caught sight of the digital clock on the vanity. It was only 8:45pm. She had dozed off for about half an hour.

Turning around to go back to the sofa, she got about five steps before turning back towards her bedroom. Pausing again to turn towards the kitchen, she actually made a choice. The tile was cold on her bare feet but she really did not care. Stretching to the top of the refrigerator, she reached down a bottle of wine.

Popping the cork, Cassie grabbed a water glass and filled it nearly to the top. Taking a nice long sip, she headed back in the direction of her bedroom. Leaving an open wine bottle on the counter was her trademark when she was upset. And she was, even though she had not noticed yet.

Lowering the glass as she stepped into the room, she noticed that the bed was made. An unusual sight for her apartment because she never made the bed—Collin did. A sinking feeling jumped into her as she looked at the bed. Absent-mindedly, she turned away and made a v-line for the sofa.

Stopping short just before the sofa, her attention was drawn to the sound of footsteps coming down the hallway. Shifting her glance towards the door, she watched the handle turn and click. As the door pushed open, Collin's figure came into the doorway. A sideways glance was all he got from her.

"I'll only be a minute." He knew she was still mad. "I just came back to get my coat."

"Okay." Her answer was blank as she just stood there staring at him.

Her mind made a note of the sound of his feet on the floors of the apartment and how comforting that sound was. She heard the creaking of the closet hinges as he went for his jacket. Even the squeaky floorboard next to the bed was comforting to hear.

Emerging from the bedroom, he looked right into her eyes. There was so much he wanted to say, but again, nothing was coming out. A silent agreement passed between them, but she had no clue what it was for. As he moved passed her towards the door, he turned back one more time. The look of sadness was all over his face. Seeing that she was still unmoving, he slipped out the door.

In her dazed state, Cassis could not do anything but at the door where he had been standing. His footsteps drifted into her head as they disappeared down the hall. Thirty-two. The number was right there in front of her. But, she did not know what it meant. It was just a number.

Letting out the breath she was holding, Cassie looked around her apartment. Everything still seemed the same way as it had before he left; cans on the table next to dirty plates, clothes all over the floor, shoes and socks in a pile in the corner. She put her glass down next to the television. Bending down to pick up one of the shirts, she realized what had really happened. Collin was gone.

He had been gone before. And, he always came back in a few days just when she realized how much she really needed him. But what if he didn't come back this time? The realization the he might just be fed up with her choices hit her. He might actually be gone for good this time.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she dropped onto the sofa. What had she done? She had no answer. At least not a good one. She always did the same thing when she felt like the world was crashing down: push everyone close away. And that is what she was doing to Collin once again.

This was it. She knew it. He was never coming back because she never realized until now that when she needed him most was when she pushed him away. Thinking it all over, she would have never stayed had she been him. She never gave him a reason to stay, let alone come back.

She could not hold on any longer. Cassie broke down into blubbering sobs as she thought about all the times she had been so unfair to Collin by making him leave. Everything was her fault, and she knew it now. But he was not coming back this time. She knew that, too. Any person with half a brain would run far and fast.

Her head fell into her hands as she continued to cry. There had to be some way to explain what she was doing and why. The biggest problem was that she did not even know why she was doing it. Thirty-two. There was that number again slipping into her thoughts. But, where did it come from?

The creaking of the door hinges drew her out of her daze. Turning her head slowly, she saw something out of the corner of her eye. There he was, standing in the doorway again, acting like he never left. She did not know what to do.

"Cassie, I'm sorry." He saw the tears on her cheeks.

"Why?" Her voice was a soft whisper through the tears. "Why are you sorry? I'm the one who can't see what's going on." There was a pause between them as they each awaited the other's move. "Thirty-two."

"Thirty-two? What does that mean?"

"It's how many steps it takes you to get out the door." A goofy smile came to her face. "I counted them each time you left."


She bolted from the sofa right into his arms. Her tears began to flow like rain as she stood there in his embrace. The very embrace she had convinced herself she would never have again. His arms were fastened tight as they just existed together in that moment.

"I missed you."

Her tears were making her a voice a whisper as she tried so hard to hold any more back. He moved back slightly so he could see her face. Looking down into her eyes, he smiled and brushed a tear from her cheek. Leaning down slowly, he kissed her forehead.

"I missed you, too."