Nat turned to go, crouching to collect his dropped hat and coat from the floor like a father gathers the broken body of a child. I wasn't ashamed. I didn't regret anything. I was still angry as I watched him place the tattered poorboy on his head and gingerly shrug on the threadbare acid wash denim. I didn't think of the days when that same jacket had lain against my bare skin, more luzurious than any silk or satin under the hot, gentle pressure of the sun. There wasn't a hint of remorse in my eyes, even as his own went glassy with hurt and resignation. There was only the clarity of hatred, dashing through my veins with all the pain and determination of a lethal injection. Headed home. No stopping it.
The static buzz of anger vibrated in my fingers as my arms crossed over my chest. I opened my mouth. More anger spilled out of it, the hot, liquid words sharply contrasting the coolness of my lips. So much pain out of something so used to smiling. So much pain.
My business was not our future. My business was not our past. My business was what there was now, in that foyer and in the words I screamed. My business was making him feel something. Feel anything. Feel any tiny shred of the pain he had caused me.
"You were always so worried about what your stupid friends thought about your stupid ideas," I was saying, a condescending smile disfiguring my wine-stained lips. "Why don't you go complain to them, now, huh? Make yourself feel better by saying it doesn't matter, because nothing fucking exists. Guess what, Nat, it does. It all fucking exists and it's all shit and what doesn't exist is what we were, okay? That was all fake. I never meant a minute of it, and I hope to God I hurt you with it. Does that make sense to you, Nat? I. Don't. Care about you. I never did. I never, ever fucking did. Does that make sense? Is that real? What, Nathaniel, in your entire pointless life, has ever made sense? What has ever fucking mattered?"
Nat straightened and turned, meeting my eyes with the searing water of anger and hurt that were his own, and I couldn't say any more. That was when I remembered the long stretches of nighttime on long stretches of highway when we talked about everything we had ever wanted to be. I remembered his car seat against my cheek as I told him about being small and scared with mom's cigarette butt smoldering in my skin. He told me about the freedom of not knowing, of waking up cold and happy in a tent somewhere in Europe with no plan for the rest of the day. I remembered the sex and I remembered the sleep and I remembered the feeling of knowing, without words, that I was loved.
What has ever mattered?
The hate was gone, and my heart was breaking when he shouted, "You."