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Crumbling

“She had me at 'Hello, I'm Catherine'.” He reproached himself, even in the act of the confession which, newly admitted, had nevertheless been a reality from the moment of the encounter. She had extended a slender hand with long fingers which he had taken, feigning disinterest.

“She must have known it, too. There is no way that a woman like that doesn't recognise the reaction she elicits in a man.” There was a vicious quality – almost childish spitefulness – in his words which he disliked hearing but he also knew that it would fade in time and become just another event in his life that finished unhappily, preempted – to be filed away under 'experiences best left behind'.

He couldn't stop thinking about her – missing her.

That was the complicating factor in allowing the whole episode to become a part of the past. It was her constant presence as a shadow in his life; the memories and, even the sound of her voice, made it as though she had never gone at all.

“What sort of fool wouldn't want her – to enjoy that sort of attention?” Again, there was, in the tone of his voice while speaking aloud, an edge - a timbre tinged with anger or resentment. Even then, her image was before him

“After all, it wasn't I that came on strong. She could have left well enough alone and none of this would have happened. It would have been better that way ... to have never met.”

That statement, in light of his own state of mind, made him smirk with bitter irony.

“... too late for that to happen – not happen.”

He shook his head violently, trying to clear his thoughts but none of the dark confusion would fall away and reveal - like the Sahara's sands shift and, occasionally, produce an ancient city – some concrete truth upon which his mind could pose and say, 'Ah yes, that's it. Now I understand.' Instead, there were only more sifting sands and anger.

The anger came in the wake of the inevitable recriminations; the 'you did this to me' assertions that could only reflect one view of a much more subtly hued image  when seen in it's entirety; two people – and possibly more – with individual trails through life collecting successes and failures, drawn together and, in a moment, finding themselves unprepared to actually see one another.

“Don't judge me. You don't know who I am. I didn't need you in the first place – I guess you felt the same way. Where is the problem?”

His fist fell heavily on the table before him, rattling the freshly washed mugs and glasses. The anger troubled him most; that gnawing aggressiveness, bound and gagged, at the base of the skull but which fought for freedom. In battling and finding no resolution or abatement, it only threatened to become rancor and ranker in time, discolouring the future.

“It shouldn't be made my problem and my deficit. I treated you no different than you treated me – until I lost patience. If you have no interest, then don't talk to me. I'm OK with that. I promise you.”

There was a truth in that, he felt - a kind of reflective sameness that had been revealed. Yes, there was pride involved – two individuals given to a strong mind-set and independence, there was no doubting it. Perhaps, in the end, unprepared, being so strong alone, to even risk that comfortable solitude for something else, undefined.

“Maybe two sides of the same coin aren't so different,” he commented.

He was tired and lacking sleep. It had, no doubt, left him in such a peevish mood as to dwell on things that should have been long gone from his mind. He scrolled his neck and stood.

Around him, the place was silent, giving him to know that there was no one around. He wasn't sure that anyone really ever had been. He walked slowly to the door checking his pockets for the essentials and, after switching off the lights, the  door closed soundly behind him and the bolt slid into place.

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