Short Fiction: The Colourful Break-Up

She looks at me incredulously. She repeats, softly this time, “I want out.” I respond softly, “I know, babe. You got it.”

The day begins with a break-up.

She is fidgety. Anxious, nervous maybe — I can’t tell. The colors have disappeared from the day.

No, it isn’t because of the break-up. Most certainly not. The colors have been gone for some months now. Life had been good some months ago. Too good. I had the perfect girl. The best job. A great apartment. A gorgeous cat. My limbs worked. My building elevator hadn’t snagged my precious cardigans in a very long time.

She walks up to me, her face red, temple shining with beads of sweat that trickled down her neck. And that’s when I know it’s over. It’s a cold September evening.

“Hi,” she whispers, pulling the chair closer to our table.

“Hey,” I respond, memorizing her face, her nose, her chin, her lips, her eyes that seem clouded, yet empty all at the same time. I smile at her palms wringing. She smiles back at mine doing the same.

“So…” she starts. I interrupt. I’m hungry. We’re breaking up. Might as well eat and be content while I’m doing it, right?

“I want to have the bagel. I’m dying for a bagel right now,” I say.

She politely smiles and says, “Sure, why not? A bagel sounds great.”

Another sign she’s done with us. With me. She hates bagels. She hates the damn things well enough for us to never have had a bagel breakfast for the entirety of our relationship.

Eh, well. What are you going to do, you know.

We order the bagels and a couple of milkshakes. I wait for her to start a conversation; anything will do at this point. She does the same. We awkwardly glance at each other, desperate for something to talk about. Anything.

I comment on a painting on the wall of the place. And with that, we have run out of conversations to have with each other. Two people in love. Nothing to say. Nothing to hear. Nothing to be.

“I want out,” she blurts suddenly, banging the table with her palms.

I jump, breathe heavily, maintain my composure, and respond, “I know.” I bite into my bagel, chewing it slowly, studying the bubbles in my milkshake.

She looks at me incredulously. She repeats, softly this time, “I want out.” I respond softly, “I know, babe. You got it.”

She shakes her head, unable to digest my responses. She continues, “We have been drifting apart for quite some time now. I mean, I can’t be with someone who doesn’t get me.”

I smile. We have drifting apart for quite some time now? I didn’t know. I didn’t know about this! No! Have you met someone? Are you in love with this other girl? Does she make you happier than I do? Is that why you’re leaving?

“I understand,” I mutter, nibbling on my bagel, dropping soft crumbs onto my lap.

She sniffs, “See this? This is what I’m talking about. I just told you that I want out. And it doesn’t affect you one bit. Not one bit. You don’t love me!”

Am I working too hard? Am I not around enough for you? What is it, my love? Please tell me, maybe we can work it out. I love you so much. I never want you gone.

“I’m just tired,” I mumble.

“I’m so done with you. Listen, I can’t do this anymore. I have to get out of here,” she says, and reaches for her purse to leave money for the check.

I slap my hand on the table and say, “Don’t worry, I got this.”

I leave money on the table, and start walking away from her.

She follows me out, touches my shoulder gently once and whispers, “Why aren’t you stopping me?”

Because you didn’t care enough to talk to me about your problems. Because you didn’t think it necessary to let me know you were feeling left behind. Because you didn’t tell me something was wrong. Because you dumped me.

I look her in the eye, an icy grin on my face, as if I know how much this next line will hurt her, and whisper back, “Because, life goes on… With or without you.”

I walk away, marveling at the color of the bright chrysanthemums by the pavement. Were they always this pretty?

About the author

Mansi Shanbag

Avid traveler, antisocial party-er, obsessive reader and occasionally funny person; I write to escape my life, and I live to escape my writings.