I noticed it first the day that you left. By lunchtime you were gone, and I sat at the table in my apartment’s tiny kitchen, so much bigger now that you wouldn’t be stopping by again. And in front of me on that table, lying on the polished surface, like it was just taking a break, was the tip of my left pinkie. I stared at it for a few moments then swept it quickly into my hand and shoved it into the third drawer down, the junk drawer.
That’s strange, I thought.
I’ll deal with it later, I thought.
And then, the next day, remembering our first date as I waited for the subway amid the crowds jostling for the best position. Remembering how you held my hand and the way the streetlights sparkled through the rain. “Excuse me,” someone said as she passed in a blur, bumping into my arm and rousing me from memory. My elbow detached, so gently, sloughing off like an old skin into my jacket’s sleeve. I shrugged it out into my hand and pocketed it without even looking down. No big deal.
Again, at the restaurant where we used to meet after a long day of work and before we each went home. A toe loose in my shoe, rolling around like a rock, making every step home now more painful than the last. Again, at the park on a Saturday morning, surrounded by the green and blue of tree and sky. Pieces of me, falling off, bit by bit.
An ear here, a finger there. Hair. My left shoulder. My right heel. I faithfully kept everything I could, dumped it in a drawer or a shoe box or under the bed. I kept telling myself I’d get around to dealing with it as soon as I had time.
It happened in the shower as I got ready for another endless day, or when I sat in the dark on my couch watching our favorite movie. It happened when I woke in the morning and nearly reached for the phone to call and hear your voice, at my office desk checking for emails that had stopped coming in. It happened everywhere I went.
One morning at breakfast I turned to look out the window that faced the next building’s wall, trying to catch a glimpse of the new day and think of anything but you. But I couldn’t ignore the problem any longer when my remaining ear fell into my oatmeal. So, sighing, I fished it out and went to the sink to rinse it off. I had never understood what a chore just standing could be when so much of your self is missing.
I limped around the apartment that day, gathering those pieces one by one, placing them in rows on the soft blue coverlet on my bed. It seemed so futile. How could I dream of reconstructing this shattered body? Too much was broken. Despite my best efforts, too much was lost.
It was you, I know. You started it, but I suppose it was still my fault.
I should never have let you walk off with my heart in the first place.