I’m lying on the floor of an unfamiliar bedroom in a strange house. Despite the absence of the discarded plastic from the new mattress beneath me, the odour still manages to permeate my senses. The cushioning lacks the warmth of contours that can only come from two bodies entwined; it barely softens the harshness of my surroundings. The road outside is deadly silent, the night blacker than any I’ve seen before. I am petrified. As I try and settle into my new home, so the house seems to settle around me – every creak and every groan is a stark reminder that this isn’t my home. I’ve left mine behind.
I woke this morning in my familiar bed, comforted by soft pillows, held within our walls. I turned over and saw the sight of him in Annie’s bed, the bed he chose to sleep in rather than sharing ours with me. I longed to reach out to him, to climb into the space beside him, to curl into the shape of him, to inhale his scent and hold him one last time. Instead, I dragged myself up and out of the room that held so many memories; the place we used to make love when we first moved in together; the room I gave birth to Annie in three years previously; the prison that I cried in too many times.
In the shower I dropped to my knees sobbing, silently calling out to him to come to me, to say the words, “Please stay, we’ll work it out. I love you.” He didn’t hear me. He didn’t come.
By 6pm I’d crammed the final boxes into my car, alongside my children; Josh, Alice, Katie and Annie. Tom and I stood in the doorway of our old home, unsure what to do next – the uncertainty reminiscent of our first date, except this, this was our last. Breaking the silence, he turned and walked away. I saw the tears stain his cheeks in the same way mine should have done but I knew that if I gave in to them at that moment, I’d never leave him. Closing the door, I watched the man that I love and hate in equal measure, as his heart broke. It was the most bittersweet of goodbyes.