The rain pounded on the metal roof of the car. It smattered against the glass. Filtered by those creeping droplets on the windows, the streetlight shadows animated the surfaces of the couple’s still faces. Cynthia, her thinly plucked eyebrows raised, looked at his hands as they gripped the steering wheel. A nervous tick of his, for the car was in park. Her eyes moved to his face, becoming icier as each moment passed from what he has just said. His words, sans a jesting follow-up, were now poison poured into the spiraling insides of her ears.
“You what?” she whispered, the question swallowed up by the crescendo of the smacking water on the vehicle.
Trevor looked at his hands for a moment before releasing their grip on the wheel. Biding time, he started to massage the meat between his right hand’s index finger and thumb, a habit he’d adopted after a reflexologist had demonstrated the art of self shiatsu during a wellness lecture. The area he pressed at was connected to the brain; use this method when you experience headaches. “I can’t do this anymore,” he repeated. “We can’t keep this up. It’s not good for either of us and we both know that. I hate to be the one to say it, but it has to be said, Cynthia.”
The noise her throat made belonged the growl family. Calling it a scoff would be too lenient. “I fucking hate it when you address me by my name and you know that.” Her tone jumped a decibel.
This was exactly the kind of thing she always said. Crazy shit. Why would someone not want to be called by their name? Doesn’t it make for a more personable address? He wanted the reason behind the quirk, so he said, “Why is that? Most people are cool with being called by their names, considering it is their name.”
“Because it’s so goddamn formal. Because it reminds me of my mother. Because I don’t like my name. Need I continue?” She stared at the rain splattering on her window and then to the windshield. The droplets looked different on each surface. The window caught their round shape and let each drop slide down individually whereas the windshield turned each separate drop into a unified sheet that blobbed down as one, like curtains blowing in the wind or a bed sheet hung out to dry in the summer breeze.
“You fucking suck,” Trevor told her. “You really just compared me to your mother? Good God, I’m sick of being the catalyst to all this fear you have built up from your past. I’m not going to play that role, babe. No fun. If you can’t move on, if you can’t hear your goddamn name without becoming a huge fucking bitch, then I’m sure as hell not going to put another ounce of my time into trying to make this work between us. You’re a drain on my happiness and you fucking know it. Find someone who gets off on that kind of thing and hold on to them as long as you can, because I am out of here.”
She looked at him looking at her. “Ah yes, another goodbye. I’m used to them, Trev–or, but you knew that already, didn’t you?”
He smacked his hand into the steering wheel. “I am telling you to get out of my car. Open your door. Walk away,” he stated calmly, turning his head toward the windshield and to the car parked against the curb in front of him.
They were outside her apartment. He didn’t care it was pouring rain outside. He wanted her out. They’d been dragging this breakup out for weeks, neither of them strong enough to turn down the easy sex and comfort of familiarity, even if whatever they’d had had dry-rotted months ago. He was serious about ending it this time. He was prepared to fully shut her off, because the partial contact that still remained between them had not helped at all. He had told her a month ago that he needed to get out and she had clung on like a tick buried well beneath the surface of his skin.
She breathed heavily, this time expelling an unclassifiable noise into the airspace between them. Then she reached in her purse for her keys. She pulled her hand out and quickly stuck a penknife into the jugular vein on the right side of his neck. With her right hand, she pressed the top of a small can of pepper spray into his eyes and nose before repeatedly jabbing at the areas surrounding the initial hole she’d bored into his neck.
The cool rain warmed immediately as it hit her scalp and trickled down to her face when she stepped from the passenger’s seat. She didn’t need much from inside her apartment. A change of clothes, a bathroom bag of toiletries and makeup. When she walked down the stoop of her building, she noticed the steamed-up windows of Trevor’s car and cocked her head to try and get one last look at the boy, but the windows were too foggy. Another ex. Another one who couldn’t learn. Dust bitten.
Cynthia Freeman walked down the hilly street toward the glowing sign of a gas station at the bottom. The rain began to ease.