“Get out.” Her voice was nearly a whisper but he heard her clearly.
“What did you say?”
“Get out Alex, and don’t ever come back here.” Her voice was shaking, her body was still and her eyes never left his.
“Now Jen-” He jumped back when she suddenly burst toward him, his hand falling back against the island, shattering the vodka so only the jagged neck remained in his hand. The rest, was shattered in a cascade of tinted glass across the kitchen and living room floor, pieces scattering as far as the off kilter coffee table. When he gasped out in surprise, Jen seized her opportunity in a moment of blind confusion to grab the broken glass in his hand. His hands immediately rose in surrender as she aimed the jagged edges at his chest.
“Get the hell out of my house.” She growled, inching sideways towards him, slowly leaving the mid-day sunlight streaming into the apartment. Now fully bathed in residual light she saw his features for the first time that day. His face was unshaven, his clothes wrinkled around the stomach and thighs, his eyes blood-shot and bagged. He hadn’t slept since her accident. The tightness in her chest and the pang of guilt that clamped around her throat only spurred her on more. She pushed the bottle forward to gather more courage. “First you interfere in my job and now you’re controlling how I handle my personal life? Alex you have crossed way too many boundaries.” She shook her head, her voice dangerously lower and shaking from the effort to contain her emotions.
“I’m not controlling-”
“Oh really?” His back was against the front door now and she was mere feet away, the bottle quivering in her white knuckles. “And what would you call talking to my mother about sending me to rehab like I’m some junkie and not a woman who...” she chocked on the last bit of air, unable to finish.
He bit his cheek before responding. “Protecting you from yourself.”
She stopped in her tracks, something stinging her eyes that could only be considered pain. “Protect...” She couldn’t finish her sentence for fear of it being true.
“Would you rather I call the hospital directly?” A flicker of panic passed over her still glassy brown eyes
“You wouldn’t.” Her voice was cold now, tinged with fear. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“Wouldn’t I?” He tilted his head in defiance but she used the moment to stick the glass to his neck, nicking the skin there and letting a moment of blood to trickle across the glass. He gulped slowly, feeling each sharp, ragged edge of the bottleneck against his unkempt face. Reaching blindly for some sort of shield from her sudden wrath, his fingers wrapped around the brass door handle, reminding him that he was cornered with one escape left. “Jen, you know this is not the solution.”
“It isn’t?” He felt her hands shaking as her strength drained from her body; slowly. “If you were gone, everything could go back to normal.”
He was silent a long moment as her words sunk in deeper than the cut dangerously close to his jugular. “You can’t blame me for the things that have happened to you.”
“Like hell I can’t.” She breathed through her nose, sniffling in defiance to the tears which had reached the backs of her eyes. As her hand shook traitorously, she lowered it, slowly, with each exhale that Alex took. It was only until the bottle was at her side that she spoke again. “Everything horrible that has happened this year is because of you; you brought destruction into my life when I didn’t even want you here.” The tears were brimming her eyes now and she closed them to preserve her last ounce of strength. “If I could re-do the last year I never would have let you in.”
So now they were getting to the root of the problem. The little voice in his head that told him it was a bad idea was drowned out by the exhilaration that he could fix her. “Oh but so many good things have happened this year.”
“What?” She stared up at him in shock, taking a step back in surprise at his confidence.
“I mean you met a good friend-”
“-lost my husband.”
“Really opened up to new experiences-”
“-cheated on my husband.”
“Reconnected with your mother-”
“-almost lost my mother.”
“You finally started living-”
“-and I nearly died.” The words hung in the air on strings, dangling just above their heads before falling to the floor and leaving the room heavy and warm. Somehow she’d made it back to her place by the kitchen island, staring up at him with a quivering lip and a shaking grip on the glass bottle. Seeing her so close the edge he took a chance.
“Jen-” When she felt him take a step towards her, she squeezed her eyes tighter.
“Get out!” The first time she raised her voice and the entire room shook with its strength. On a reflex, he took a step back, his hand finding the nob and twisting it. The click was deafening. With one last glance towards the shaking woman in the middle of the kitchen, he thought twice about leaving her with the broken bottle.
“Jen can I-” He closed the door as she threw the bottle at him, shattering the glass across the floor with the rest of its family. Fearing he may returning and hoping he would try, she rushed to the door, leaning her weight into it as she flipped the lock and holding her hand there as reassurance that it would stay locked. Once she was certain, she closed her eyes and dropped her head against the door, exhaling on an ‘oh’ as she felt the tears finally expel from her body; leaving her to flow to the floor. Shell shocked, her legs betrayed her and she collapsed to the ground, ignoring the crunching glass beneath her feet and hands. Curled up against the door she brought her hand up to rest under her nose and she released a breathless laugh as the smell of blood filled her nostrils. The laugh broke into a sob on its way to the bottom, and her hand remained where it was as her tears silently fell.
She stared out the remains of the last five minutes. Broken glass scattered the apartment, the coffee table was sideways to the couch where the sun was still beating down on the corduroy that stained her cheek and hand. The sunlight still filled the living room and streaked halfway up the kitchen floor but didn’t quite reach her. As the blood from her own vodka bottle trickled down her arm, she watched the blurry eyes as the daylight faded away from her.