The curtains were glowing in the afternoon light and they fluttered around the old bay windows where Stephen sat. He looked around the room, taking in the memories, and felt a warm numbness to the seven years they made this apartment their home. The books, the framed photos from their trips to Europe, the painting Jen’s mother had done of her family and the flea-market furniture. It’d been two months and he was finally ready to have this conversation.
    Stephen spoke quietly, “I can’t keep thinking about you, about what happened here, and expect things to be normal. We had a wonderful time together and I loved every minute with you but I realize now that it’s over. For both of us.” He paused, as if he expected a response, and coughed into the silence.
    Jen nodded. She knew this was inevitable but was surprised when she had heard Stephen’s keys rattling in the front door. She had followed him into the living room and quietly watched as he settled into his old position in the windows. He spent a few moments staring at the neighbors and when he turned to her his eyes were wet and shining. She wanted to tell him about the love and frustration boiling in her chest but when she tried to speak her words came out as a sigh. The curtains stirred and down below the house the furnace groaned. Stephen looked up at the sound and stared at the door in the hallway, the one leading into the basement, and he felt a momentary tension in the air.
    “I hired Matt to pick up the stuff, I hope you don’t mind, and I guess I’ll put it all in storage until I figure out what to do with everything.” Suddenly he felt embarrassed and acutely alone.    
    “Listen Jen, I don’t expect you to hear any of this but I just, I just really needed to say good-bye.” He stood slowly, like a man twice his age, and Jen watched him sort the pillows back into their display positions. He walked past her to front door and paused. She saw his shoulders were gently shaking as he whispered over his shoulder “I hope you’re well, sweetie.” He paused and took a deep breath to regain his composure, “I’m going to miss you.”
    Jen felt something tear deep inside of her, a wave of grief and guilt that had been building for weeks. She hugged her chest and began to cry, a keening, tortured sob that wracked her body and brought her to her knees. Deep in the house, the pipes moaned and the walls creaked as they settled heavily into the foundations. A cold wind whispered down the hall and tugged at Stephen’s jacket. He tensed and looked back, staring through her and down the hall, then he walked out the door to start a new life.