Lenton leant on the doorframe, not in, not out. He looked at Julia’s suitcases in the middle of the living room, one large, one small, and thought of the times they had taken them away, together. He took the small, and she took the large in terms of packing, but when it came to carrying things were reversed. Many things got reversed, he thought. He’d pulled both of them off the carousel after long flights and short flights, but he couldn’t even name any of the places they’d been, except for New York. It was always her idea to go.
As it was again.
The plumbing set up its usual hum when the toilet was flushed. Lenton looked over his shoulder as Julia came down the stairs. She looked like she was off on a business trip, with her neat jacket and tasteful but bold necklace. He looked at her shoes. Weekend shoes for Julia were always converse. She was wearing heels.
“I didn’t know you had to dress up to leave a marriage,” he said.
She stopped on the bottom step, perhaps consciously, since it brought her somewhere close to his height. “Lenton.”
“No, I know. No tasteless remarks. We’re having an amicable split. Yes?” He kept turning those words over in his mind, and sometimes spitting them back at her.
She said his name again, and he suddenly thought it was the rudest thing in the world, to keep on using a person’s name when you’d decided to leave them. A name is personal, and if you withdraw from someone’s life you surely lose your rights to use their name. But he couldn’t say that. He couldn’t say anything because what he wanted was for her to say his name and take his face in her hands, the way she used to, and if he told her not to say his name then she could never do that. Even if he had been so blind as to not see this coming, he wasn’t so stupid as to extinguish the only hope he had.