It took Lydia five minutes to pry Pointer away from the door, where he growled and barked incessantly. With one hand buried in his silken gold coat she cracked the door with the other, the dog howling in distress.
“Can’t you read?” Lydia yelled over the wails from Pointer, and then flung the door open.
On the porch stood Mark, arms full of empty boxes, looking determined, albeit a little sheepish. Pointer, realizing who the intruder was, instantly changed his guarded growls to joyful yips as he bounced into Mark, pink tongue lolling out of his mouth. Mark put his boxes down and drew Pointer into his arms.
“Hi boy,” Mark cooed. “I’ve missed you.”
“Evidentially enough to forget he’s still terrified of doorbells,” Lydia muttered, bending down to pick up the boxes.
“I thought you were getting that fixed?” Mark said, crouching to help. They reached for a box at the same time and their hands brushed. Lydia pulled away quickly.
“I’ve been a little busy,” she said.
“Well, hopefully today will make things better.” Mark replied, and smiled.
Lydia scowled, and stood, walking back up the stairs. “Shut the door,” she called over her shoulder.
Two hours later, Mark and Lydia sat in the cluttered mess that had become Lydia’s living room, methodically sorting through items in silence. Mark blew dust off an old book, and let out a quiet chuckle. Lydia looked up from the clothes she was folding, a frown etched on her forehead.
“Oh, it’s nothing, I just can’t believe you still have this.” Mark said, and tossed the book at Lydia. She opened it, and a small smile cracked across her face.
“Awe our old yearbook from high school. Honestly I thought I left this back at my parents’ when I moved.” She flipped through a few pages, then tossed it in a box.
“You’re not keeping that?” Mark asked, retrieving the book. Lydia raised an eyebrow and scoffed.
“Why would I?”
“Dunno, maybe because they always said high school was the best years of our lives?”
“Right, the very best years ever.” Lydia rolled her eyes. “I think I spent more time skipping classes.”
“Yes, you were always such a badass,” Mark mused.
“Shut up, Mark.” Lydia threw a plastic blue water bottle at him, it hit Mark squarely in the head and then rolled under the couch. Pointer, who had been sleeping peacefully in the corner, leapt up in hot pursuit.
“You know what I remember?” Mark said, grinning.
“What are you talking about?” Lydia said, pausing her organizing and meeting Mark’s eyes.
“That first school dance, when you and I met,” Mark began.
“Oh yes, how could I forget,” Lydia murmured, rubbing her face.
“You were so drunk.”
“Wasted, actually,” Lydia corrected. “And my friends glitter bombed me before we walked in.”
“And then you laid eyes on me, the most handsome man—”
“Boy,” Lydia interrupted. “Remember, you couldn’t even grow a beard.”
“You held on to me the whole night,” Mark continued.
“To keep from falling over.”
“And we kissed.”
“And you still had braces,” Lydia said.
“I woke up the next morning, in love, covered in glitter.”
“And then you were grounded by your mom,” Lydia finished, and rose to her feet.
“Where are you going?” Mark called as Lydia
disappeared into the kitchen, Pointer trailing at her heels.
“Wine,” Lydia said, returning with a bottle and two glasses. “If we’re going to be talking about this, we might as well drink.” She poured a glass and handed one to Mark. Her wrist trembled a little as she passed it over to him. When he took it, their fingers brushed again.
“Cheers,” Lydia said, and they clinked their cups.
“Cheers,” Mark replied, and took a slow sip.
“Can hardly believe that was fifteen years ago,” Lydia said softly. “We were so young.”
“We still are,” Mark said, passing the book back to her. Lydia tossed it in the box again.
“What are you doing?”
“What?” Lydia said, shaking her head. “I have no reason to keep that. You want it? You want to flip through it on nights when she can’t get you off, and think about a teenage girl covered in glitter?”
“Hey,” Mark said.
“I’m sorry,” Lydia sighed, and went back to her sorting. “It’s fine, really, it’s all good.”
“I know it’s not.” Mark said, but Lydia waved her hand at him.
“Let’s not talk about it,” she said, taking a swig of her wine.
“If we don’t talk about it now, then when will we ever?” Mark touched her arm.
“Ideally, never,” Lydia replied, and put a red baseball cap into the box.
“Hey, what’s that?”
“Look, if you’re going to do this with everything I’m throwing away, it will be a very long day.”
“But that hat was from our first ball game,” Mark said, reaching for the box.
“So? You keep it then.”
“Well, fine, I will.” Mark took the hat and placed it next to him. They continued organizing in silence. After a few minutes, Mark coughed, then cleared his throat.
“Look, I know it’s too late now to say anything,”
“Then why are you talking,” Lydia replied without looking up.
“I swear to God, Mark, if you say you are fucking sorry one more time, I will kick you out.”
“But I am sorry!”
“Then why aren’t you still here? Why did you go? I was willing to work on things. I wanted to work on things.”
“I know,” Mark said quietly.
“But you had found someone else,” Lydia sniffed loudly.
“It’s not that simple.”
“That’s what you keep saying,” Lydia said, and refilled her glass. She looked around at the mess of possessions strewn around them, and let out a hollow laugh.
“It’s okay, really,” she said. “I know why. I mean, Christ, fifteen years and we can fit it all right here. You must have been so bored.”
Mark didn’t reply, and swirled his almost untouched drink.
“You know what,” Lydia said, rising to her feet. “I don’t want any of it. So, you can take what you want and just go.”
“Hey, are you sure?” Mark said, rising to his feet as well.
“Yeah, I’m fucking sure. Why would I need these things, Mark? You don’t!”
“But it’s different, I have—”
“You have a family, and I have a broken ass dog. But that’s fine. I like it like this. I’m better like this.”
“Really?” Mark said, taking a step towards her.
“Yeah, never been more convinced. It’ll be good for me.” Lydia smiled widely. her eyes were damp.
“Okay,” Mark said, picking up the ball cap. “I guess I’ll go, then.”
“Sorry for wasting your time.”
Mark walked over to her and placed his hand on her cheek, and Lydia leaned her face against his palm. Her tears fell against his thumb and he wiped them away.
“Hey, we had a good run.” Mark murmured, resting his chin on the top of Lydia’s head, encircling her in his arms. Lydia buried her face against his chest, breathed in his familiar scent, and then pushed him away.
“Have a good life,” she said.
“You too,” Mark replied and headed for the door. Pointer let out a small whimper.
“Stay,” Lydia said, and Mark shut the door behind him.
Lydia pushed everything together into a giant pile in her living room. She picked up her phone, the line rang twice before an answer.
“Hi, yes, I have some memories I need destroyed? As soon as possible? Yes, tomorrow morning works great. By the way, can you send a tech to do some reprogramming on my dog? Yeah, the doorbell thing. Thanks.”
Lydia hung up the phone and stared at the naked walls of her apartment, what was once their apartment, where they hung photographs and art, now just parts of the heap of mess on her floor.
“I can’t wait to forget you,” she whispered. Pointer rubbed against her leg, whining.
“Sorry boy, you probably need a walk.” Lydia said, stroking his ears. She slipped on her sneakers and grabbed his leash. Outside the light of the day was fading into a grey dusk. She locked the door, then pulled on the leash, Pointer was firmly routed to the front porch. He was sniffing the red ball cap. Lydia picked it up. She touched the new stiff fabric, only worn once. When she turned it in her palms, she noticed it sparkled a little. It was covered in a fine dust of glitter.