Ryuko drags her covers tighter around herself, curling her knees closer in an effort to protect herself. Her stuffed animal is hugged impossibly close and she buries her face into the soft plush of its stomach. She can still hear the argument outside, voices raised and things breaking, and she winces and curls even more into herself.
They don’t stop. They never stop.
The argument outside her room is getting worse and the sudden sound of something breaking against her wall makes her jump and she immediately pulls her covers over her head, hoping that the darkness will swallow her. She doesn’t want to be here.
She’s scared and she doesn’t know what to do to make them stop. She wants them to stop but they won’t.
The voices rise even more until it’s just screaming. She covers her ears and squeezes her eyes shut and hopes that it’ll make everything disappear, but it doesn’t and she can still hear the shrill sounds of her parents fighting.
There’s stomping and a door slams, but the arguing doesn’t stop.
She just curls up even more and tries not to cry.
I am feeling so small.
She slips into bed, her back facing his and there’s a cold silence between them. He doesn’t say a word, only shifting so that he’s closer to the edge. She expects this. It’s been this way for a month.
She wonders where their love went, because they used to be so in love, despite how they treated each other. But feelings fade and theirs faded so quickly that she’s not ready for it. Except she is, because she’s noticed the signs and warnings and it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when the attraction stops.
The silence ticks by slowly and she’s aware of each breath he draws and she sure he’s aware of every breath she draws, but there’s nothing else to focus on. Things are awkward between them, painfully so, and she debates leaving the room.
The bed creaks and she feels the bed dip and rise as he gets up. She doesn’t move, instead watching his dark silhouette move around to room to collect a spare blanket. He says nothing to her and his figure disappears behind the door with a soft click.
It helps her make up her mind.
She’s standing in the doorway, the bags by her feet being carted off to the taxi waiting by the curb, and holds out her hand. Despite everything, there’s a small part of her that still cherishes him and she doesn’t want to part on bad terms, even if what they have is finished.
He takes it and they shake and then she leaves.
I’m giving up on you.
The room is dark, with the only light coming from the machine she’s hooked into and its monotonous beeping the only sound breaking the silence. He moves slowly, bones old and tired and ready to collapse under everything, and reaches the edge of her bed where there’s a chair waiting for him, the same chair he’s sat in for the past two years.
She doesn’t move. She doesn’t speak. She doesn’t acknowledge him at all and it breaks his heart because he always knew this day was coming but he never expected it to be so soon. His throat dries and he wills himself not to break down and cry.
He takes one of her frail hand in his equally frail one and rubs a thumb over her wrist and even though there’s a faint pulse that’s slow, oh so slow, it does nothing to ease his heart.
“How are you?”
She doesn’t answer.
He keeps talking because he can’t stand the silence and it’s more for his benefit than hers. He keeps talking because he’s trying to ignore what he already knows and isn’t willing to face quite yet.
He talks about their kids, their grandchildren, their friends. He talks about their past, about all the fun they had, and about all the silly arguments they got into. He talks about all the times he fell in love with her all over again.
He talks about anything and everything, all the while gripping her hand like a lifeline. He’s afraid that if he lets go, everything will disappear and it’d make everything all the more real.
“I love you,” he tells her and for a moment, he thinks she might have squeezed his hand as her way of replying. He gently strokes a hand over her hair and leans over to kiss her cheeks one last time before doing the same to the back of her hand.
The monitor slows and then stops beeping. Her hand slackens while his tighten. He still doesn’t let go. He repeats his words, again and again and again, until he gives up and allows the fact that she’s gone to wash over him.
Uzu cries for the first time in a long time. He cries and doesn’t stop crying.
I’m saying goodbye.