On shaky legs, I walk into the bathroom and stare at the face that is looking back at me. Aside from the sleep in her eyes, and the messy state of her hair she looks the same, but I know different.
I can tell by the quiver of her lip, the sharp intake of breath before she turns on the facet to splash cool water on her face that something is different this morning, something has changed since yesterday.
The determination on her brow is gone, the challenge to face the day that usually lives in her eyes is but a shadow, and the smirk in the corner of her lips as she looks at herself every morning is absent.
Opening the mirror, she takes out her makeup and her brushes and lines them up surrounding the sink like she does every morning, she takes out her contact lenses and pops them in before returning the case back behind the mirror and closing it.
Looking at herself, a single tear rolls down her cheek. Wiping it away, she sighs and braces herself on the sink.
Everything is the same, she tells herself. It’s the same as it was yesterday, or the week before, or even last year. Nothing has changed.
Her mind tells her that it has as she starts to apply the makeup, painting over the girl who has changed since the night before and putting on the face of yesterday. With every soft brush of her blush on her cheeks, every stroke of the mascara she sees the her she wants to be again, and erasing the girl she just was… only moments before.
Satisfied that she has completely rid herself of the new her, she opens the mirror and puts everything back. Closing it, she looks herself over.
A stirring in the bedroom has her looking over her shoulder. She can hear him getting out of bed, pushing his feet into his boxers and then into his slippers. She can see him in her minds eye standing up, holding his hands above him as he stretches out, shakes off any sleep that is stuck to him.
Each footstep he takes towards her, towards the bathroom is perfectly synced with the beating of her heart.
Frozen, she listens and feels him come towards her.
Like every morning, he comes in the bathroom behind her, walks past her then pauses, pressing a kiss to her cheek.
“Morning,” he grumbles as he moves towards the toilet and goes to the bathroom.
She stays as she is, unmoving, unable to look at him or move away.
Finished, he walks past her again, this time there is no pause, no kiss on his way to the kitchen.
Her eyes fog over as she looks at herself again, trying to swallow the tightness in her throat.
Closing the door, she turns and sits on the edge of the bathtub and just listens to him. He moves around like he always does in the morning, making them coffee, sitting on their couch, watching their television.
Everything is theirs.
Last night everything was theirs.
This morning, there is an aching in her chest, and emptiness there where the love used to be. It was like with a few simple words, a second observing what she always saw but never took the time to see and everything she knew had come undone.
They sat in silence, the space between them filling up with everything that was unspoken. She watched him from her place on the bed as he sat on his computer, always together, yet a world apart. She watched him sitting there, watched the muscles of his back move beneath the thin cotton of their matching shirts each time he shifted and she wondered when they had changed. When had they gone from the people they were then, at the beginning when the love was fresh and new and wonderful, to the people they were now, where there was just love.
She knew she loved him, she knew there wasn’t a day that passed that she wouldn’t want him to be a part of, but she just didn’t feel the love anymore, she couldn’t see whether or not the love was there for him.
The silliness and free parts of them, the ones that would roll around on the floor and mimic each other for no reason, and laugh like they would never get the chance to laugh again were replaced with “I don’t know what you expect me to do”s and “What exactly am I supposed to do to that”s.
They had started out dancing, to the same song, at the same time. Both of them crazy and unafraid, both throwing their arms out and jumping around. Suddenly, it was like she turned around and he was gone, not dancing anymore, not there.
The time they had replaced in laughter, in moments of affection were replaced with silence and the confidence she had felt in her love had faltered.
He loves me had been changed into does he love me all in a single realization.
Sitting there on the edge of the tub, she put a hand over her mouth to stifle a sob that escaped her throat.
I love him, and there is nothing I am more sure of in this world then that. It’s everything else that has become unsure, it’s the girl in the mirror looking back at me that I am unsure of, the man who kissed me good morning, the love that has moved from the front row to sit in the back.
Standing, I wipe the tears from my cheek and look myself over in the mirror. I watch as she wipes the mascara from beneath her eyes and lifts her shoulders. The makeup is still there, but somehow more of the girl of today can be seen through it.
Opening the door, she forces a smile and puts on her shoes. Looking around an empty living room, she hears noises from the bedroom and knows where he is sitting. Pulling on a coat and grabbing her purse, she opens the door.
“Bye baby,” he calls. “I love you.”