She didn't want to open
her eyes, but she had no choice as the rays spilled through the
shutters, Payton slowly and grudgingly awoke from a tormented sleep
on what felt the last day of her life, and who could blame
her? Never would she feel his touch again, never would she
feel his breath ripple across her bare skin. The thought of this
soaked her pillow as she began to weep. He was everything. Everything
that shouldn't be but everything she longed for.
"Let me go" Payton looked to the ceiling pleading. It was no use, this wasn't His will.
She became enveloped in an oh so sickening desperation. Each and every entity in its entirety faded to black. Any rational thought was replaced by loathsome vacancy, abandoning her with vicious realisation of what lay before her.
Love. An all consuming love that had devoured her from the moment she had set eyes upon him but she was able to feel something so contradictory, so far from her awe...hatred. Payton was plagued and pounded by anger so fierce it wrapped itself like a coiled snake around her throat suffocating her in the darkness of the night. She became so overwhelmed to eradicate the vile images burning in her mind. she could still hear Isa's screams for help rattling. It haunted Payton always, even in her dreams she would see her in a bloody mess breathing her last words "Do not be afraid, father is here." and die in front of her. No one should watch their best friend die. No one. And killed so mercilessly by the man she loved whole heartedly.
In the depths of her oblivion she slumped to her knees and sighed with heavy breath. "I have to do this, I can do this" she promised herself. This wasn't strictly true of course. The separation hadn't been her choice and still she had the uneasy feeling of not holding the control.
Slamming the door closed she drew frosty breath in the morning dew. Inhaling the first cigarette of the day she began to argue with herself intrusively. Reuben had called out of the blue to ask to meet, Payton felt rage and disgust but more alarmingly trying to contain these butterflies or the fragile distance between thought and action was impossibility.
Better to be safe than sorry, she told herself feeling in her coat pocket for the third time. Sitting on the downtown bus she became lost in her thoughts. Stepping off at 34th street she felt flushed. A nervous sweat. Admiring the restaurant he had invited her to she pulled for once last cigarette. Clearly trying to make a point, she thought. Laughter and music came from inside and for a moment she paused. Briefly checked herself over once more before entering.
The desolate quite of the hotel room made reality deathly stark. As Reuben clicked down the phone he realised what a loaded gun he held. "Here's an original idea" he thought, "don't fuck it up."
His chest felt heavy with hearing her voice and pacing the floor he wondered if he was doing the right thing. Feeling in his pocket for the heart pendant he once gave her Reuben sunk into his chair. He only had to close his eyes and picture Payton and the world would melt away. It shouldn't still hurt this much. Her love was the only thing that kept him hanging on. Still the only thing keeping him from complete madness. Sunlight beamed through the window as he ran his finger across the reflection, tracing her name over and over. In his heart he knew she still thought of him. Leaving the apartment it dawned on Reuben just how disillusioned he had become. Sometimes it was so hard to break through and reach out to people- particularly Payton. The streets he walked were commonplace for many years but just like his heart and mind things seemed unfamiliar now. Life had become an uncontrollable mess, and he yearned to curl up in the foetal position and sleep. Overall Reuben had been a decent human being. Not perfect but trying. He sometimes got down on himself but who didn't? But Angel? He fell short. It was a constant stretch to reach expectations, and the day he was banished from heaven was the day everything would change. Sent to earth to do good, now Ruben lay in the shadows, no longer living a "human life" with his beloved. One mistake changed everything. One split second in time and his life was gone. There was a massive gap between how things were and how they should be and he had no idea how to fill it. He didn't get other people, but he got her. She got him. And that was love. An uncomplicated understanding between two people. Maybe not romantic or thrilling but... real. He stopped before the door of the restaurant and lit a cigar. The thought of her was all he had these days, and with each moment that passed the memories became more diluted.
"How have been?"
"Oh you know,"
Reuben shrugged casually motioning for the waiter to bring another coffee. But there was nothing matter of fact about this. The tension was unbearable. The stark lights illuminated every crevice in his face, creating secret caves that Payton could only wish to run to and hide from the conversation. Those dark pools she once lost herself within just seemed desiccated...dead. Acid breath stung Payton's face. Yeah, he was wired all right.
"I...you don't know how sorry I am Payton?"
"So that makes it ok does it?" She needed closure.
"Did I fucking say that? His fingers hooked her hand like knives, forcing them closer. Payton wrenched back in her chair, gaze fixed to the ceiling.
"I always loved you Ru" his expression softened.
"Yeah until you put my feelings through a fucking blender." She hissed.
Choking back the pricking tears not wanting to give him the satisfaction. Hell would have to...
"What happened to you Ruben?"
"For fuck sake, you stupid woman." He stabbed the blunt cutlery knife into his hand.
"We could be good again Payton, I've said I'm sorry a million times. You want to piss it all away because of a mistake?"
"She was my best friend and you took her from me"
"Do you love me?
"It's just not that simple Reuben. They will come for us and you know it"
"Do you love me" Reuben's tone was short and Payton noticed an obvious desperation in his voice.
"I...I don't know"
He disappeared into a crowd that entered the cafe and onto street before she could shout after him. The meeting had been so very brief and bittersweet, it might have been the last time she would see him and that was how it would end? Conversations hushed and every eye was on Payton. Her face burned with anger but still after all this time she wanted to chase after him and hold him in her arms. But what was the use? It wouldn't change a single thing. Quietly she sipped the last of her coffee and became lost in his lingering aftershave. What was really left now? After all the heartache, the tears, even the good times? A napkin with a scribbled hotel number and a stinging taste in her mouth.
Figures. Payton thought hurrying into the bustling street. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. He lied over and over. Tarnishing anything they ever had.
"That's enough now" she thought as she zipped up her long duffle. Keeping her eyes fixed to the concrete she decided to walk the ten blocks home.