Ghosts

I crept down the staircase as the voices faded into the kitchen. A deep unfamiliar voice mingled with hers. She’d brought another man over. I listened hard, trying to determine if it was the same one from a few nights ago. Probably not. I knew well enough that she wanted the company, not the commitment. The voices stopped and I leaned around the wall to see what was going on.

They were kissing. They’d be moving this way soon.

I took a step back into the shadows as they began to grope their way up the stairs. I heard the bedroom door creak closed, but it hadn’t latched. I wandered up the stairs and lingered by the door. A sliver of light shone out into the hall. I listened to the muffled noises they made as their clothing fell away.

He pushed her back onto the bed and she started moaning as he kissed parts of her body I couldn’t see. My gaze shifted down the hall and I drifted to the other room where it was nearly out of earshot. I no longer cared to watch like I had before, but I wanted to know when he’d gone so I could return to the room. The men never slept here.

The nights were all so similar it was almost funny. They all went through almost the same motions. The only difference being in how their hands treated her. Some of them were gentle and would follow her curves with a gentle caress. Others were rough and shoved her face into the pillow as they pushed inside of her. I wasn’t sure which one she liked more.

It ended the same way too; with the men gone and her laying on top of the blanket staring at the ceiling. The rough men would give her ass one last smack on the way out while the others gave a sweet kiss on her cheek before they closed the door behind them. I would return to the room when I was sure they had gone. I’d look down at her, no longer feeling the way I had before. There was no more anger or hatred. No more jealousy or sadness. I was not feeling anything anymore.

I could appreciate what she was doing. I was gone, after all. Would I have done anything differently if the roles had been reversed? I doubted it.

I’d trace over her with my eyes until she finally moved away from the bed and disappeared into the bathroom for a few hours. I never followed her there but I knew she would run the water in the tub until all the mirrors fogged up and she’d soak in the water until it went cold. She’d pull on her large t-shirt and crawl back into the bed. Her eyes remained open for at least an hour afterwards. I used to slide into the bed next to her until she was asleep.

Not anymore. I waited in the doorway until her breathing evened out, wondering if she knew I was there.

“Allie…” only I could hear my voice, I knew that. I’d wasted time yelling at her before and her eyes never even moved from the television. But I whispered to her anyway. “Allie…it’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.” I hope. Even though I knew she couldn’t hear me, I didn’t say that part out loud. “I think I should leave now. I don’t think I’m helping. I need to go.”

Her arm moved and I paused.

She couldn’t hear me.

“I didn’t want to leave you. But you need to let me go now. I’m leaving.”

I waited, and just like every other night for the last six months, she rolled over to face me. Her eyes were still closed, but she was frowning.

And just like every other night, she shook her head and whispered, “no.”

And just like every other night, I nodded as I went back to the other room.

I had become so tired of this routine, but I couldn’t leave her until I knew she would be okay. I sat on the bed in the other room and waited for the next night to come.

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