From the Fiction department:
He couldn’t help feeling a little bit smug at his predicament. Not because it was a particularly enviable situation to be in, but because he had so accurately foretold it.
The last few weeks had been hectic, while she was packing all her possessions and making arrangements for her new flat. As they were dividing up their CDs, there had been plenty of opportunities for reminiscing, over both good times and bad. The passion involved in these final formalities had startled him, and he had found himself wondering whether this was the right thing to be doing. Was it possible that all this was a big mistake, and if he opened his mouth now and said what he was feeling, maybe they could forget all this nonsense? Well, yes, that is what would have happened, but only for a few months, before things returned to their old ways. And anyway, that’s not what happened, so let’s move swiftly on.
The final move was very sudden. It all took place on one day. It seemed that when she left, she took pretty much everything in the flat. In truth, she actually took away less than she left behind, but the mind has a tendency to wallow when so many reminders pass in front of you in such a short time. The enormous pile of boxes and bags in the living room was siphoned off into cars, and within an hour the boxes were gone, and she was gone. There was no grand teary goodbye. They would either meet again or they wouldn’t. If they were going to, then a big goodbye would clearly be unnecessary. And if they weren’t, then fate must have a good reason for her actions.
The carpet was strewn with dust and dirt and bits of cardboard, so he equipped himself with a vacuum cleaner and navigated his way around the furniture. After all, as long as you leave the furniture in one place, then the dust can’t get under it, right?
This task completed, he performed a few other necessary tasks to convert a flat for two into the world’s most awesome batchelor pad. He cleaned the bathroom, and moved his razor from inside the cupboard to the convenient surface next to the sink, where it quite patently belongs.
He dedicated the entirety of the bottom two shelves of the fridge to beer and beer alone. The one can that had been in the door was opened and poured into his favourite Guinness glass, the one that he never used to be able to use because it was always on the coffee table with the dregs of some elderflower cordial or suchlike in it. Can I use that glass? No, I’m not finished yet. We’ve got plenty of other glasses. Nag nag nag.
He removed the dinner plates from the cupboard, the ones that they had bought together. He briefly considered a ceremonial plate smashing, but then thought better of it, and returned them to the cupboard, albeit underneath the two chipped plates that he had owned since University.
He stood in the middle of the sitting room that was now his kingdom, and saw that it was good. His face bore the smug grin of which I spoke so many paragraphs ago. His mind bore the realisation that he was alone. His friends had long since been relegated to the status of acquaintances, as she had gradually drawn him away from them. He didn’t think that it had been her intention to harm him, or make him depend upon her, though that was always a possibility. It was just that she was a quiet-evening-in kind of girl. She had a tendency to read a lot of books, and before she had met him, her life existed mainly in her own mind. I guess she just wasn’t a social animal. He had always been quite content with the single life, but ever open to the concept of love. He kept a tight circle of friends, and looked to them for the support that kept things in perspective when sleep refused to come, and the mind suddenly wants to know what it all means and where it is all going.
But where were they now? The world had changed around him, and there was nowhere to go. Some of them were paired off now, enjoying their little oasis of bliss, with no real requirement for his friendship right now. Some of them were miles away, perhaps back in the town where they’d shared those riotous nights in the pub, or perhaps they’d moved to somewhere else entirely to find the action. Some of them were so long-forgotten that he wasn’t sure that he knew their addresses anymore.
And so here he was. Probably at least a hundred miles from the nearest person that he had ever considered to be a friend. Hi, do you remember me? We were friends once. Yeah, I remember you. How’s it going? Not too good, can we talk? Sorry, mate, not a good time. How about next week?
He sought a pen, turned to a blank page and wrote “List of Options” at the top.