December 1, 2014: How It Begins
"You have to shower." Her tone is gentle, as if she is addressing a small child, and the touch that she extends to him is cautious. Her fingertips are delicate, featherlight, a barely there brush across his cheek. "Please? I'll make you something to eat while you're in there."
"Leave me alone."
The trio of words strike her more than Alex allows her expression to reveal. Swallowing twice in an effort to choke down the lump that has lodged itself in her throat, she forces herself to breathe and remember that it isn't Morde that she hears. He is just a mouthpiece for an illness that he can't control. When she speaks, Alex knows that there has not been enough of an attempt made to conceal the choke of her voice through vocal cords constricted by emotion. "I can't do that, Morde."
"Because I love you." She says it without ulterior motive, knowing that it won't register in his brain the way that it should, knowing that it will change nothing about their current situation.
Her eyes close. For a second, the only thing that Alex does is count the number of breaths that it takes for the ache in the center of her chest to subside. Twenty nine. "Because you are my soulmate, and I don't know how I could even begin to live without you." She knows that, regardless of what she says, it won't be enough to bring him back to her. She knows it, but she doesn't stop there. "You make me laugh harder than anyone else I've ever met. You're so fucking .. giving and kind. You're handsome. I will always love you."
He falls silent. Alex begins to think that he might have fallen asleep, and then: "You deserve better."
She has no response to that. No matter how many times that she hears it, it strikes Alex exactly the same way every time. Dumbfounded and in awe of the idea that anyone could see her that way, she runs the palms of her hands over her face until she can hear his breathing slow. "If you don't shower," she begins to say, her tone of voice as matter of fact and composed as she can manage, "I'm going to call your Dad."
She doesn't regret that she made him do it until she realizes that she can't distinguish between the tears that he's crying and the water from the showerhead.
December 25, 2014: How It Turns
"Are you bringing Morde to dinner? I know holidays aren't usually your thing, but it would be nice to see the both of you."
Her gaze flicks to the hill of sheets on the bed that they share together. Alex presses her lips together until the flesh of them goes white, forcing her voice to sound steady. "No," she replies, struggling to keep her tone light. "Morde isn't feeling well. Besides, Ma, he's Jewish. Christmas isn't his thing."
"But it's yours." Her mother is chiding her. Alex can hear the familiar shift in tone. She can almost see the expression on her mother's face. "He needs rest if he's ill, anyway, Alex."
She wants to tell her mother that all he has been doing lately is sleeping, that there is no possible way that rest could be what he needs, but Alex says nothing.
The silence is enough to goad her mother into continuing, "We have presents for you. I'd like it if I could see your face when you open them." The volume of her voice dips conspiratorially. "I promise your father will play nice."
For a moment, Alex considers it. The idea of leaving Morde to his own devices, however, quickly becomes too terrifying. The 'what if' and the possibilities of what he could do are enough to coerce her into replying, "I'm sorry, Ma. I'll catch lunch with you later this week, yeah?"
Hours later, for the first time in her life, the sound of Christmas carols streaming from the television is enough to make Alex burst into tears.
January 9, 2015: How It Ends
He shifts underneath the covers, but he makes no motion to turn to face her.
"I can't --" Her voice cracks on that word, a word she never thought would come out of her mouth in reference to her husband. Alex rakes her fingernails up her forearm. Her gaze levels on that nervous fidget, follows the trail of rose-colored lines that appear on pale skin, avoids looking at the lump of bedclothes lying next to her. "I can't do this anymore."
Her words are met with silence. It comes as no surprise. Palms flat on the mattress, Alex shoves the full brunt of her weight off of it, forcing steps in the direction of their bedroom door. Her temple connects with its frame, and she turns to face him, knowing that he won't extend the effort to watch her leave. "I'm sorry," is a whisper out of her mouth. The heaviness of her voice sounds foreign even to herself, and she recognizes the sear of heat over her eyes as an onslaught of uncried tears.
She wants to explain further. She wants, desperately, to make him understand how difficult it is to miss someone that is always lying right beside her. She knows, though, that he won't hear a word of it. The only thing that he will grasp is that Alex has surrendered. A figurative white flag has been waved, and the one person that promised never to give up on him has done exactly that.
So she says nothing. She crosses to the bed, leans to brush her lips over his temple, and breathes in the familiarity of the way that he smells for what she knows will be the last time. "I love you, Abel Wolff."
She waits until the front door closes behind her before she falls apart.