By 8.45 I was long gone. The taxi had come at 6am, well before I knew she would stir. She'd always been a heavy sleeper, ever since I knew her - always tardy in the mornings due to sleeping through her alarm. It never bothered me. In my profession you can pretty much get up whatever time suits you. No alarms, no clients, no deadlines. Just technology. And art . . . always art.
She didn't know how long she'd slept this time. The washing machine still emitted its low humming, so she knew it couldn' have been too long. Deciding it was time to get up, she opened her eyes and looked at the clock without moving. Just before 10. A much more respectable time to rise, in her opinion. Looking ahead of her, she saw her motorcycle jacket slung over a chair, where she'd carelessly tossed it the night before. They'd argued about the bike. Again. She sighed quietly, thinking about how he didn't understand her need for that little bit of freedom. It was inexplicably exhilirating, to be able to sit on her bike and go wherever she pleased. Dangerous, yes . . . but she was willing to take the risk. She'd had that bike since she was old enough to get a licence for it, and had lovingly got it fixed each time it needed doing. Recently she'd learnt how to fix it herself, wanting to take on the responsibility of management for it herself. Yesterday morning, she'd crashed it. Not seriously, but enough for it to need a little straightening out. I was away for the whole morning doing some work at a park down the road - it's late summer, perfect for those hazy landscape shots. By the time I came home, it was already fixed. I never would have known she'd crashed it, if I hadn't spotted the smudge of oil on the side of her sleeve.
Naturally, I was pissed off. Or maybe not naturally, I'm not so sure anymore. I didn't like that she hadn't been careful, and I certainly didn't like the fact that she'd kept it from me to keep me sweet. Somehow that made it so much worse, that I would never have known. How many other times had she crashed that I had no knowledge of? I'm not certain I want to know - that I'll ever want to know.
So we'd argued. Then we'd gone out to see some friends. Awkward, but reasonably fun. A normal conversation in the evening, then bed. I'm not sure when I made my decision to leave.
When she felt she'd looked at the room enough, she stretched an arm out to meet my warm body in a friendly morning greeting. Don't ask me how I know this. I just do. I know her so well, I know this is what she would do. What I would do.
The sheets were there, smooth and flat. But cold. No-one's lain in them for a good few hours. Turning to look, she saw the empty other half of the bed. She remembered last night, the words, the look in my eyes. And she knows.
I am gone. And there's nothing she can do about it.