I walked at a slow and steady pace towards her table. All of them were there with my wife. Her small sister, the maid, both the damn doctors. All smiling and laughing and looking every bit the happy little family. There wasn't a chair for me, but I hadn't expected there to be, dear Christopher had known I wouldn't come see him accept that damned diploma.
The noise of the other graduates threatened to split my pounding head in two, tempting me to turn away before anyone saw me. Turn around and do this another day, at another time when it would just be me and my wife with no prying eyes. But that would let Dr. Chris win, going away quietly, not making any waves, not rocking the boat. Submitting to his wishes and meekly stepping aside so he could hold my wife close…
Cathy looked up and caught sight of me. A look of disbelief crossed her face before her eyes brightened and she smiled so big and wonderfully… at me. I choked on the air in my lungs, my chest constricting painfully. Eight years I had waited for her to smile at me like that. Eight long years.
I tried to return her smile. I tried so very hard to smile a little for her but it was too late.
I heard the excitement in her near shout of my name as she trotted towards me. I saw other graduate families turning to look our way, effectively putting us on center stage, the only place where we were always truly happy together. But today we were dancing a tragedy where no joy could thrive.
She seemed to know something was wrong because she stopped a step away from me. She searched my eyes with a touch of puzzlement and whispered my name again. I finally managed to give her the tiniest of smiles as I shook my head and handed her the package I came to deliver. Her fingers sought mine as she took the papers, the touch of her tearing my heart in two forcing me to pull away abruptly and spin on my heel so she wouldn't see my tears.
I stepped away quickly fervently hoping I would be fast enough to escape what I feared would come, knowing all the while that the wish was in vain. I heard the question of my name, heard her voice rise to a panicked shout, heard it crumble into a heart wrenching wail. I heard her family's frantic calling to her, their demands of what was going on, and I heard one last shout of her begging for me before I broke and got the hell out of there.
I left her behind. The woman I had loved for so long, so thoroughly. I left my wife on her knees begging me to come back. At a dead run with tears pouring down my face and whimpers clawing their way past clenched teeth I left her.
I left her.