She smoothes her fingers under her eyes, over her lips, through her hair. It doesn't help the reflection before her look any more human though. She contemplates more rouge, maybe more mascara? She needs something, something to stop Lightman giving her that sideways glance whenever they worked, or passed, or just generally stood in the same building. Anything to stop everyone worrying.
Because she was fine. She is fine. She is. She just wants to be left alone to grieve.
She had decided on the night that Dave left – snuggled under the blanket with the wine and the ice cream – that he had died. She had to believe that. It was certainly easier to think that than what had actually happened: that he'd just left her. Chosen his career over her. Just walked away without a proper goodbye or explanation.
No, grief is easier than heartbreak.
Grief has a process, a timescale: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
There is no wondering where he is, who he is, who he'd replaced her with.
Grief was better.
She smiles. Not that he's left her, or that he's died, just smiles to herself. At her reflection. At how much Cal would laugh at her if he could see her now – self-affirmation was her thing after all.
It doesn't quite reach her eyes yet but it is getting there, it's getting better. It's definitely passable for now.
With a deep breath, she straightens her back and swoops out of the bathroom, gathering her jacket and purse from the couch and her keys from the counter. She takes a misguided gulp of long-cold tea and pours it down the drain, leaving the cup in the sink as she fights the grimace from her lips.
Her eyes are focussed on the three texts and missed calls Cal has already left for her when she swings open the door and barrels straight into the postman.
"Oh G-I'm sorry! Are you alright?"
"No harm no foul, Miss..." he smiled, looking at the package in his hand. "...Monroe. You have a nice day."
"Monroe?" She takes the box as he moves next door. "No there must be-"
It feels like her heart stops. Like the entire universe stops spinning and melts away as her gaze lands on the return address of the package.
The address on the front was for somewhere in Washington State. Well, no, the excessive red stamps across the chicken-scrawl stated quite clearly that there was no such address, but it was the writing on the underside that made her breath hitch in her throat.
Her fingers traced over the name 'Jasmine Monroe' before letting her bag drop to the floor as she attacked the taped sides of the package.
Dave, it had to be from Dave. Only he knew her first childhood pet was called Jasmine, her Mom's maiden name Monroe. Only he knew that together they produced her 'undercover' name, as decided by a late night by the fire with a bottle of Rioja and a Bailey's cheesecake.
Dave, it had to be Dave.
She ripped the brown paper away and revealed the generic white box beneath, a single piece of folded paper encased within.
'I miss you, D x'
A tear trips off her chin she hadn't realised she'd shed.
That was it. Nothing else in the box. She scrambles for the wrapping, for the post mark that would at least tell her where he is.
She doesn't know whether to smile or cry (more). The fold of the brown paper was waxy to the touch, meaning the stamp hadn't set over that section, ultimately meaning no location. No state.
"Sneaky bastard," she laughs, tears flowing as she reads the note again and again. "I miss you too."