'Homes Not Hers'

Featuring Amy and Rory

In the days and weeks after she left him, he became more and more inclined to walk the streets. They lived in an old part of town, in the house that he'd given them, ramshackle and crumbling in places; overgrown gardens and rusting fences. Chipped paint and stained concrete.

He spent days exploring the streets, seeing the severe terraces, some gentrified and made glorious again, some cracked upon with their guts showing to the permanently grey skies, some closed and boarded up. He'd get up in the morning, alone again in a cold bed, just himself and crisp white sheets, and he'd lean against the frosted window and watch the street outside the little house a mad man had built, as the kettle hissed and the bacon spat and fizzed on the stove.

And then he'd pull on a jacket and a coat, look in the mirror as he went down the hall towards his front door, think to himself that he'd better shave soon, and then he was on the streets again, walking.

Always walking.

They'd walked together, through the streets, past the terrace houses and the mansions on the other side of the park, when it was all green and glorious; in the warmth of spring, and then in heat of summer. She with her eyes full of stars and secrets, and he with his obedient love.

He left those memories behind, now, on top of the art she'd loved to make, just collecting dust in the back room he never entered. Left them with her books and issues of National Geographic and Vanity Fair, that prized issue where she'd graced the cover with pride of place amongst the clutter. She'd never come by to pick them up; maybe she thought they weren't worth it. He was inclined to agree.

Maybe she was off with him again. Maybe that's why she never came back. Maybe she was dead.

They'd stuck by each other through nightmares both mundane and unimaginable. In the heat of high summer, they'd had sex with the windows open and Bob Marley playing on his father's old record player, the warm sounds crackling into the hot, still air. The longest day of the year had been spent drinking in the back room, her on the piano and he writing. And then the days grew shorter, and so did their time together.

She'd spend less nights lying beside him, their wedding became plans over the phone as she shuttled from one shoot to another, and a few words flew this way and that. Finally, they'd been in the park across the road from their house, where he'd bid them farewell, the leaves brown and red and yellow, and she'd said "I'm going home."

He was taken completely by surprise.

"You're going home?"

He'd thought his house was her home; it was her art, her magazines, her books. He'd thought she was happy.

"I can't stay here, Rory," she said, and she looked away.

He swallowed. "I…"

"You," she said, with a sigh. "It's not you, Rory, it's home. It's the idea of home."

He frowned, unable to understand. "But I thought…"

She looked at him, a regretful smile turning up the corners of her lips, where the secrets should have been; tears dancing in her eyes, where the stars should have been. "I never came to accept it, Rory. All these years, since he left, and I've never sat down and thought about how much I lost. There's no home for me here. No matter how hard I try, no matter how hard you try, there's no home for me here."

She kissed him, one more time, and then she was gone.

He sat amidst the autumn leaves for a few hours, and then he went home.

It was winter, as he shut the door behind him in, in coat and scarves and gloves, his breath misting. He'd walk the streets, and retrace the footsteps they'd made together, look at the chipped paint and stained concrete; the whitewashed doors and windowsills of homes not his, homes not hers.

And then he'd complete his rounds of the neighbourhood and come back to a cold house, colours washed out and empty, and he'd be alone all over again.