Quietly Clicked Shut – short story

I stood in front of him, every fibre of my being aching to reach out and touch him. He looked up at me from where he sat, hurt and pain welling in his eyes before he cast them down to the floor, no longer able to hold my steady gaze. I didn’t know how else to say it. “I’m sorry.” The words were barely more than a whisper and I still choked on them. He didn’t move. He just kept his eyes on the floor, staring intently, like the floorboards might give him the answers he needed if he stared hard enough. I stood there, looking at the large man whose heart had been broken too many times. He seemed so small, so fragile. I stepped towards him with my arm outstretched, about to touch him as I so desperately ached to do when he stood up without warning. I snapped my arm back to myself and folded them in front of me. My heart raced from the fright. His eyes slowly raised to mine, not seeing anything until they locked on to my face. He set his jaw. Nodded slowly, and said “I understand.” Without another word he turned away and picked up his bag and put his hat on, slinging the bag over one shoulder. He stopped by the door. The tension was palpable, the air thick with words clawing to be released, but finding no entry to break the silence. His head dropped slightly to the left as if he were about to speak again. I wanted him to say something more. To say he was mad, or angry. Anything. He exhaled with what seemed like resignation, shaking his head as he opened the door and left. I stood there, listening to his heavy foot steps on the polished boards. I waited for the front door to slam, but it just quietly clicked shut. I sat down on the floor and let the sobs wrack my entire body.

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