The Work

His voice had never sounded so cold. I suddenly miss the way he would smile warmly at me, like I was the best thing that had ever happened to him. I want to feel that way again, but I know there is no chance of going back now. He would never forgive me after what I had just done, not ever. It was over now. There was nothing I could ever do that would make up for my mistake.

We both watch the papers, drifting across the soft waves of the Potomac. They separate, some sinking down, others getting caught on driftwood, some being badgered by fish. I feel a heat emanating from Liam; he is probably fighting the urge to hit me, as the foggy winds beat through our hair and make me want to squint. He doesn’t say another word, he just walks away, into the muggy drizzle of hot rain that encases us.

I can only stare after him. I don’t want to follow him— I know that he is more angry than I’ve ever seen him. I don’t know why I did it. It is his entire life’s work, in that pile of papers. He will never be able to replace it. I can never get it back for him. The pages belong to the wind and the rain, an entire life turned to compost and dust.

Liam steps into his stagecoach across the park. He closes his umbrella, telling the driver to leave me. He is probably going to a pub, like he always does when he is upset. I want him to turn around, race back to me, suddenly take me in his arms and forgive me, but it would never be that easy. If I want things to be right between us, it will take years of kindness. I have no way to give him back all of his research, all of his hard work.

I had been so angry with him, just moments ago! I know I shouldn’t have thrown his folder, he is so protective of it. Some of the pages are the only existing copies in the world. He hadn’t had the time to copy most of the data, having only just acquired the documents for himself. Obtaining those looseleaf, fragile sheets of scrawls and printed letters had taken literally ten years. I feel a hole inside my chest, and it suddenly fills with guilt.

If he hadn’t been so terribly horrid to me! If he had treated me with some respect! If he had shown me some love and compassion, when I was reaching out to him. If he hadn’t been so cruel, I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have tossed his package off that bridge. I should have hit him, or made a public scene. I should have screamed at him, instead of throwing out his work. It was the wrong move, and I know it.

It isn’t Liam that I’m angry with. I would never hit him or scream at him, because my anger isn’t towards him. It was his obsession with his blasted work that drove me mad. It was the way he crooned over every new piece of information. I am in love with the man, but I hate his work with every fiber of my being. Suddenly, I feel relieved it is over, that his work would never be recovered. Maybe he would use the opportunity to find something more for himself.

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