End of the world, by Charlie Grosso

It has been nearly two months since that raining Monday morning at Jeffery’s. It has been at least half as long since the re-write of their ending scene.

A dry smile. She can’t believe it has taken this long for their last day to even come to mind. With an ocean between them, in the first class compartment of the Eurostar, moving from Rome to Paris, this is the first time she’s thought about the latest love and its end.

His mission had him away on the other coast as she celebrates one of the birthdays matching her multitudes of identies. He thoughtfully send her a gift that brings her back to the site of their clandestine mission. They exchange brief messages during his absence and even manages a phone call where he found a secluded spot and shout out his love for her, full name included, reckless as all hell. He returns from his assignment and reqeusts for a breakfast date immediately  She didn’t give it much thought. These short 59 second / 59 minute meets in between full scaled productions has become the norm in these short months. Their usual place at the usual time.

The city is drenched in the first serious rain fall of the season. He walks in, sits down, grabs her hand.

“I need to tell you something.”

“Ok.”

“I can’t do this any more.”

It feels surreal that he is holding her hand while he tells her this. She can’t see her own expression but she can see his. This looks like it hurts. A lot. She just got sucker punched but she can’t feel it yet.

“What happened?”

“I thought I was a better operative. I thoght I was more evolved…I was on a job and I had a text on from home, one from you and all the while people are talking in my ear about the details regarding the production I am on. I couldn’t keep straight who needed what from me anymore. Something has to go.”

There it is. The words that triggered the pain. There is a swell of emotions that is about to wash away her game face, hold on just a little longer, not yet.

“I hate that I am disposible.” She spits ouf those words through clenched teeth.

“You are not disposible. There is the person that I am related to by blood, the person that employees me…”

“…and there is me. You got overwheamled. Something had to give and I am what is disposable.”

He wants to tell her that is not true. He wants to rationalize with her but there is no where to go.

The edge is crumbling and she can feel the backlog of all the hidden feelings pushing against the flood gates. Let me out let me out! Break down is emminent. She inhales, prolonging the the illusion of okay. His words are digging into old wounds but her training holds her on the edge. His words and decisions are not about her, they are about him and his limits.

Inhale. Focus. Seperate what is relevant to them and their love and not taint it with all the ways we hurt in private and previous.

With another inhale, she dries her tears and removes the quiver in her voice.

“I always knew this day would come. I just didn’t think it would be a raining Monday at Jeffery’s”

“I thought I could keep this up forever. I thought I was that good.”

She laughs her dry wry laugh.

“This always had an expiration date to it. I am not going to try to change your mind. But I would like to request a re-write on this ending. Something more befitting of what we had.”

“You are remarkably… unconventional and evolved. I was anticipating you throwing coffee in my face.”

“Did you bring a spare shirt?!”

It took a little while for them to come to an agreement on the re-write of their last scene. If there would be a re-write at all was uncertain for many weeks. He wants to protect himself. He doesn’t want to expose himself to feelings that he lacks the tools to manage. She believe ending should be treated with the same attention and respect as any beginnings, even if it does hurt.

A full day together. Their first and their last.

They agreed to a low risk operation, after all, there is no longer any need for eleborate plans. Leave the city for a long drive out to the far east of the island. He is a still the man with a plan and he had planned lunch for them at a beautiful inn. She half wondered if there is a room waiting for them. Hospital corners and thousand thread count sheets. In this town where they are annoymous, where no one knows them, there is not a room waiting. They will play in the daylight on this very last day. Everything is out in the open.

They keep on driving, furthur and further out…

“Lets drive as far as we can, to the edge of this world.” She like the poetry in this drive.

The city loosen its grip on them just long enough. This drive to the beach, to the edge of their shared world, their collective identity, almost feels….normal. They are just a couple who is out for a long drive in the beginning of summer.

“This is where you and I live, the edge of fantasy and reality.” He says as they stare out into the Atlantic.

She says nothing. Yes. He is right. Magic happens at the intersection of fantasy and reality and he doesn’t quiet understand that. Here is where the imagined becomes real. All these months, she thought he was a better spy than her, as it turns out, she is the superior magician.

They stop for pie. A country pie shop that is famous for their pie. He carefully creates his alibi with reciepts, pie purchase and plausible stories. Nothing has changed, not even today.

“This is how I like to interact with the world. From the inside of my car. I am happy watching it from the inside of the car.” He volunteers this out of nowhere.

Piece by piece, everything falls into place.

These sentiments are not ones she’s heard from him before yet they complete the picture of him. She is about to head out into the world, straight into a daring adventure where anything could happen. She never wanted to be a step removed. She never wanted to be protected.  She always wants to get in, get dirty, get involved. To conjure magic, one can’t hang back and watch. Safety offered by insulation has never interested her.

As they head back into the city, she feels the distance between them expand. Inch by inch, he slips back into his cover and she sheds her love for him. He had planned dinner for them and part of her almost don’t want it. She wants to return to her safe house, be naked in her sorrow for what they had, for all the unrealized potentials. Instead, they went to dinner. This is what is known as the transition meal. You are no longer what you were and you need a transition scene. This is the first low risk act in the new role and it is important for this meal to be amicable, fun, friendly. It sets the tone for the future.

So concludes this clandestine affair.

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