"I can't do this anymore," she was saying.  Eyes like red lights.  Neck like a map of rivers.  Hair like a perfect packet of snakes.  Beneath them, a stone.  He nodded.

"You just aren't meeting my needs—I'm sorry, I know that's blunt, but you really aren't.  And we've lived a fairytale for a while, sure, but I need more than words, I need... I need..."

That incessant buzzing.  That bloody incessant buzzing crawling through the crags in his brain.  That incessant buzzing, it wouldn't—he watched her pace around the room and the buzzing grew louder.  He tried, inconspicuously, to scratch at his head.  He ended up scratching his eye instead.  It hurt.  He looked back at her, tried to focus.

"...and I've tried, I really have, you can't say I haven't.  God knows I have.  In fact, not to sound bitter, but there were times where I really felt like I was the only one trying..."

That trip to his parents' beach house.  The buzzing had started then.  It wasn't loud, sort of like pins and needles before anything goes numb.  It felt a little nice.  He could sift the more important things through the buzzing and let the others float around in the empty spaces.  Words were chopped, selected, reselected, carefully chosen.

"...so I just thought, you know, maybe it'd get better and she said, maybe it will.  I mean, she was really encouraging.  But in the end, I realized no, this was my decision.  It was my relationship and there's just no passion.  No passion, I mean surely you've felt the lack of it.  There's absolutely nothing here.  And I thought..."

She was getting more and more agitated, working herself up into a fuss and he sighed, passive.  Apathetic.  He concentrated on the buzzing.  Sometimes, it would reveal itself to be a single word, said over and over again by so many voices at so high a speed—

"Are you even listening?"

"Yes."  He said.  He'd become good at sounding assertive when needed.  With a nod, she continued.  He retreated.  There was nothing romantic about this.  The stark light burrowed its way against each wrinkle.  The curtains needed washing.  Above them, the ceiling fan spun calmly on, irreverent.  The kids would need picking up in thirty minutes.  There was discolouration on the fold of her beige blouse.  He hadn't brushed his teeth yet.  Things like that.

"...and that's why I want to end this.  Do you hear me? I am breaking up with you."

At this most unfortunate time, he realized what the buzzing had been saying:


He tried to push his words through the wall, unbuttoned his collar.  Ran his fingers through his hair.  Looked uneasy for the benefit of both parties in the room.


He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing happened.  The wall resumed.

She stared at him, expectant.  Kindness crept into her voice.  "We'll talk more about it later."

"Sure," he said.  "Will you pick the kids up, or shall I?"