She stood in the doorway of the room, taking a last look at where he had been. The motel was stripped bare–sheets and blankets gone, furniture gone, any usable electronics long since looted–there was no trace of his presence. She knew, however, that he’d stayed in this place, died in this place. Glancing down at her phone, she reread the final messages she’d ever received–
I wish I could see you.
I miss you.
I love you.
Be careful. Get out as soon as you can. I love you.
Goodbye, honey. I love you.
She blinked back tears, thoughts churning. “I’m sorry I didn’t make it.” The words sounded overly loud in the empty space. “I tried. It’s just–everything’s falling apart, and we couldn’t get away, but…” She heard a noise behind her, and turned.
He was a few feet away, a backpack on one shoulder pulling him slightly off-balance. He wasn’t meeting her eyes, but looking at the threshold of the motel room. “Why are you doing that?”
She swiped at the wetness on her cheeks. “I wanted to say goodbye.”
He didn’t respond.
She ignored him, stepping just inside the room. “I’m sorry. I miss you, too, and I wish I could see you again. I love you.” The silence in the room was interrupted by the distant sounds of their group loading up.
He followed her in, his hand brushing against her arm. “We gotta go.”
She pulled away, making a quick circuit of the room, checking again for anything she could take with her.
There was nothing.
She stopped, frozen in grief. After a pause, she closed her eyes and listened. She tuned out the other refugees, his brother, even the sound of her own heart.
When she opened her eyes again, she sucked in a deep breath. “Goodbye, honey.” She turned slowly, scanning the room, and walked out.
He watched her walk away, then fell into step just behind her.