This story is one of the October Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.
“You’re infuriating!” Autumn screamed, pressing her clammy palms to her forehead as if it would bring her some sort of relief from the waves of frustration coursing through her veins. It didn’t.
“Me! That’s rich!” Alex yelled back with as much conviction.
His tone stung. Autumn knew she was loud, erratic, and at times short tempered, but not Alex. He was a calming voice amongst the madness, the breeze on a stifling hot day or a mug of hot chocolate in the winter. He was her anchor.
But not today. She watched him clench and unclench his fists and scuff the edge of the carpet with the tip of his shoe like a child. She’d really blown it this time.
“Maybe…” He paused, inhaling deeply as if to regain his usual sense of calm, which only angered Autumn further. “Maybe we should take a break. Maybe we moved too fast.”
For the first time in her life, Autumn was truly rendered speechless. She looked at him through stinging eyes. “But…” she choked out, but no words followed. Sure, they’d bickered before, but never fought, not like this. Autumn felt defenceless, vulnerable, like a child lost in a supermarket.
The sound of rain hammering against the window and the bustle of London traffic were the only things that broke the palpable silence between them. Autumn couldn’t look at Alex and fixed her eyes instead on the little window and the way the glare of the traffic lights from the street below cast rainbow patterns on the grey October sky.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Alex nervously run his hand through his curly, dark hair and was filled with a new surge of rage. “Fine!” she snapped and stormed out of the front door, slamming it behind her with all her strength. Nineteen years and she still hadn’t stopped slamming doors like a toddler.
The cold bit at her bare arms, and she tugged at her short sleeves. The rain trickled down her cheeks and mingled with her salty tears. No one noticed the girl sobbing in the middle of the street. They were all far too preoccupied with getting out of the rain or getting to work or getting back home. Autumn turned around towards their own little apartment with its shabby walls and peeling white paint. She’d never felt more comfortable and safe anywhere else in the world. It was her home.
She took a deep breath. What was she doing? Alex didn’t mean what he’d said. They were bound to have more fights in the future. She might as well learn to be patient sooner rather than later.
She followed the steps back up to the door and raised her hand to knock. Suddenly the door swung open to reveal Alex standing there holding a coat of hers and an umbrella. “I’m sorry,” he breathed out before she had a chance to say or do anything. In those two words, all of her anger dissipated.
“Me too. Truce?” She smiled, rain still cascading from her soaked hair and clothes.
Alex’s face relaxed and broke into a smile. “Alright then,” he said.