I saw him motion, from the corner of my eye, waving his cane in an up-and-down arc, as you might wave a flag. I turned towards my elderly neighbor from his perch on his porch, where he watched the days and people go by. He was mouthing something as Kyle passed behind me with another tote on his way to the car.
I set my tote down and crossed the tiny patches of grass and abandoned flower beds that we called yards, to better see what he was trying to say to me, only me.
Kyle passed again, projecting his hello to our neighbor as he disappeared back into the house.
"Are you moving out?" he asked, nodding.
I took a step backwards, his words colliding square with my chest, knocking my already truncated air supply down a notch.
"Are you moving out?" he repeated, smiling gently.
Kyle's footsteps in flip flops drug behind me, another tote to the car. I turned to watch him navigate the stairs, exercising caution as he felt my eyes fall on him.
"No," I forced a small laugh. "We're getting married on Friday. We're taking the decorations to the florist today."
My elderly neighbor's cloudy blue eyes followed Kyle as he shuffled past again.
"Oh, just hearing the way you two fight sometimes ..." he faltered as I looked down at my bare feet, palms pressing against my already aching lower back. He cleared his throat.
I forced another laugh and thanked him, returning to my abandoned tote and the overloaded car, sighing deeply as I realized I would have to rearrange everything to get it all to fit without endangering the vintage china and glassware I'd carefully been hoarding over the past year.
When we would return over the weekend, my elderly neighbor would motion me over again and hand me a ten dollar bill, and tell me a woman in my condition shouldn't be working as hard as I was.
I smiled and thanked him, making a mental note to write him a proper thank you card.
I find comfort in that it rained this year. Every year since, the weather has been near identical to the day -- sunny, unseasonably warm, bright. But not this year, the date falling on a Friday once again. It rained and rained, skies overcast and clouded, the hint of winter on the tips of the wind and the edge of the raindrops.
I spent my sixth wedding anniversary cleaning my house, for the home visit from the social worker from Children's Services to determine if my home was fit for the children I made it for, the forms for food stamps on the dining room table, waiting for questions to be answered before being submitted.
He was there. And the girl, the girl who cried tears of joy for the first time in her life six years prior, she couldn't understand how this boy who promised her safety and security and love forever and always and no matter what, how he was gone without remorse, without a look back.
How the family we made wasn't worth changing for, trying harder for.
How this could be the result of nine years of effort, of hope.
We are getting a divorce, he said. We are no longer in a relationship. We will never be in a relationship again. This is over.
The day before, he had told me I deserved a nice anniversary, that he felt bad for ruining yet another one.
I have never been able to grasp his disparities.
I kissed him one last time, as he left the home we made for us. His condescending laughter at what I'm sure he saw as a desperate measure gave way to muffled sobs and for a moment, we held on to each other as we choked and struggled to breathe, his quivering lips on my forehead as I couldn't bear to look him in the eye.
And then he was gone into the rainy night and so with him the last of my resolve, of my belief in what we should have been, what we could have been.
This is what I get for believing in fairy tales.