I was going for something here, but I lost the thread of it early on, and so I opted to abort the scene rather force it for the sake of being stubborn.
And then there is the tie, the polyester-cotton strip of fabric she'd clutched in her fist while the man she'd hoped to marry had severed the ties between them. Navy and burgundy and dry as sloughed skin as she'd sat stiffly in a wicker chair that had creaked like old bones. She had playfully plucked it from around his neck just before he'd covered her hands with his and murmured, We need to talk. So soft and low, the tolling of a doomsday bell through thick fog. She had known, oh, she had known as she'd dropped onto the balls of her feet and forced herself to keep her gaze steady, but she had hoped anyway, hoped with the fervor of the young and foolish and the utterly besotted. She had wanted to believe that happily-ever-afters were more than wistful constructs of human imagination.
So she'd wrapped the tie around her hand like a tether and kneaded the fabric between her restless fingers while the man to whom it belonged had sat in the chair opposite hers and broken her heart with the oblivious efficiency of a professor obliterating a graduate thesis. It wasn't her fault, he'd said, but he'd decided that he wanted children, after all, and since she didn't, then there was no future for them. He'd never meant to mislead her, and certainly not to hurt her. When he'd said he had no desire for children, he'd meant it, but minds change, and so do people, and he'd come to realize that he wanted a legacy greater than that of a stack of moldering pages in a deserted university archive. He'd wanted his name to resonate deep in someone's bones, not just flit across their weed-soaked consciousness as that history professor they took that one semester, the hardass who required legible and coherent English in his essays. He'd wanted it to sing in someone's blood long after he was nothing but dust and bone in the bowels of the earth. He'd wanted irrefutable proof that he had once trod upon the earth, and she, with her inert, unwilling womb, could not offer it.
So goddamned earnest he'd been, and she'd longed to leap from her chair and punch him in the face with his own tie, but damn her ferocious pride, she'd simply sat with tears burning in her eyes and her hands fisted in her lap and let him blow himself out. She'd be damned if she'd give him the satisfaction of seeing her crumble, sniveling and begging and exposing her bleeding heart with snot and shame all over her face. She would be like Nana Collie, who had never suffered fools a day in her life, and who had never traded her hard-won dignity for the shallow affection of a man. And so, she had concentrated on the cool hank of fabric in her hand and the needling itch of stray wicker fibers on the backs of her knees, and when she'd been sure her mouth would open on a scream or a sob, she'd met his solicitous, guilty gaze and said, I see. So brittle her voice had been, but it had been steady, and she'd taken a blind, savage pride in that as she'd willed her hands to remain on her lap and not wipe her stinging eyes. Well, then, I'll leave you to your legacy.
And so she had. She'd risen from the chair in a fluid motion and strode into the bedroom without a backward glance. Legs like stilts and a spine of blown glass and a bruised swollen heart inside her chest, but her back had been ramrod-straight when she passed him, and she hadn't made a sound as she'd packed her bags. Just shallow breaths between dry, bloodless lips and the brisk snap of blouses yanked unceremoniously from wire hangers and the furious yowl of closing zippers. Not a word as he'd hovered uncertainly in the bedroom doorway like a hangdog fetch, silhouetted by the living-room light and sidling nervously from foot to foot in his leather loafers. Not a word as she'd shouldered past his ineffectual apologies and promises to help her any way he could in a professional capacity and stalked to the door. Not a word as she'd shifted her suitcase from one hand to the other, yanked open the door, and marched into her unexpected future alone. And not a single word as she'd spun on her heel and jerked the door closed on his goodbye.
She'd kept her silence until she'd escaped into the night, and then she'd set off down the sidewalk, dragging her baggage behind her and bending beneath it like an aged washerwoman. She'd made it two blocks before her resolve had failed and she'd staggered to a stop beside a lamppost and collapsed against it. She'd dropped the bags and crammed her fist into her mouth to stifle the sobs that had seized her diaphragm and threatened to suffocate her, and it was then that she'd realized she still had his tie wrapped around her hand like a forget-me-not. Her first impulse had been to tear it off and trample it underfoot in petty, flailing vengeance, but she'd thought of Nana Collie, proud and strong and unbroken, and what she would think of her if she succumbed to the atavistic, graceless urge to pitch a fit like a spoiled toddler denied a sweet.
I'm hoping I can integrate the glorious Nana Collie, that fierce matrilineal matriarch, into the story in the future.