Don’t look … don’t even think about it. Squeezing her eyes shut, she fought back the tears that threatened.
She wished she could go to the book shelf and find just the right text, something instructive, something pragmatic, something perfect … something to tell her what to do next; a book that would tell her how to recover her tattered marriage. There was no such text, no simple answers, no relief.
The sound of the toilet flushing jolted her. Justin was up.
“Mornin’ Love,” he said as he poured himself a coffee. She stood poised, still at the kitchen sink, watching him, his thickset shoulders relaxed. It was like any other morning as he pulled out a chair and sat at the kitchen table, reaching for the paper.
Was last night a dream … some evil nightmare?
Her marriage couldn’t be ending. He couldn’t have asked her to leave. He was her love, her Justin … her world. She had given him all she had for the last 12 months – making house, cooking, washing, reengineering the garden. She had nothing left; she was an empty shell, gutted.
She moved behind him, reading the headlines over his shoulder. She could smell him. She breathed deeply, taking it in. It was familiar, warm … manly.
It can’t be ending. I love him too much. It just doesn’t make sense.
Justin didn’t react to her closeness. He slurped his coffee as he mulled over the paper, apparently oblivious.
“Hon …,” Ava laid her hand on his shoulder. “Did you sleep okay?”
Justin stiffened at her touch. Ava, jolted by his reaction, pulled her hand back but remained frozen behind him, waiting for an answer.
“Good love. How about you?”
As she stood with her hand still hovering, the agony of the previous night flashed through her mind. She saw herself crying aloud abandoning any self-control as her grief had consumed her; sobbing into her pillow at the weight and sense of hopelessness; weeping silently as she stared at the ceiling craving his touch, craving his comfort; tossing and turning as her whole body burned and ached; curling into a ball as she tried desperately to let go her last hope. Had she slept at all? She couldn’t remember. She could only recall the black haze of torturous emotions that had wracked her body.
Yet here they were in the kitchen this morning, still alive, like any other day, the smell of coffee brewing, filling the air. The contrasting picture of the tormented night and the “normalness” of the morning seemed insane. She threw the tea towel on the table and walked out without speaking further. She had no heart to cook him breakfast ... not today, not ever. He had taken everything, cast her aside with no apparent remorse.
She had to leave, to save herself before ... she broke in pieces.
This is a tragic story about the termination of a marriage which had already deteriorated into a very one-sided romance.
The plot and setting are simple, but interest is maintained by the tense and powerful writing style.
This is a genre in which you are very much at home. The emotions of the woman are realistically described throughout the story and the ‘agony of the previous night’ flashback skilfully depicts her profound mental trauma. This evokes the empathy and sympathy of the reader.
The bizarre and contrasting scenarios of the tormented night and the ‘normalness’ of the morning are greatly enhanced by the use of very effective expressions such as: ‘was last night a dream … some evil nightmare’ and ‘He slurped his coffee as he mulled over the paper.’
There are no grammar problems that I could see.
I found it a little incongruous that Justin would still call her ‘love’ after telling to leave the house (presumably because he didn’t love her any more). It is also very unusual for a husband to ask the wife to leave rather than leaving himself. He must be a very insensitive and selfish individual – hence the title ‘No Heart’.
Those are my only (very minor) suggestions to improve what is already an excellently crafted piece of writing. Nice one.