She stood there, suitcases packed in the small flat she had called home for eight years. Memories flooded her mind as she stepped to the window and gazed across at the park. They had been so happy when they moved in. After dating each other for two years, they decided that they would take big step of moving in together. Of course, her parents hadn’t been thrilled. They were Christians and didn’t believe in unmarried people living together. At the time she wasn’t into church that much and felt that if two people loved each other, there wasn’t anything wrong with them living together. This flat was Mike’s and hers. Besides, they had talked about the possibility of getting married one day.
She smiled as she remembered how they had to order take out because she had burnt the roast because she had forgotten to set the timer. It was the smoke coming out of the oven that alerted her and she managed to turn off the oven and open the windows before the smoke alarm went off. Mike had been a good sport about it. Since then, she had improved greatly in the kitchen.
The smile faded and tears sprang to her eyes. She was leaving Mike. After ten years together, she was ending their relationship. It was hard. She had invested so much in this relationship but she couldn’t continue like this. Whenever she brought up the subject of them getting married, he seemed reluctant to talk about it or hedged around it until she dropped it. Then, one evening she asked him point blank as they were having dinner if he wanted to get married. He told her that he wasn’t ready. He said that he liked things the way they were at the moment. Marriage was a big step and he just wasn’t ready to take it right now. Besides, they hadn’t really seriously talked about it, right? It was something that was possible one of these days, just not now. They were still young and had plenty of time to think about tying the knot.
She didn’t mention marriage again after that but it weighed on her mind. Living together was troubling her now and it became a conviction when she started going to church with her friend. The first time she went was when Mike was away on business. Carla invited her one Saturday morning and she absolutely loved it. The people were so warm and friendly and she felt at home. She went to church every Saturday after that and one day, she could have sworn that the pastor was speaking directly to her. That day she was convinced that it was wrong for her to be living with a man she wasn’t married to. When Mike got back from his trip she shared her feelings with him and he got angry.
“I will not be forced into getting married just because you suddenly have an attack of conscience,” he declared before he stormed out of the apartment. After that their relationship was strained. Whenever he wanted to make love, she said she had a headache until he finally stopped trying. They hardly spoke. Most of the time she ate alone. He was gone when she got up in the mornings and was in bed when he got in. The business trips became more frequent. She was miserable. She spoke to Carla about it and her friend encouraged her to pray about the situation. She did and she was convinced that God wanted her to move out. And here she was. Suitcases packed and ready to say goodbye to the man she had loved for ten years. Marriage was out of the question as far as he was concerned and she couldn’t settle for less. So, this was it. She had to leave. She was taking only her clothes and trinkets and books. Everything else she was going to leave. Carla offered her the guest room until she found a place.
She turned away from the window and walked over to the mantelpiece where several photos of Mike and her stood. She reached for the one of them standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. They had spent two weeks in Paris. She had believed that they would return there one day–perhaps for their honeymoon. She was tempted to take the photo but shook her head and turned away. She didn’t want any reminders of what they once had. The memories would always be there. She didn’t need any physical reminders or mementos. She glanced at the letter she had propped up beside the photo. She had written it last night. In it she explained why she had to leave and that she loved him. She will always love him. She also mentioned that she would leave her key in the rental office.
She walked over to where her suitcases were and she pulled them behind her. She opened the door and put them outside in the passageway and then turned and locked the door. As she went slowly down the hallway, she felt as if her heart would break. She left the key at the rental office, not seeing the curious look the woman gave her as she walked away.
Before she climbed into the taxi, she turned and looked up at the window of the flat which overlooked the park one final time.