She could hear herself breathing. He had just turned to bring her back the stuff. She stepped inside through the screen door, shutting it quickly. "The mosquitoes are terrible this year, don't you think?" The air inside the apartment smelt the same as she remembered. He came in holding the box, it looked heavy. He set it down gently next to the front door. It looked like he had taken care of the packaging himself.
"How's it going? " She asked form the kitchen table. He was wearing a thick beard and the same tattered clothing she left him in. "You're back!" he said. "I wanted my stuff." she said relaxing. Her reasoning made sense, she had invested a lot in them. The house, the car, the cutlery, "Want some cake" He asked abruptly leaning into the fridge interrupting her the same way he always had. "Bugs are bad this year'eh? " he asked coming up from the fridge with a mouth full of frozen ice cream cake.
All she could do was look at him standing there. It was half past three in the afternoon. "Is that the baby dragons birthday cake you're eating" she asked, "he's six this year." She watched him munching on the desert. "Yeah, yeah it is, we just had the party last night, there was sixteen kids." he told her and they both laughed. Then he laughed a little louder and said "I know you're no stranger to that." The humor died down quietly, they both kept their eyes on the floor together, they both felt so ashamed.
"So you kept the stuff eh." she said looking over at the tightly warped container. She remembered her shoes, the blow drier and scarf. He sat down at his desk at the other end of the room and said "I washed the toilet with your tooth brush." They both laughed out loud again. Then he said "Schools out eh?" proudly. "Yeah" she said suddenly realizing how bad she wanted to have the two of them over with. He sensed her nervousness, it made him smile. She quickly got up, "going anywhere?" he asked. "I have to go" she said hesitantly. Laughing he said "don't forget the box." "Thanks" she said anxiously smiling. He looked at her thinking she was beautiful as she gathered herself, and the box with her share of their stuff, to leave.
The door locking shut behind her immediately made her feel better. She had her stuff and everything between the two of them was officially forgotten, "It's over" she exhaled with relief. She was so happy as she walked toward the exit at the end of the hallway. But the happiness began to fade with each progressive step toward her goal. When she finally reached the end of the hall she stopped to have a listen to the sounds coming from inside that box. As she move her ear closer to the bass of the cardboard she began to hear a light beating. Not realizing what it was she moved the box closer to her ear, pressing it against herself. Then there in the doorway she realized that she had griped it from him, that he had given it to her from the start and she didn't know, it was him, it was his still beating ever present