She was silent. The silence so loud it was as if the world had been put on mute. It was just them. He reached out and ran the thick pad of his thumb along her bottom lip as the other cradled her neck.
"How was your trip?" he asked, fingering the arm rest of the chair.
The rectangular shaped desk between them was more than desk. It embodied the tangible gestures as they looked away from one another and fiddled with imaginary things around them. It was the space between two people who once loved.
"It was good," she said, looking down then back up at the darkened shadows of his eyes.
She smoothed the papers on her desk, flattening the curled corners with her right hand.
"Did you go into the city?"
"I did. It was amazing. Really great. Amazing," she repeated, "How are you? You look pale," she added rushed.
"I've been painting. A new collection," he held his hands out. His fingers and nail beds were covered in bits of rainbow colors.
"That's good. You do better when you're working," she trailed off, "Creating."
They were quiet. The noises of the building filled the air. She reached up to tuck a long brown strand behind her ear.
"He asked you, then?"
She looked at him eyes wide, then at her hand where a small row of diamonds hugged her ring finger. It was inevitable. Her hand, life wouldn't stay a secret. This world was too small.
"Yes," she nodded and looked away.
She couldn't meet his gaze, not yet, but she couldn't stare at the words on the sheets in front of her forever.
"I knew he would."
The words fell from his lips and landed on the desk in front of her. Thump. The tone snapped her head up. His face was shadowed, lines deeper than they had been minutes ago. He stared at her.She wanted to turn away, but she had no reason to. She swallowed and stared back until he moved his gaze to his stained fingernails.
"I didn't know if..." her voice caught, "I should tell you or wait 'till--"
"Someone else told me?" his voice loud now.
"I don't owe you anything," she said.
"I--" his voice fell away as her words returned, heavy on his shoulders. "You're right."
He stood and walked around the desk. She jumped up pushing herself away from the desk, from him.
"I'm really happy for you," he said reaching out for her. He pulled her towards him, squeezed her hard, tight against his lean chest, then pushed her away. Without a word he turned the corner and left. The cold warmth of his body was barely felt before it was gone.
She stood where he had left her, still. Part of her wanted to go after him, to explain, to tell him that... She didn't know what. She looked down at her hand and smiled. She fingered the ring with her thumb, the metal warm. She looked back up at the hallway. Her smile faded.
More people had begun to arrive. Artists, musicians, all tended to work at night. Deep voices and unintelligible conversations rumbled in the wide hallways. Strings strummed, drummers drummed, all the noises seemed to assault the loudness of the silence of his exit, but it also helped to drown it out.
She packed her papers and computer away and slung the messenger bag over her shoulder before turning out the lights to her space. The bands music followed her as she walked to the car. She looked up and saw him through the window. His gestures were jerky and on a different beat than the music as he splattered red and white paint streaking it across the wall size canvas. She stood next to her car and stared up watching as his arms moved back and forth as if he were conducting an orchestra across the canvas. He was illuminated in the bright studio light as he swayed back and forth, graceful in his own staccato way. She smiled again. It didn't reach her eyes.
The car door slammed against the night and she drove away, without looking back, the road illuminated by streetlights.