Yeah, he said. I’m going to have to move out of Niall’s place.
When? said Marianne.
Pretty soon. Next week maybe.
Her face hardened, without displaying any particular emotion. Oh, she said. You’ll be going home, then.
He rubbed at his breastbone then, feeling short of breath. Looks like it, yeah, he said.
She nodded, raised her eyebrows briefly and then lowered them again, and stared down into her cup of coffee. Well, she said. You’ll be back in September, I assume.
His eyes were hurting and he closed them. He couldn’t understand how this had happened, how he had let the discussion slip away like this. It was too late to say he wanted to stay with her, that was clear, but when had it become too late? It seemed to have happened immediately. He contemplated putting his face down on the table and just crying like a child. Instead he opened his eyes again.
Yeah, he said. I’m not dropping out, don’t worry.
So you’ll only be gone three months.
There was a long pause.
I don’t know, he said. I guess you’ll want to see other people, then, will you?
Finally, in a voice that struck him as truly cold, Marianne said: Sure.
He got up then and poured his coffee down the sink, although it wasn’t finished. When he left her building he did cry, as much for his pathetic fantasy of living in her apartment as for their failed relationship, whatever that was.