It was night and the rain came down hard on the twinkling lights of the Steel City. The young man stood in his briefs at the window as shadows danced about the unlit bedroom of his off-campus apartment on the eighteenth floor of a steel and glass building. He watched the rain and the lights as the young woman slept in the bed behind him. Both were graduate students. In the morning she was returning to a university on the west coast.
The young woman stirred. “Sweetie,” she said. “What on earth are you doing?”
“Trying to get use to living without you.”
She was silent a long time. The bedroom was filled with the sound of the falling rain. She said, “Come back to bed. Come back to bed and I’ll try to make it better.”
“Better? That won’t make it better. That’ll only make it worse.”
“Not even better for a little while?”
He watched the rain and the lights of the city. When he graduated he would teach in the city. He would live in the city. She would live on the west coast.
“Well,” he said, “maybe for a little while.”
He knew nothing could ever make it better, not even for a little while. He turned and approached the bed anyway. It was the brave thing to do.