TUESDAY: CHAPTER I

The world comes to an end on a Tuesday.

Because it’s a thawing, blossoming Tuesday in spring when he pulls a ring from his pocket, bends down on one knee, proposes to the youngest daughter of an heiress; and the spectators watch with avid eyes and prosecco slick lips. They watch the boy in the family garden with the family heirloom. They watch with delight and act as though just last year he hadn’t been a causality of war.

But he proposes. Recites a speech about pinks of cheeks and diamond bright eyes, souls meant to be stitched together and something like happiness budding in the sorer parts of his soul.

He proposes, and she says yes, and he can’t quite keep his eyes off the girl entangled in one of the rose bushes; watching the scene with sorrowful eyes and a flat line mouth.

The world ends on a Tuesday.

But it doesn’t quite stop spinning.

___

The invitation arrives on a Thursday.

And the world has already ended, has already come crashing around her ears as she watched the rich girl blush and the swarm of spectator’s coo and the sun glint of the diamond now permanently affixed on her ring finger – but now, seeing the invitation to the engagement party etched in swirling letters on thick creme cardstock, now she’s feeling the aftershocks.

Because there’s a wistful, wilful, wretched part of her brain that fancies it should be her name irrevocably tied behind his.

Because she’d been his first kiss, his first love, his first. Had daydreamed about a diamond ring and a pompous wedding and a house on top of a hill. Had wanted and wished and all of it, all of it, was destroyed with the war.

Because he had picked his side. Dug his grave and made his bed and promptly forgotten about her the night he fled with a murder charge hanging like a sword over his head.

___

The engagement party is on a Monday.

Radiation is settling in her bones as she watches the girl’s fingers curl like talons around his arm. Her laugh something shrill and chilly and fake, every bit as practiced as the smile that she’s offering fawning guests.

She’d been his family’s first choice, after the war.

When their reputation was at stake and a pretty face, an important name would be just enough to wipe the slate clean. He was getting a fresh start, they said. Falling in love and beginning to remedy his wrongs.

No one ever discussed the girl he left behind.

With mascara smudged cheeks and bitten-to-the-nub fingernails. Waiting, worrying, realising just why he hadn’t come back.

Seeing him again is the burn of a cauterised wound. Wax dripping, melting, spilling down her throat as she attempts to appear some semblance of calm, of content, of happy – like she knows that she’s supposed to.

Seeing him again is the burn of a cauterised wound.

And speaking to him again is something much worse.

___