Savannah sat in Joe’s bed, for more than a few minutes, completely stunned that he just left her there once again to rot by herself on Christmas. He didn’t even blink an eye – he just left. The anxiety and discomfort she felt inside of his family home all by herself was nearly crippling. In the beginning, she was prepared to fend off the unwanted stares and blatant disapproval by his family, but now to be fighting with Joe on top of it – she just couldn’t handle it. She couldn’t handle not having Joe as her ally. She gave up Christmas with her own family for the second year in a row, for this? It was too much.
Savannah’s heart was heavy in her chest as the tears streaked down her face, the panic swelling up inside of her. She had no idea how to handle herself in this type of situation. And adding a little salt to her already gaping wounds, her mouth began to salivate extensively, signifying the bile rising up in the back of her throat. It was the fastest she moved in hours. She was out of Joe’s bed within seconds, racing down the hallway to the bathroom. She slammed the door shut behind her as she nearly missed the toilet when the bile ejected from her throat. The overwhelming anxiety mixed with her emotions over Joe had sent her over the edge.
As Savannah sat by the toilet and cried, she knew she couldn’t stay there – not even one more day. She knew she needed to get out of there. After her stomach finally settled and her tears turned cool on her cheeks, she pulled herself up off the cold tile floor and cleaned herself up. She was done feigning politeness. She was done with this bullshit family Christmas. She was done with sideways glances and shit talked behind her back. She was just done. She really needed to get away from there, from everything, from everyone. She needed to go home. She hated just about everything about Joe’s family. And she hated the way Joe was treating her, as if she didn’t feel alienated enough. She wasn’t going to fight with Joe for the remainder of the trip, or hide away in his room like a cast-off. It was absolutely absurd to even keep on this way.
When Savannah left the bathroom, she went straight to the guest bedroom and immediately booked a flight back to California. After, she began throwing her belongings into the suitcase with no rhyme or reason – just a piled up mess of clothes and toiletries to sort out when she was back in the confines of her apartment. Her emotions were out of control. She let out a few choked sobs, trying to gather her composure to continue on with her mission, but all she could think about was Joe. Her heart was breaking just thinking about leaving him there. But she knew she had to. And she knew she had to leave while she still had the guts to, because if Joe were in front of her, he would try to stop her from leaving – whether he was upset with her or not. She wasn’t prepared for another fight. She didn’t want to fight anymore.
Savannah stalked down the hallway to Joe’s room and grabbed her things before retreating back to the guest bedroom. Once her belongings were shut tightly in her suitcase, she scheduled an Uber to pick her up.
Feeling the guilt and the heartache in her chest weighing her down, Savannah made one last trip down to Joe’s room to leave him some sort of correspondence to tell him how she felt and where she went. She cried as she opened the journal he always had with him that he used to jot down lyrics and random thoughts. Savannah’s hands were shaking as she opened it to a fresh page to leave her explanation. And with a deep breath she began to write.
My ribs are like an iron cage, trapping my heart inside like a bird fighting desperately for freedom. My feelings are hard to explain and I don’t think you will understand. You have proven that to me today. I don’t know what you want from me. Your words contradict your actions, and I don’t know which to believe. Maybe we rushed into everything too soon. Maybe it’s all too much – what we’ve been doing all along, the lies we’ve told to get us here. Maybe this is our condemnation for all the sins we’ve committed with each other. I think this needs to be over for now. I think it’s just too hard to be us in this façade you want me to live in.
I’m hurting. But in the end I’m doing it to myself. I could be completely ignorant to what’s going on around me. I choose to pay attention. I choose to be the type of person to want to help someone when they’re hurting. And I know your anger fails to see the point in the heat of the moment, but Nick is hurting right now too, and I can’t act like it doesn’t affect me – because it does. I can’t help it. I know you don’t like it. And I know you’re probably thinking things you shouldn’t about the two of us. But I want you to know this is not about Nick. None of this is about Nick. Right now it’s about you and me, and how things just aren’t working anymore.
It hurts too much to be with that one person who you love so much you think you might die if it were to ever end. That’s you to me. And honestly, it isn’t a logical way of living. It’s just not. This whole relationship has been a broken record of mistakes that will constantly replay until I turn it off. Until I end it. I hate this feeling. I feel like my heart is going to explode. I can already feel it tearing away from my body. Yes, I love you, but now it’s all falling apart and everything is crashing down on me. And the weight is too much. I can’t hold it alone. But you’ve already left me.
My chest hurts and I don’t want to deal with this anymore, so I’m leaving. I’m sorry.
Savannah couldn’t control her sobs as she wrote the letter. She didn’t sign it. She just left the journal open on his bed. Eventually he would find it when he couldn’t find her. She knew it was a cowardly way to end things, but she didn’t know how much more she could take before she broke down both physically and mentally. Life was unstable enough without all the self-sabotaging she always seemed to do. She knew she had to let go of it all.
When Savannah got the notification that her Uber was there, she grabbed her suitcase and purse from the guest bedroom before quietly making her way down the staircase, praying she could leave the house undetected. The family was nowhere in sight, although she could hear their voices in the den just a few rooms away. Hearing Joe’s voice made Savannah’s stomach clench and it caused tears to well in her eyes before she slipped out the front door like a ghost – neither seen, nor heard.
The Uber was waiting in the road as she made her way down to the gate. She wiped away her tears as she slid into the back seat, trying to keep her vision steady ahead of her. But she couldn’t help but sneak one last glance at the house as a feeling of hopefulness swelled inside of her. She hoped Joe would appear at the door and run down to her, telling her not to leave – telling her how much he loved her and that he never meant to make her feel the way he did. But as the car slowly made its way down the road, the feelings of hopefulness were replaced with bitterness and sadness. Joe didn’t sense her presence leaving him. He was oblivious that she was walking out of his life.
Savannah’s tears didn’t subside until she reached the airport and the cab driver gave her a look of pure pity as he wished her well. She didn’t need his pity though, because from then on out she decided she was going to be strong. At least until she could break down in the comfort of her own home.
It wasn’t until she was sitting in her seat on the airplane waiting for take-off that her phone buzzed in her hand. Joe’s name flashed across the screen and her stomach plummeted. She had to hold back the vomit in her throat as a wave of nausea passed through her. She silenced the ringer, but let the call complete itself until it reached voicemail. The anxiety swelled in her chest thinking about Joe reading the letter she left him. She wondered what he was doing. She wondered how it affected him. But she quickly pushed those thoughts away as she pressed play on the voicemail message he left. She took a deep breath as his voice hit her ears.
“Savannah, where the hell did you go? This isn’t funny. Call me back,” Joe’s impatient voice erupted through the receiver of her phone as she listened to the voicemail.
When the message ended, she shut her phone off and shoved it into her purse. Savannah’s heart plummeted even further hearing the animosity and annoyance in his tone. If that was how he felt toward her, then she knew she was making the right decision. He brought her into that unstable environment, and just fed her to the wolves, leaving her to fend for herself. If she didn’t have a partner in her life that would have her back no matter the circumstance, then she knew they were not the right person for her.
Even so, she knew it was going to be a hard lesson to make it through. She didn’t know how easy it was going to be to survive through anything without him by her side.
When Savannah got home to California, when she stepped foot in her apartment her world just sort of crumbled. She was finally feeling the weight of what she did. She walked out on Joe. She walked out on the man she loved.
Joe was everywhere in her apartment. From the Christmas tree he helped her decorate, to his sweater that lay across the back of her couch, to his coffee cup that still sat in the sink from the morning they left for New Jersey. His scent was still so prominent on the pillows and sheets that lined her bed. His memory was everywhere, haunting her.
And it was hard to come to terms with what happened. Only days before, they were in it together – a team. They were happy and in love. And just one trip to visit his family for the holiday’s brought them down in flames.
Savannah spent her first few hours back in California breaking down into an emotional mess. Waves of despair crashed over her as she wept into her pillow. It was the hardest decision she ever made, leaving Joe. She couldn’t shut off her mind. She couldn’t sleep. She replayed the memories of the past couple of days over and over. She tried to justify her actions to herself as she remembered Joe’s face the last time she saw him – his look of indignation, of cynicism. It resonated through her. She could remember every bad feeling she felt while she was in New Jersey – the discomfort, all of the out-of-control feelings, the burden. In the end, she knew what she did was for the best. Because it wasn’t right for his parents to treat her the way they did. And it wasn’t right for Joe to turn on her the way he did.
Savannah buried her face in her pillow and screamed as loud as she could before the overwhelming emotions flooded her, and tears dripped from her eyes once again.
After a few hours of staring at the wall, letting the tears create pools on her pillow, she felt numb. Curled into a ball, sheets wrapped around her mess of a body – a tangled wreck. She couldn’t cry anymore. She had no tears left in her. She was broken. She tried to tell herself that what she did was the best for both of them. They loved each other, but not being able to coexist with his family was just too much. There was too much against them. They had too much history – too much baggage.
And if Savannah and Nick couldn’t co-exist somehow without Joe thinking she was going to fuck him the first chance she got, then it really wasn’t going to work. She tried to reassure Joe she would never go back to Nick, that she would never even fathom doing something of that nature ever again. But she supposed he had it in the back of his mind, once a cheater always a cheater. And she only had herself to blame for that.