She could feel the fight coming. The one they always had. The one she always lost. But it felt different this time. There was something strange in the air. The feeling of familiarity; he will say this, I will say that, he will do this, I will do that, just wasn't there. Just the fact that she could feel herself detaching from the argument was different. It was like she was watching two people in a movie have a fight that she wasn't part of.
He had always played her like a violin. Knew exactly what to say and what to do to get her to respond the way he wanted. As she watched the fight building it was as though she could see him beginning to play, and then pausing...she wasn't responding the way she normally did and so he checked his instrument and started again. Playing faster and faster, trying to get her to move to the music as she always had. But she didn't. Every time he went to the familiar refrains and she did not follow he played harder. It was as though she could see him whipping his bow across the strings. Sweat flying from his brow as he played his masterpiece. The one that never failed to bring the house down. The bow started to fray from the stress, the strings dangerously close to breaking from the strain...and yet she did not move. Did not get up to dance. Did not applaud his performance. She realized that she could no longer hear the music.
And she felt...sad? Relieved? Happy? She wasn't sure how she felt about it all. Even though she had known for a long time that he was manipulating her, it was familiar and in the familiarity there was comfort. Even in the hours after the fight when she would think, I should have said this or I should have said that, she had always felt at least a little glad that it was over and they were done fighting. But now, now that she wasn't doing what he wanted and knew that she wouldn't be again, that from this moment on everything was different she didn't know what she felt.
And so she left. She told him goodnight, picked up her bag and went to hail a cab back to her apartment. As she got to the door and turned to say goodbye one last time she saw him looking at his hands in bewilderment, almost as if he too could see the violin that she had imagined there....looking at the bow and strings and wondering how his song could have failed him.
As she walked out on to the street she heard the traffic rushing by, people leaving bars and restaurants calling their goodnights to each other, the high trill of a woman's laugh...and in the distance she heard the slow sexy sounds of a saxophone drifting through the night...and she slowly swayed to the sound of the music...