It was a thank you card.
He came again last night.
Sodden and drenched from the storm, he stood in the doorway with that all too familiar despairing, hopeless look on his face. She’s told him countless times to at least call before showing up. He never did. She let him in anyway. He was like a lost puppy that no one wanted, and she supposed that was true in more ways than one, watching him sleep on her couch for what must have been the fourteenth night in a row.
She sipped her coffee, thinking. He was a good man, by all means. Maybe a little too kind at times, but nobody’s perfect. She’d known him for years. She knew all his little quirks and mannerisms: how he always toasted bread on a pan instead of with a toaster, how he liked his coffee (he didn’t), how he’d come to see her whenever he was upset about something. But now he was coming over far too often for her liking - always in the middle of the night, always with that same look on his face, always using her shower and sleeping on her couch. She didn’t really mind the last two, but there was something about his expression that set her off. The way he looked at her whenever she opened the door, the way he smiled that wan smile and looked as if he was about to collapse. Something about that look made her feel irritated, almost angry even, and she didn’t know why. She had to put an end to it.
The clock hanging on the wall by the door ticked steadily on, its hands pointing to 2.15 am. She stretched her arms over her head and yawned, suddenly tired. She was going to have to leave early tomorrow, there was a presentation she had to make at a meeting, and she doubted he was going to wake up early. She sighed. She would have preferred to talk to him face to face, but she had no other option. She looked again at the note she was writing, and read it several times to assure herself it was worded kindly but as firmly as she could have worded it. Satisfied, she quietly set the note on the coffee table by the couch, turned off the light, and went to her bedroom.
She didn’t hear him get up from the couch.
She didn’t hear him open the door.
She didn’t hear him leave.
She never saw him again.
She woke up that morning, went through her daily routines accompanied by the droning of the morning news, and was halfway through her cup of coffee before she noticed the empty couch. It took her a few moments still to notice that the note was gone, and something else had taken its place. Something small and adorned with his neat writing. Something short and straight to the point and made her eyes fill with tears and her heart with regret.
It was a thank you card.
And he promised she would never see him again.