He didn’t have to leave. He could have stayed, left his coat draped over the back of the kitchen chair, left his shoes beside the door, left his keys in the blue ceramic dish she had brought home from their first trip to Mexico.

She never asked him to leave. She never asked him to push back her hair and kiss her above the eyebrow, to wipe the tear from her cheek, to breathe in her scent for the last time without saying any of the empty words that stood between them.

But he left. His boot tracks led to tire tracks in three-day-old snow, and the tire tracks led to Someplace Else. That was what he said, when she asked him where he would go. Someplace Else. She lay across the bed under a faded orange afghan and imagined those tire tracks stretching beyond the lines on a map to some empty space that didn’t really exist.

Someplace Else.

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