It’s Elle’s mantra, sitting in their tiny, cold flat. Broke and hungry. She snaps sometimes. Terry snaps sometimes. Words meted out harsh in compromises. They don’t go out, there’s no money. And the cupboards are filled with non-perishables.
But as stressed as Elle is, lying in bed with Terry on a warm summer morning; she knows she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Her mantra sits in her heart like certainty, like a kernel of divine truth.
But then The War starts and Terry is drafted.
The days slide into weeks and the weeks drag on into months. Elle sits alone, lonely, thinking of him, praying for him. She struggles through day after day with a weight against her chest.
She worries the chain of the necklace he gave her. And kisses her mantra into the pendant. It’s still as true, even if it’s more painful.
Terry comes home different. But Elle knows it’s still her Terry underneath it all.
He has a nightmare and she ends up with a bruised cheek. He’s horrified. She’s horrified. He’s still crying from the nightmare. He’s still crying from the weight of it all.
She doesn’t know what to do. She moves to him. But he pulls away, he doesn’t want to hurt her again, and her heart hurts for him. She watches him sleep, sees his fingers reach out for her, desperate. And she takes them in her own, holds him. She fears she can’t reach him.
The mantra feels shallow now. She knows love can’t fix things, but she still hopes it can hold them together. She thinks love is enough, because it has to be.
They try to save up for therapy, but they don’t have enough.
Terry sleeps on the couch. He’s scared of hurting her. And she’s ashamed that she’s scared too.
And then the flashbacks come during the day. He’s somewhere else, someone else. He grips her wrist too hard, urgent.
The ring around her wrist is purple and he stares at it, eyes hard as flint. Tells her he should leave.
She’s not sure whether she agrees or disagrees. Tells him no anyway.
He moves too quickly. She flinches. Hurt rises through the both of them, frozen in that instant.
There’s therapy and medication. It doesn’t help. He seems to be getting worse.
Elle herself feels hollowed out: with sadness and guilt and this stalwart inadequacy. She doesn’t know what to do.
They're both breaking each other.
She thinks she doesn’t know how long she can do this. She thinks there’s no way she can leave him, not like this. She thinks she still loves him.
Time stretches on and stretches them in turn.
They sit at their small rickety table, crying. Whispering softly into the dead night. They’ve both decided it’s for the best: this is the end.
Love’s always enough. Until it isn’t.