She didn't go into work that day, didn't even call in sick. In fact, she booked the day off, listened to her co-workers tease her about a day off mid-week, wondering if she had a hot date, some gossip that she was refusing to tell them about. Her silence on the matter, her quiet shake of the head, only served to convince them that she was definitely hiding something and their banter became ever more bawdy and raucous as the date in question approached.
She didn't actually mind - she actually appreciated the distraction.
Not that anything of the kind was going to happen. No, she spent her day off sitting on her couch, watching the clock as the minute hand worked its way around, her heart thudding heavier in her chest with every passing hour, her stomach churning incessantly.
When the hour that she remembered finally appeared on the clock, she closed her eyes and let the tears fall.
Then she waited for the phone to ring.
But it didn't.
Instead, just as the sun faded from the sky and the room began to dim, there was the unmistakable sound of running footsteps in the hall outside and her head whipped around as she recognised the footfall. By the time the key turned in the lock, she was on her feet, her knees wobbling as she struggled to breathe, praying that they would hold her up.
Then he was standing in front of her, the slam of the door echoing between them and he was breathing hard, as hard as the pounding of her heart.
"You're here." His eyes wide, his face ashy, his voice was barely a whisper but she heard it, felt it in every nerve of her body. "You're still here... I was afraid..." His voice trailed off at the sob that tore itself from her throat and he wasted no time crossing the room, pulling her against him. Her arms went around his waist as she buried her head in his chest. One of his arms was around her shoulders, the other cupping the back of her head and he held her tight, like he was afraid she'd disappear at any time, like she was something that he couldn't stand to lose.
She was holding him the same way.
He held her until she stopped sobbing, until she was able to lift her head and look at him through eyes that were still filled with tears. He cupped her face in his hands, used the pads of his thumbs to wipe her tears away, stared down at her and his face was a question.
"This is it?"
She nodded, the weight of the question making her knees weaker still and it felt like she would have fallen were it not for his hands on her cheeks, his gentle touch holding her up, as it had for so many years now.
She wasn't sure what he'd say to that, although she'd imagined this moment so many times.
As it happened though, he didn't say anything. He just pulled her against him again and she went willingly, not sure which of them was trembling more.
"It's going to be ok," he whispered eventually and she closed her eyes and let herself hope that he was right.