She tucked her hair behind her ear, her vacant stare settling on the floor as he paced the room.
"I - I just don't understand," he repeated, a noticeable quake entwining the phrase.
The cigarette between her long fingers burned orange, ashes flitting through the air as she waved her right hand. He stopped pacing and faced her, though she still refused to meet his gaze.
Smoke whooshed from her lungs, passing her lips and creating an audible sigh. She flicked more ash to the ground.
She grabbed the bag beside her - pausing to admire the purple patent leather that encased it before opening it. She rummaged through its contents: old receipts, make-up, a pen that had long run out of ink, a crushed granola bar. She reached her left hand deeply into the bag, feeling for the thin outline of the tiny object she was searching for.
Finally, she felt the smooth metal and pointed edge of the ring, buried deep in the corner of her purse. She pinched it, grasping it between her fingers, but did not remove it from its resting place. She looked up at him. His eyes were sad, brimmed with wetness.
"Cat, I can't do this. If you're leaving, you have to tell me why. You have to give me a reason."
Cat scoffed and raised single eyebrow, creating lines in her forehead.
"Do you believe in destiny, Nate?" she asked, twirling what was left of her cigarette between her thumb and forefinger.
"Of course I do. That's why this doesn't make sense. YOU are my destiny and YOU are throwing it away," he replied, a note of desperation in his voice. Cat narrowed her eyes.
"I'm no one's fucking destiny," she clarified, then added, "And I think people who believe in destiny are losers. Destiny is just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen.. instead of making them happen."
Nate's expression evolved instantly. What Cat once read as sadness she now recognized immediately as pain. Her left hand remained unmoved, still shoved into the cavernous mess that was her bag.
"That's not true," he defended. "I'm not a loser. You're a bitch. A fucking bitch. And I'm tired of you treating me like shit. All I have ever wanted is to marry you - spend my life with you. And you're fucking insane half the time! Like, and you know I love you, but you - you have these days where you're so goddamn mean. I just can't take it. You really are a fucking bitch."
Cat laughed, not bothering to try to stifle it. She dropped the cigarette butt on the kitchen floor and crushed it into the tile with the toe of her boot. Finally she stood, pulling the ring from deep within her purse as she got to her feet. She stepped forward, pausing about three feet in front of Nate. The corners of her mouth upturned in what became a venomous smile.
"Well, then," she spoke, a cool, smoky edge enveloping her words. She lifted the ring to face level and offered it to him, "I guess you won't mind if I leave."
"What are you doing, Cat?" Nate pleaded frantically.
"Take the ring, Nate."
"No. Cat, don't do this."
"Take the ring, Nate."
"NO. Where are you going?"
Cat inhaled, preparing to argue, to defend herself. She squared her chest and searched Nate's sad, panicked face. He would never understand.
"To make my own fucking destiny," she finally answered, spinning on her heel to leave.
"Cat. Cat! Don't go!" Nate called helplessly after her, begging, "I'm sorry! I love you!"
The ring made a gentle clang as it hit the floor.