He’d always loved spring.
It was a beautiful time of year; save the seasonal allergies that plagued him for the first few weeks after spring arrived, there was nothing about the season that he didn't look forward to. The flowers were blooming, the days were getting longer, and the world was coming to life again in a way that made him think of the rebirth of a dead planet.
New beginnings. That's what spring inspired. As he looked around his flat, he nodded to himself. Spring was a good time to start fresh.
It had been two months since she’d packed up her things; two months since she’d decided that she didn't love what they had enough to fight for it. Two months, and he was still finding bits of her strewn around the place that the two of them had called home for so long. And though London was her actual home, being there as an alien of sorts was always a more appealing thought when he considered how much better it was with her there.
Now she was gone, and he wondered why he stayed.
Perhaps there was some part of him that thought she might return. “It isn't that I don't love you anymore, John,” she’d asserted, when he'd asked if there was something he'd done to make her love him less. “But you and I are at different stages in our lives. It isn't fair for me to ask you to wait, and it isn't fair for you to ask me to skip this part of my life to settle down.”
She was right, of course - she always was.
That didn't make it any less painful.
New beginnings, he thought again, his mind taking him back to his childhood. His mother would always tell him that spring was a good time to clean. “The seasons are starting off with a clean slate,” she’d laugh. “Why shouldn't we follow suit?” Maggie Mayer had been referring to housecleaning, in an attempt to get her middle son to see the value of a clean room. But he thought the principle could work to suit his purposes, even as an adult.
He hunted around for a bit, gathering things in a small hamper that Julie had left behind. Every item of clothing, every book, every box of that godforsaken tea that she was so fond of drinking - he threw it all in the hamper. Every reminder of what they’d shared together, what might have been, what probably never would… There wasn't any need to hold on to it any longer; they were remnants of a past life that had slipped through his fingers and fallen to the ground, shattered along with his dreams of a permanent future with the woman he loved. He collected those remnants, with a grim sort of determination that made him feel anything but lighthearted.
But if there was one thing he’d learned from his mother’s insistence on her yearly spring cleaning, it was this: cleaning up old things was a way of making room for new ones. Maybe there wouldn't be a new Julie for a long time to come. After all, his heart was still sore and tender from where she’d bruised it. It was likely to be a while before he’d be willing to open it up again. But there was a catharsis in collecting the bits of her that reminded him of his time with her, a satisfying feeling of knowing that he’d begun that journey that would help him to heal, that emotional spring cleaning that would put his heart on the road to recovery.
Spring was a time for new beginnings, and he was finally ready to make his.