"Please... I'm begging you. Don't leave me... not like this... not after everything we've..."
She tried to turn her head away from me but couldn't break eye-contact. I've always been able to do that to Susan, even from day one.
"I can change... I promise... just give me one more chance..." I sidled round to position myself directly in front of her.
Her eyes were misting over; that could be a good sign... or maybe not.
"Look. Susan. If I did something wrong, please... just tell me what it was." She reached up the sleeve of her jersey and pulled out what might once have been a tissue.
I felt a lump catching in my throat, like a pill I could neither swallow nor cough up; I didn't know if it would kill me or cure me.
"Think of all the good times we had together. Everything I've done for you..." I tried to look happy, bring back the sunshine, but that performance hurt me more than I could show.
Susan blew her nose, tucked the sodden tissue away and shimmied her head then lifted her chin. She always did that to look like she was bravely fighting and conquering emotions. This was the tipping point... critical. It could go one of two ways. She used the heel of her hand to drag the tears off her cheek.
"Please, for all the love we've had for each other... take me back. We can make it work..."
"I'm so sorry, Duncan. I just can't..." She drew her hand round the back of my head, through my hair, and grazed my cheek. I turned and leaned in so I could touch my nose to her fingers, smell the sweet comfort of her skin once more. Nivea hand-lotion, a linger of yesterday's Coco Chanel, the leather of her winter gloves; it tugged my memory painfully back to our last walk together. Something had been on her mind, something hurtful, difficult to voice. I guess I know now what it was.
"Please..." I was really whining now.
"Duncan... please try to…” She sniffed. “Listen... I still love you, I just can't manage this anymore... and I'm moving away. It just wouldn't work."
"Away? Where? Why didn't you tell me before?" It came out as a whimper.
She stared deep into my eyes, then closed hers and shook her head.
Susan turned to the door. A pair of stiff shoes were measuring their way up the corridor.
"Have you had long enough? Should I come back in a few minutes?" A male voice; not one I recognised.
"Who the hell is that?" I snarled.
"No, it's OK. I need to get this over with." Susan turned to the interloper. "Look at him... it's as though he understands every word I'm saying..."
"I do understand! I do... well... I don't... I don't understand what's happening... but..." I tailed off. This wasn't going to do me any good.
Susan shuffled out without looking back. Her head was down. I could see her shoulders heaving. At least there was some remorse there; cold comfort in my despair.
The man reached behind her to pull the door closed.
"I know this is hard, but it'll be OK. It's for the best. He's house-trained... Spaniels are always re-homed pretty quickly... they're a popular breed. Come on... lingering just makes it harder. I just need you to sign the release forms, and we'll look after him. I promise."
Susan's sobs and his voice faded away together down the hallway. “He’ll go to a good home… he’s got a whole new life ahead of him…”