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Agony in his Eyes
His hand was warm in mine. Our fingers were intertwining with each other and we were splayed out across the grass which was cold beneath us. Wind whistled through the trees near the edge of the field and leaves danced through the air, silhouetted against the light of the fading day. I supposed some would call it a “perfect moment”, but it really wasn’t. Our hands were beginning to sweat from each others warmth and it was uncomfortably wet and moderately embarrassing… but it would’ve been even more so to let go. I didn’t dress warm enough either; my skin was chilled to the bone and I was barely keeping my body still from shivering. I could’ve asked to cuddle, but that would’ve ruined the silence. A silence only broken by the wind.
I heard him take a shuddering breath beside me.
He was going to ask. And I wasn’t going to know how to answer. And it would all be ruined. And I was scared.
His hand tightened around mine. Sweat made our fingers glide past one another. I finally broke our hold.
He started to talk. I stopped caring.
The stars winked at me through their veil of darkness. I tried picking out constellations but the only two I knew were the little dipper and the big dipper, so I started making my own. There was one that looked like a broken heart and one that looked like a band-aid. I think one of them even looked like me, but it was an ugly, twisted version so I stopped trying to find constellations where there weren’t any.
I heard the dull monotone of his voice in the background of my mind. He was still talking. Hadn’t he given up yet? Couldn’t he see I didn’t want to talk about this? This moment was so perfect and he was ruining it.
I asked him in a rough voice to please stop talking. I sounded like I was holding back tears, though I didn’t know why. I wasn’t.
He stopped speaking though.
I registered bleakly that he was running his hands through my hair and I didn’t like it. I used to love him. I used to love it when he did things like that. It soothed me.
But now all I knew was that this wasn’t working. None of what we had was working. Lying beneath these stars, hearing him talk endlessly about a future we would never have, holding a hand that I would soon let go of, hearing “I love you” and responding in an equally bored tone…this wasn’t love.
This wasn’t what I thought it would turn out to be or what he was trying to make it into.
I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t want to be here beneath the stars listening to him talk and talk with my hand laying useless at my side and my heart lying cold in my chest.
I asked him if he loved me.
He was quiet for a moment before asking me if I ever even doubted that.
I told him I didn’t love him.
I suppose one could say it was cruel or that “I could have let him down nicer” but there’s no nice way to tell someone that everything you’ve said you’ve felt for them is a lie. There’s no nice way to tell someone you no longer love them.
He was quiet for a very long time and his fingers had stilled in my hair. I heard something like a small whine escape him and I wondered if he would cry because I wouldn’t know how to deal with that.
But no tears came. He just sat up and looked down on me with agony in his eyes. He asked me why I never told him before in a choked voice. He asked me why I lied to him.
I told him I thought it was love and I was wrong. I did care, just not enough.
I thought he wouldn’t speak again. He was quiet, silently accepting everything the way he always did when given new information. After he read a book he would sit in the lamplight and stare into a far corner of the room, remembering everything and taking it all in. I knew everything about him. He loved books, loved the way they felt and smelled and looked. No beautiful woman could compare to a good book in his eyes.
I realized that it didn’t matter how much I knew about him; it was all irrelevant now.
When he spoke again I could tell he was crying.
He asked if I wanted to break up.
I said to him that I wouldn’t have told him this if I thought I would’ve been able to fall in love with him. He cried a little harder at that. I wished I could lessen his pain somehow, but I was a blunt, straightforward person and I didn’t know how to do any of that.
I did care about him. I cared about his smiles and his aspirations, his books, his beautiful blue eyes, and the way he got so embarrassed he couldn’t speak sometimes, and the way he laughed like a monkey and breathed loudly in quiet rooms, the way he snored when he was dreaming and the way he stared blankly off when he was daydreaming, the way he couldn’t cook anything but Ramen and Lean Cuisines, and the way he sang slightly off tune to songs he’d heard at least a thousand times. I cared about him. I loved him.
But I wasn’t in love with him.
He stood, brushed himself off and walked away. His retreating back was the last thing I saw. When I got home his stuff was gone and the keys were lying on the kitchen table. It looked like he’d taken everything that was clearly his and all the things that were ambiguous were simply left behind. The closet doors were open, his desk cleared, all of his family pictures absent from the walls. There was nothing left.
I poured myself a glass of white wine and stumbled into our bedroom, my bedroom. I lay on my side of the bed, the left side, and reached my arm across the spot to where he would lay; limbs sprawled everywhere. If I closed my eyes and let my mind wander I could almost imagine that it was morning and we were back to the happy little lie we’d been living. I could imagine birds twittering outside, the sheets still warm where he’d been laying, and while I knew that this relationship was riddled with troubles all I could imagine were the good things. The blissful days of shared laughter
But when I opened my eyes the bed was empty, the sheets cold, and nothing left of him but memories.