Updated: Jul 27, 2019
"You give too much." he said. It was just a statement. Or so it seemed.
She mulled over it long after he left to return to his home, a family he was rather happy with. He really had no reason to stray.
Dusk turned into twilight and the stars hid behind the lazy smog that had heavily settled over the city. She tried to look for stars. A new moon dimly swung out into hazy visibility and three stars were all the heavens gave her.
He was right. Why should she settle for less when she wanted all of it?
A week passed before the phone rang. His face, that serious self-assured look she saw on him often enough, lit up the phone screen.
She sighed and picked the call.
"How are you? You didn't call?" he asked.
She took in a deep breath, gathering up her life in it. "I know I didn't."
"Why? You forgot me?"
"No. But, I want to." she said. As she spoke she felt a little more courageous.
"Why?" he knew he was not going to like what she had to say but it was inevitable. The ache in her heart stabbed for a few precious seconds but she knew it was what she needed to do.
"You know," she paused, "you were right."
"What about?" he asked. She could hear the rustle of paper and knew he was in the office.
"That I give too much..." she let the words linger, like soft perfume, memories of all the times when she had given too much. "You have indeed given me that gift to accept it."
"So..." he trailed. He knew there was more. She never said anything without reason.
"I'm moving on. I won't be seeing you again. I don't wish to be incomplete. I am done with that. I am beginning to hurt, a lot. If I was in the same city as you, I'd never have this conversation on the phone but I am not sure when I will see you again." the words were now pouring out, quite unable to stop, even as she choked on it and felt herself, once again, rip to pieces.
There was a long silence. She heard him take a deep breath.
"You know you were my best friend,” he said. He sounded just the way he would when he knew he needed to just get a grip on everything and stay brave.
He cut the line.
The tears freely poured and she wondered why she had to go through this. Why did nobody ever want to completely stay?
"I love you so much." she choked on the words in pain. "I am sorry."
He stared at the screen. Taking a deep breath he put it all aside. She was right. He knew she deserved more. He couldn't give it to her, the kind of love and complete togetherness she deserved..."Dammit" he swore. A lone tear found its way down his cheek. " When did you get this emotional?"
He willed himself to reality.
"I love you so much" he whispered. " I am sorry."
A year had gone by. He couldn't stop himself from calling her.
"How are you?" he asked, his voice low, and she could picture the resigned shoulders sag just that little bit.
She stayed silent. Her heart ached and she could feel her soul rip at the seams.
"Why do you want to know?" she asked him instead, stalling.
There was no static but she imagined the flow of blood across the distance, the rush of it, and the silence more ominous as the seconds dragged. The pain was catching up. Her throat was beginning its game of constricted pain. She knew the tears would abruptly erupt, the pain in her eyes just about heating before there was no stopping the deluge.
"Tell me." he insisted.
"Even if it's not what you want to hear?"
He stayed silent.
"I'm still hurting. A lot."
"We talked about this," he whispered.
"Yes." She was crying now. "You don't get to decide for how long this is going to hurt."
"I love you." He sounded contrite, piteous somehow.
"No." She sobbed. "This is not love."
She cut the line. The emptiness of the evening stretched across the sea, broken by the constant crashing of waves.
Another day was over. The relationship was over. It had been; for a long time perhaps.
Love was another thing. It still breathed. Alive as ever.
© Sandhya Suri