It happens just like that, effortlessly. You simply hold hands on a quiet night’s drive and he parks the car because he wants to look into your eyes too. You get out of the car and lean closer, still holding hands but too afraid to go farther. He asks if you’d like to walk and you hear yourself say ‘yes’ even before you’ve thought the word. You walk so much your legs hurt until you realize you’ve got to walk the whole distance back. You fall into a tender embrace as you roll over in laughter when he tells you he could carry you all the way back. You feel that sudden burst of butterflies in the pit of your stomach- the kind you’d only heard or read about and you throw away caution and find yourself smiling, just like that.
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That smile remains, long after he’s dropped you home. You wear it to sleep and wake up with it, still glued to your lips. Your brain still feels filled with fuzzy dreams of what would have happened if the night stretched longer and you feel so light-headed that you could swear you’d need him to carry you to work too. You smile even more at the thought and get dressed for work.
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His text finds you on your way out the door and your smile turns into a little bubbly laughter. You text him back, wondering if four smileys are too much or too less. The cliché of it all is too much and yet, you are FEELING every bit of it and you think maybe this is exactly why clichés are clichés.
Slowly, your guard dissolves as your mornings begin with each other and your nights melt into each other. You share your days and nights with each other and find inspired solutions to each other’s problems in the intoxicated-blips of love. You go out on dinner dates and party late on Saturday, returning home so drunk that you make out like giggly teenagers. Then, one Sunday as you are slowly falling asleep, five minutes into a noir movie on the couch, he makes fun of you and then, slips the three magical words in. ‘I love you,’ he says and your sleep sinks into your smile. You smile sheepishly and tell him the obvious and you make sweet love, soon after.
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With every passing day, you forget what life was before him and build the rest of your life around him, in your head. You laugh together on jokes that nobody finds funny and enjoy the silences that fill out the space between you as he plays video games on his console and you type away another piece of your heart. He gives you foot rubs after a wonky work day and you listen to his work stories for the 243rd time, joining in during the times he swears at his as*hole boss.
He lets you cry on his shoulder without shooting a volley of questions and you become his home, when he is afraid or sick of the big, bad world. You learn to accept each other without the rituals and just like that, your love feels like it’s meant to be, forever.
But then, one fine day, you slip into an abyss of loneliness. You feel alone even as he is sitting right beside you, refusing to look up from his screen to look at your smile or wipe away your tears. These moments multiply. You find him smiling with reserve and you notice your own smiles disappearing as quickly. Your comfortable silences grow heavy with the weight of things unsaid, and you start to question if everything’s okay.
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You try and convince yourself that you are over thinking but the changes prove otherwise. The forced smiles, the shallow hugs, the hollow kisses and the empty professions of love- you see he is unhappy- you see it in the eyes you can read well. You see that he knows it too. You argue about petty things, because none of you has the courage (yet) to talk about the real issue. You cry yourself to sleep because your pillow is the only one you can bare your heart to. He sleeps on his side of the bed, inching farther away so that a world remains between you. You find yourself working longer hours just so you don’t have to return home early and he drowns himself in friends and booze for the same reason.
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You find your love bleeding, oozing out like pus from a wound that has been festering far too long. Getting through this doesn’t happen just like that. It takes all the effort in your being.
You feel the ‘I love you-s’ hanging in mid-air, unable to believe in them. And you feel his reassuring embraces drained of truth, feeling stifled in them. You pull away.
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And just like that, it ends. He tells you he didn’t see this ending like this, and you cry so much, you can feel your chest tighten and crack because you are about to live the last moment of what used to be. You cling hard to the moment, filling your being with every bit of him- because you are unsure where it all went wrong. Eventually, he leaves and you hear his footsteps, growing fainter as he reaches the door. You hear the final click of the doorknob and you know it’s over. You clutch your pillow, pulling it close to your broken heart, crying yourself to sleep on your side of the bed- because it’s a habit you picked just like that, effortlessly.
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