As they walked away from the library where they’d first met, in the same moment, but not really together, he turned to look at her one last time. In the half-light, she looked like the shadow she’d become. Only she wasn’t. He knew better. She was the love of his life. She was his wife, the woman he’d vowed to be with, until death parted them. And yet…
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He wanted to reach out to her, to lock her in a bone-crushing embrace, to kiss her until their faces ached. But he knew she wouldn’t hold him tight, he knew she wouldn’t lean into him the way she had so many times before. So, he simply said her name. In a soft, almost tender whisper. She paused for a moment, looked at him with tear-filled eyes and pulled away. That was it. Eight years after their marriage, they parted without fanfare, without ceremony. Without a goodbye.
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This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. This couldn’t be their happily ever after. This couldn’t be the end.
He didn’t cry. But he felt dead. Like life had snapped out of him just as surely as a dagger stops a beating heart. The moment she left was his dagger. It killed him.
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He dragged his lifeless form home. HOME.
A place where she used to be. A place she left. A place she’d left, long before ‘today’ happened. A place she’d left, even though she continued to stay there. A place that had seen no fights, no screaming, no drama- only love.
Love- lived and then, lost.
How it had come to be, he could not own. He’d left long before she’d left. He could hear her muffled sobs late in the night, for days after she miscarried their baby. He could sense her pain, and yet, he didn’t know what to do or say. He’d chosen to drown himself in work, in his friends, in other women. He thought time and space would help her heal. But the more time he took away from her, the closer they inched to today. The more space he gave her, farther away she went.
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It was his fault. He could see it clearly. He’d birthed a love so deep he knew he’d move mountains for it to last forever. Yet, in his claim, he’d forgotten to just do the thing. He’d planted the seeds of love in his heart but failed to give them the nurturing they required to survive. In his capacity to believe that all he had to do was love with all his heart, he’d forgotten to do the loving. And that’s what the notarized divorce decree in his hand proved- he had believed in the magic of love so much so that he forgot to flick the wand and do the trick.
It was all his fault. Of course, she’d choose to leave. She was tired. Tired of waiting. Waiting for him to take the helm, to fight the storm, to steer their relation-ship to calmer seas. But there he was, his soul bound to sunny morns in other climes, leaving her to fight the rough weather alone. Even when she was too weak for it.
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And fight she did. She braved the storms for as long as she could, hoping against hope that he’d come to realize everything he was NOW realizing. A little too late.
A little too late for noticing the curtain’s crinkle where she last touched them, a little too late for seeing the pillow crumpled from nights of her restless twisting and turning, a little too late for watching their bedroom crave her touch as much as him, a little too late to miss the echo of her laughter in these halls, a little too late to feel the burden of her love she had left behind in these walls, crumbling around him. A love that was true, A love he betrayed.
A little too late to realize a happily ever after isn’t given, it is earned.
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