It was always hard, because he always knew what she didn’t: he would never be the person she wanted him to be. Some nights he would stay awake watching her sleep and feel amazed to even have her in his life, to have someone who believed he could actually be a good man.
Other nights he would be kept up by the image of her walking out the door because once again, he hadn’t been.
But it was none of those nights that stuck with him.
It was a few years before he went to a shrink, so he never thought about it with much catharsis or clarity. But he thought about it. And every time he did, he relived the same night.
The beginnings passed in a blur—the sex, her probing questions in a search to feel “intimate.” He knew she just wanted the information, he always knew, but he also knew she wouldn’t give up, and if she wanted to call it intimacy, who was he to argue? He hadn’t known much more than she had in that way, after all. When he finally answered the question. Yes he’d been with someone else, yes Veronica, he’d done it, of course he had, why did you expect more? He remembered the longest pause of his life.
"Still love me?" He remembered gearing up for the answer to be no.
"Yes," she’d said, and he’d almost cried when he kissed her, so happy, so real, this was it, they were finally there. He remembered, as they geared up for round two, being sure that it wouldn’t go wrong again.
But more than that he remembered waking up in the middle of the night, not feeling her in his arms like he usually did, thinking she must have gotten up for water or something, turning the light on, rolling over. He could never forget seeing her curled up on the edge of the bed, as far from him as possible, shoulders hunched up like she had an exam the next day, arms wrapped around herself as though trying to keep contained. He left the light on and sat for a moment watching her. And in that moment he knew he’d been wrong. He knew this deeper than his bones, he knew that they were over, that this had been the beginning of the end, and sooner or later there would be another reason, another fight, he would end up alone in this bed, crying.
He remembered the sense of loss resounding in that moment, shaking it off, moving to the other side of the bed to spoon her, because just because it was ending didn’t mean it had ended yet.