#fff is a writing prompt adventure lead by Elisha Bartels. Read more here: urbanfolktales.blogspot.com
“Just like that? You just decide and it’s done?” Michael looked at me in what I could only describe as a “tone of voice” reminiscent of my mother.
Should I be honest?
Michael rarely got angry. That made it worse. His disappointment with me could fill a room to the point of blowing out the windows and doors.
“I just can’t believe you didn’t ask or…” His words trailed off as he turned finally to look at me on the sofa.
I wasn’t moving, only staring at him. I realized I was holding my breath when I let out an unintended sigh.
I am sorry.
“I love you. And I have to do this. It isn’t about you.” Oh, gods, that was the worst possible thing I could have said.
“What do you mean it isn’t about me? My understanding of ‘relationship’ is two people making decisions together. Either that isn’t your working definition of ‘relationship’ or you don’t care what I think.”
“Michael, I do care what you think. Mar came to me. The work requires me to be at the facility in Paris. This isn’t something I can say no to.”
“Hannelore, you act as if I don’t understand all of that. I know you have to do this. What I don’t understand is you marching into my office and flopping on the couch in the middle of the day to announce you are leaving for an indefinite amount of time and think it best we end our relationship to suit your travel plans.”
“I didn’t march or flop and that isn’t what I said.”
“No? Perhaps not, but it is a pretty accurate summary. Did you not think I’d want to discuss this or that perhaps I don’t feel that you taking this assignment is a reason to break apart?”
Yes. Of course I did. And the assignment was the opportunity to do what I have been too afraid to do.
“I love you. And ending our relationship has almost nothing to do with this turn of events.”
He looked more hurt now than disappointed and crossed the room to sit, finally, next to me.
“I love you. I don’t think I have ever given you any reason to doubt that. And I’ve never had any reason to doubt that you love me. I also know that I can never truly be the person you want me to be.”
“How can you…” I stopped him.
“Michael, you know it’s true. I know it isn’t my job to make you happy, but I’d like to not make it my life’s work to make you resent the hell out of me either.”
“What’s that suppose to…” I put up my hand.
“Let me finish. You are happiest, most content, at a point of stillness I can’t even fathom. I sometimes imagine myself the electron to your nucleus. Not in a flattering way. I know there are things I haven’t dealt with and, frankly, I’m not ready to open that particular Pandora’s box. But no magic number of silent meditation retreats is going to make me be able to just ‘be here now’ with you. Whatever I need to do isn’t here. You want more than I can give you right now, maybe ever.”
There was no doubt the expression on his face was hurt. It was clear he didn’t understand and I knew I’d done a terrible job trying to explain.
“I don’t understand, but clearly this is something you’ve thought a lot about.” For the first time, in all the time I had known him, he looked defeated.
“I have, but not in the way I think you mean.” I didn’t even try to explain. If nobody ever understands, you give up trying to explain with words, but this wasn’t something I could paint an explanation of either.