115

by Violet

He can’t recall when she stopped being beautiful to him. It seemed to have happened naturally, like breathing, so effortless that he didn’t notice the exact moment. One morning he woke up and she was there, and an ugly thought occurred to him that it might be better if she wasn’t. He detested the co-dependency, though he admitted begrudgingly that she’d healed his loneliness, he’d outgrown the infatuation, and assumed she would eventually feel the same.

He was no longer enchanted by the sight of her, a diamond in the rough that he hadn’t the time to polish. He was growing old but she made him feel older than he cared for. She dreamed of growing old together while he fantasised about endless youth and wasted mornings with promises to never drink so heavily again. She stayed by his side while he slurred his words and apologised repeatedly for his sorry state. She was so in love at the time she mistook his selfishness as being charming.

Looking back, it was the sight of her cooking dinner and pouring two glasses of wine that first troubled him. It might appear unreasonable to you for him to be so frightened by her newly discovered domesticity, but he knew he wasn’t ready. He missed the excitement of someone new, not even someone better, just different. He understood the value of youth enough to live in the moment. But in his frantic efforts to not waste any time in tasting as may as he could, he never considered the sacrifice. The broken hearts, the tearful goodbyes, the ruined lives, he wasn’t around to witness any of that. All he knew was that the familiarity of her, the casual grace, the way she looked at him made him nauseous, like she was writing the ending to his story. He couldn’t promise the sort of devotion she craved, but he was a coward, so he let her fall deeper while he carefully designed his escape.

When she discovered the extent of his indulgence he expected her to say it was over with all the poise and dignity she had exhibited in the past. She told him a long time ago how much she hated apologies, so he only asked how to make it better but she said nothing. She was lost in her grief, and helpless for wanting him despite his mistakes. Every bad decision gave her another reason to stay, to mend the bridges he had burned out of carelessness. Through all his calculated considerations he had forgotten one thing: there is only a fine line between love and hate.

Blaming her self destructive ways was easier than seeing the hurt he created, and the tone of his condemnation was so convincing she almost believed it too. He thought it was for the best, they were so perfect together they knew exactly how to destroy each other, so it was safer to be away. But when the excitement wears off and he wakes up one day to accidentally call the wrong woman by her name, he’ll know what she meant.

Love was the enemy; love was the mistake.