It started out both of them dancing in a hazy dream of romance. He brought her flowers and she brought him kisses. He bought her little trinkets to show her he was thinking about her and her melting heart was her gift to show him she appreciated him. If the story ended here, it would be a typical tale of “happily ever after.” But while most stories end with the last page, this one proceeded past the back cover.

Soon when he came to visit she stopped running to the door lapping up his love like an excited puppy; instead she shouted “Hi!” from her computer chair, because there was always some project needing her attention and his hugs and kisses could wait. Eventually even the distant chair greeting turned silent. He would kid himself that she didn’t hear him enter but he knew she did.

Unanswered phone calls and text messages were explained with how busy she was, busy picking up this, planning that, hanging out with them. And so he asked his buddy to join him to the strange show he knew she’d love because the callback about the surprise he had for her was never returned.

She told him stories of guys who would chat her up and give her their emails and numbers and wondered why omitted from her talks with them was the fact that she had a boyfriend…or why she accepted these invitations, even if they were only on paper. He had no thoughts of straying and had trusted that she wouldn’t either. But now a part of him wondered if the situation presented itself, and her inhibitions were low from drink or drug or promises of fancy dinners and provisions, if she would cross the line in the sand that was unforgivable, where return to him was impossible.

And soon he noticed a change in himself. Now he didn’t have her as the last and first thing on his mind when he went to bed and woke up. Instead his focus was on how tired he was or what he had to do that day. When he saw something he knew she would like, the thought of picking it up for her was fleeting, leaving before it had time to take off its shoes and sit down for a cup of tea. And finally her face, like an ancient picture weathered by time, started to fade in his head from color to sepia, and soon it was only with great difficulty that he could conjure it up at all. It was as if with the passage of time apart he forgot what she looked like and found himself pulling up pictures of her on his computer like a man slipping into dementia and gripping fiercely at the last threads of his history.

And soon his text messages and calls started to feel obligatory, like a man calling in to check on his elderly father with which he never really had any type of relationship and hoping he will just die so that he could finally be done with him forever. His reach outs became less frequent and finally when an attractive girl asked him what he was doing that night, he almost forgot that he had a girlfriend to which he had an obligation but no longer a devotion. He wondered how many other pretty girls had made advances that he didn’t see, formerly blinded by his love for his girl, now that the blindfold had slipped from his eyes.

And so he shared her company that night at a movie and afterwards they went to a coffee shop where they discussed with passion and laughter the movie, politics and life. With a hug he bid her farewell and went home to an empty bed, despite her invitation to provide company for his sleeping quarters.

That night he sat on the edge of his bed with his head in his hands and wept fully. And though it was painful, it felt good to feel something strong again towards the girl he had loved who always had priorities that got between a man just wanting to hold a woman. He had started to worry that when she neglected the heart he gave to her that he would be stuck seeing the world only in shades of gray; with his tears, the color started to return.

Like a life review, scenes of their courtship, trials and tribulations, laughter and tears flooded into his head and released from his eyes. It was over. And now it was time to go to sleep, a mini death of sorts, and wake up to a new day, a new life…a new beginning.

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