They both sat on the couch smoking cigarettes.
She was reading a book.
He whistled a tune while he opened and shut his snakeskin lighter with a snap repeatedly to the beat of his song.
They both took a long drag of their cigarettes, she exhaling a few seconds before he did.
He turned to face her and watched her as she read. She was engrossed in her book– in her own little world. His eyes followed her dark full lips– slightly parted– down to her chest that rose and fell with her deep breaths.
Every once in a while she would breathe heavily as she moved her foot or turned a page– something to make herself more comfortable.
He looked back on their relationship and counted the days since the end. And then he counted some more– the last time he told her he loved her; the last time they fucked… really really fucked; their first date. The day they met.
She was so young when he first saw her. Innocent and sweet. Her eyes were like a child’s then– big and curious. They were full of experience now. Even her voice had changed since those days. It was soft and sweet when they first met. She smiled a lot more too. Now her voice was always low and breathy and she usually looked and felt, he was certain, placid. Almost indifferent.
He remembered the end. The crying and shouting and broken glass. The harsh words that stung more than the piece of a broken picture frame that cut his hand.
“I have wasted too much of my life with you.”
“Well I stopped loving you over two fucking months ago.”
“Is that so? Well, I never loved you!”
He believed her change was his doing. His fault. His cynicism. His constant smartass remarks. He didn’t give her what she needed- he only gave her what he wanted to give. And she accepted it all because she was young and thought that was what love was. She was just too nice to ever leave him.
She made the mistake of settling for being with someone who didn’t love her the way she deserved.
He was lucky enough to be the one she settled for.
Of course, he didn’t realise it then.
Another drag. A clearing of his throat as he stifled a sob.
A turn of the page.
Another soft sigh and a quick stretch.
She pressed her lips together and inhaled the cigarette smoke and slowly parted her lips to allow the cloud escape from her mouth.
He licked his lips.
“Why did we break up again?”
She didn’t answer. He stared at the door. “I mean, I remember the fight but I can’t for the life of me remember what started it.”
His eyes narrowed as he tried to force his brain to remember.
“I’ve kinda been thinking about it more and more these days. Us, I mean.”
A moment of silence.
“I’m starting to realise that it was all my fault. That’s kinda surprising in itself isn’t it? To realise that the break up was only the fault of one party. Because you know that most break ups are usually the culmination of accumulated failings on both sides.”
A quick drag. His words were quiet; almost a whisper.
“But looking back on it all, I do really realise that it was all me. I wasn’t there enough. Emotionally, I mean. I was always around but where was I? I can’t even remember so much of it…”
He chuckled sadly. He wanted to get it all out so that she wouldn’t be able to interrupt him.
“… and you were always there. I remember everything about you. I remember how you used to wake up every morning and shower and then come back into the bedroom and sit in front of your vanity and put exactly five pins in your hair. Every day. For almost two and a half months. But then your hair started to get too long and you had to use seven.”
He frowned then and still didn’t look at her for fear of being met with cold eyes.
“I found about 30 pins all over my house when you left.”
He caught his breath before a quivering voice could show itself and rushed onward.
“Look, I don’t know what made me start thinking about all this again but I realise now that I was a complete asshole. Maybe we both weren’t ready to be with eachother, you know? Maybe we needed other people but needed to stay at close proximity so we’d find each other later. I didn’t realise back then but I know now. I know that I -”
He cleared his throat and spoke with his normal voice.
“I made a mistake and that I never stopped. I never stopped feeling for you. I mean, I never stopped loving you.”
He closed his eyes for a moment and worked up the courage to look at her.
His head turned.
Her eyes were still glued to her book.
Another moment of silent as he stared at her.
She felt his eyes on her and turned to him.
He blinked, waiting for a response.
His heart hurtled down over a cliff and crashed into the waves and rocks.
She laughed apologetically. “I’m sorry. It’s just such a good book. I’m almost finished though. Two more chapters to go.”
She smiled at him for permission.
He forced a smile and nodded.
“It’s ok. It doesn’t matter.”