Choosing Self

For a moment, I could almost feel sorry for him as he sat across from me, with down cast eyes, he fingered the rim of his coffee mug. The diner  around us was crowded, hot, loud; the clinking of silverware surrounded us. The laughter of the other guests could have drowned me with its irony. I was sad to make this choice, I was sad my love couldn’t be enough to save what I’d thought we had.

“I understand you don’t think there’s a future between us…” The moment of pity was gone the second the words left his mouth with all the arrogance his stressing of the word think conveyed. He sat there as though I didn’t know my own mind. He sat there as though I had injured him.

“Oh, no” I replied, “I don’t think you do understand.” I felt the venom drip from the words. How could he sit there acting so wounded? Anger clawed at my chest while years of pain rose behind it to seize my heart.

“For so long I held on to this tortuous longing for you and who I thought you were. I didn’t think I could ever be good enough.” He met my gaze and there was sadness in his eyes, I could also see the lack of kindness creased between his brow. How long had I missed this act of his? My heart skipped to notice the storm swelling in his eyes, it was so obvious now. I was taken aback, but I had to continue now that the words tumbled free.

“For so long I was off balance as I compared myself to the vision of who I thought you needed, and how I could never be worthy of you.” Tears welled in my eyes, and I wasn’t sure from which emotion, but I paused to glance at the white tiled ceiling above me hoping he wouldn’t see the effect he had on me. I couldn’t compose myself and gave in to the multitude of feelings washing over me instead. Damn him, I felt so exposed and humiliated.

I loved him. How could he understand what it felt like to reject him after all this time, even if only for my own sanity.

A sob escaped from my lungs as tears like rivers ran down my face and neck. For a moment, everything was quiet. I had interrupted the joyous calm of each person around me and as repayment they stopped to stare. I could feel it.

I looked back down into fathomless eyes, the same eyes I had known for years. His brow was still furrowed, his lips turned just down at the corners; I was always certain I could read his expressions, but even as my eyes cleared, his expression remained unknowable. His eyes blocked me from his true feelings. He seemed so far away across such a small and endless table.

“I offered you every part of me. My total devotion. You said ‘no.’ You told me you didn’t want me. You can’t just take it back.” The words rushed out in a whisper. He wanted me now, but I couldn’t trust the will of such a fickle man, or the gaze meeting my still wet eyes. “I can’t risk my heart on you again.” I said as I rose to leave, feeling the irony of my already broken heart giving up on loving him.

“I’m sorry.” He said in dead voice as I pushed past his chair on my way to the door. I did not look back as I lifted my hand to brush away a final tear. That would be the last one to fall for him.