a look into relationships (part two)
a reflection in four parts
It's a month after the doctor's appointment, after the child they wanted was lost, after the countless therapy sessions and he's packing his bags. She's packing hers. They're quiet as they get their things ready for the work day, but he knows this day is going to be different. It's not a good feeling. He had suggested that they go on vacation, a one last ditch effort to try to make things work between them. She agrees, but he wonders if her heart is really in it. He wonders if his is.
(He tries not to think of the unused nursery in the room next door as he dresses for the day).
He kisses her cheek as he snaps his suitcase shut and says he'll be home around five that night. She just nods, but doesn't say anything else. She doesn't look at him.
He wants to tell her that he loves her, but he doesn't. Instead he swallows the words and leaves the house, shutting the door behind him.
By the time he comes home to the house they share, all of her things are gone.
And she's gone and not coming back.
This is the biggest regret of his life: letting her leave.
And he will never forgive himself for that.
He doesn't remember how it happens, but it does. And when he wake up the next morning, and sees her next to him, he feels a feeling of regret. Not because he had done anything wrong, he's newly divorced, and she...well she's married to a senator from another state. She wanted a good time, "Show me a good time, Mr. Wallach" and he's never been able to turn a beautiful redhead down. He knows why he sleeps with her. Because she reminds him of his ex-wife that he can't get out of his head. She sleeps with him because her life is boring, she's bored, "I'm oh so bored, Mr. Wallach." She never uses his first name. He doesn't remember hers at all.
One night stands like this go on in random points of his life, scattered through nine years. He eventually tapers off the older he gets, and focuses more of on the company. He needs to prepare it for when he has to pass it down to someone, because he has no heirs. He has no children. He has no wife, no white picket fence, no happiness, no love.
Sometimes, the senator's wife calls him. "Let me come see you, Mr. Wallach," she purrs on the phone, "We can have so much fun, Mr. Wallach."
He deletes her messages every time. (Though, he listens to them twice before he does.)
He tells her that he loves her.
Because he does.
He doesn't understand what this "love" means, but he says it. He doesn't say things he doesn't mean, but he knows that this love is maybe not the love she was expecting. He respects her, he admires her, he loves her as a friend and family should, and when he realized that was the love he meant, it was too late.
No matter what he did now, he would be made out to be the bad guy, even if he knew it would be for the best, for the sake of their friendship. She'd be angry. (He was right.) She'd hate him. (He was right.) She'd try to throw away ten years of friendship, all because he couldn't see a relationship with her, he couldn't be romantic with her, he couldn't give her public displays of affection like she wanted. She wanted a perfect relationship with a perfect man, and he was never that man. He always knew he wasn't good enough for her, but he kept trying to be, trying to fit that mold.
He knows he's not a good person, and the timing is all wrong, but the timing would always be wrong. Eleven years is a big difference in age. It's even bigger when he's dug yourself into a hole that he can't get out of, and he's been trying to fill that hole that was put there ten years ago. It's never fair to her, or to anyone. But he accepts it, because he knows he makes mistakes. This is all he hears: it's not fair, you're a coward, how dare you.
He knows he's already said it a million times; that she can do better, that she should do better, and will do better, but for some reason she never listened. He never figured out why.
So he's the bad guy. He accepts her screaming, her yelling, her name calling, her telling him that he's an alcoholic. Despite taking offense, despite getting angry, he just accepts it. So they can maybe move on.
He misses her sometimes. The friendship, the way they used to be. But things will never be the same, and he knows that. All because he had decided to give into a moment that he should have just let pass.
This is his regret: losing a friend. But he knows people won't see it that way, so he keeps quiet and keeps to himself. It's much better that way, especially if it helps her to move on.
When he gets off the plane the first thing he does is go to her, because it's all he's been thinking about. His mistakes, his missteps, he's had a lot. He knows that. He's not the best man, and he knows that as well. The fact that he has been reminded of this over and over, so he doesn't forget just how horrible he is, he'll never run from that. But he's not looking back. He's not going to let himself look back anymore, because he's spent the last ten years of his life doing that. Looking back at what he has considered to be his biggest failure: walking out on her, leaving her, losing touch with her, all because of something they couldn't control.
The last decade of his life has been about that one moment. That one misstep. He can't let it rule his life anymore.
When she opens the door, he doesn't say anything, and instead he kisses her, and she steps back into the apartment as he follows her, and he kicks the door shut. Because ten years is a long time to still be in love with someone. Because ten years is a long time to have never gotten over someone.
But he's not looking to the past. He's looking to the future. He's looking to be happy, to be healthy, to allow himself what he finally feels he deserves. He's different from when she knew him ten years ago. She's different too. It's a good thing.
So they decide to look to the future, instead of the past, because they've both decided they're not going to live in what they did and didn't do. He'll look forward, because that's what he has to do, to finally feel like he actually is a decent man, despite others telling him otherwise.
He will no longer allow himself to think other people and their happiness is more important than his own. It took him thirty nine years, but he feels like he might finally be on the right track.