Slipping back in


A few months had passed, and I was feeling stronger. Moving past Drew was all about time and distance and, though I still thought about him, it was with less pain and more clarity. We were wrong for each other, I could see that now, and It wasn’t just about poor timing. It was also about fate, the kind of fate that can work against us. We weren’t meant to be. And though my marriage wasn’t perfect, it was still a marriage consummated by vows, and I knew it’s care and feeding was my responsibility. So I was there, trying not to make mountains out of molehills, resolving to not hurt anyone, trying to appreciate all the small things that made my life easy and comfortable. It is what it is, I told myself, finally acknowledging what it meant to lie in the bed I’d made.

So when the chat window opened unexpectedly one day, I wasn’t ready. The message made my heart lift its quiet head. “I’m about to change my relationship status.” Wait, are we still teenagers? I wanted to tease, but the sarcasm quickly faded as I realized he was serious. I waited for another message to follow, imagining his next words, steeling myself to hear them. I would be happy for him because I knew he wanted it, to be married again, to her. He had already designed his life to mirror hers, to be ready for her, even though she had asked him to move out, even though she had gently told him not to expect it. Not to expect her.

I was surprised, and then I wasn’t. He had left a hole in her life she’d discovered she couldn’t fill. Of course. I would be happy for him, and we would be friends now. No more question marks. I would introduce him to Jake some day, and they would genuinely like each other. We might meet for beers some time. I could do this. I could be this person, and he and I would make sense.

But no words came. “Drum roll?” I typed. “Yes,” he typed back. I waited again and then, exasperated, I guessed, wanting to see the words, wanting to feel the sharpness of the moment, wanting the grieving to begin so that I might move through it quickly, get it over with. “You are moving to Hawaii. You and Paula are engaged. What is it?! Honestly Drew, finish a thought.” I knew I sounded cranky, but why would he drop the bomb and not watch it hit the ground? Why open the chat just to provoke me?

“I’m single.” The words sat there, both sad and heavy, honest and suggestive. My heart, a moment earlier tense in fight or flight mode, now constricted fully. The idea that I had finally slipped back under a smooth, silent water, descended, ears flooded and senses dulled, was quickly dispelled. Trust Drew to surface once more, testing the air, looking for company. And trust me to look up and find the surface right there, easily broken, sound and light and texture within reach. Trust me to gasp for air right beside him.

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