I’m sorry. I can’t be with you. I’m in love with someone else.
Those were the words she wanted to say. They were so much better than the truth.
Yet, as she gazed deep into his tranquil eyes, wondering at the undisturbed nature of their clear surfaces unbroken by wind or rain, she found herself unable to deliver the storm.
He waited patiently. She was aware that she had to say something – but not anything. If she said anything, she might accidentally distract from the seriousness of the situation. But if she said nothing, the severity of what she had to say would be diminished anyway, because at any moment he was going to launch into telling her about the mundane happenings of his week, and what new drama had caused his sisters to fight this time, and what cute things his cat had done last night.
She parted her lips to speak. But just as she did so, a slight breeze picked up loose locks of his hair, dusting wisps from his face, and playing gently with his golden curls – and once more she felt her heart weaken.
He didn’t deserve this.
But then, neither did she.
It was now or never, she realised as the corners of his mouth began to curl up in that little half-smile he had always had before talking about something which made him happy. If she didn’t say it now, he would beat her to the verbal finish line.
She started with the easiest two words:
There. She had monopolised his attention and was already half way to getting to the part where she could leave and not have to gaze into his tragically beautiful eyes.
A few heartbeats pounded past. He was staring at her like a dog watching a washing machine in action for the first time. Then she realised that she needed to follow her last words with her next words, before he started asking questions she couldn’t answer.
“I can’t be with you,” she stated robotically.
She could see the whites of his eyes growing in size and the corners of his lips flattening. She couldn’t watch his face complete it’s heartbreaking transformation. She just couldn’t.
“I’m in love with s- I just can’t do this, ” she blurted out, “I’m sorry. Goodbye.”
And then she was haring away, before he could process her babbled excuse, before he could break her heart even more.
Before she found herself taking it back of her own accord.
Before the world could come crashing down.
Once she was at a safe distance, out of sight and certain he wouldn’t find her even if he was looking, she took out her phone. She dialed the number which had called twice while she was with him, and many more times besides in previous weeks. Her call was picked up on the first ring.
“Is it done?”
Her voice didn’t break. She was proud of that.
“Is it over now?” she asked, her whisper of a tone concealing the thundering in her chest.
“You have one more task to do. Then you’re free.”
She forgot how to breathe, for a moment. But she said yes, and ended the call. She took a moment to compose herself. When she started walking again, there was not a hint of a tear in her eye.
She could do this.
She would have to.