“Hey babe, I have to tell you a small thing.” Cora said.
The sun had set a couple of hours ago. The only things that gave the living room some light were Cora’s pink led lights and the TV.
“Sure, go ahead”, I answered and sat up straight on the couch.
“You know the party I went to with my friends last weekend?”
“Well I was talking to this guy, just talking!” She took a deep breath. “And then he leaned in and kissed me. I pushed him away immediately!”
I was quiet for a while. Then I asked:
“Were you being flirty?”
“No!” She looked offended. “Why would you think that?”
“Sorry… It’s just a bit weird that someone would kiss you out of nowhere.” I shrugged slightly.
“It really feels like you’re blaming me.” Her tone was serious with a hint of anger. “I just wanted to get it off my chest, and you’re making such a big deal out of it!”
I did not like her attitude. I had barely said anything and now she thinks I’m being dramatic?
“Are you sure that’s why you’re telling me about it? Just to clear your conscience?”
She stood up.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
I wasn’t really angry about the accidental kiss. What logical person would be? But the thing was, this conversation brought up small things from the past few months that had until now been stored in the unconscious part of my brain.
“It almost, just almost, feels like you’re bragging about it.” I stood up too as I said this.
Her face started to redden.
“That is ridiculous!”
“You don’t think I’ve noticed you looking at a bunch of other guys when we’re out?”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“So you’re not denying it?”
It was silent for a few seconds. I have no idea how this escalated so quickly.
“Maybe I have been comparing what’s out there and what I’ve settled for.” She said.
“Settled?!” That was a hard blow from her.
“Yeah. This whole thing goes to show that I can get a guy without even trying! What’s the last time a girl has made a move on you?”
“I haven’t flirted with anyone because I have a girlfriend!” I yelled, emphasizing almost every word.
“Yeah, sure.” She said and rolled her eyes.
I had no more words. All the words in me had been sucked out somehow. This was utterly ridiculous.
She kept talking:
“Just because we’ve been together for 2 years doesn’t mean that you can let yourself go completely.”
Let myself go? I guess I’m not as in shape as I was in college when I played soccer, but that was just too thick.
“Go find yourself someone ‘in your league’ then!” I yelled and walked towards the door. The second before I slammed the door, I caught a glimpse of her face in the pink light. It was impossible to read. It wasn’t blank confusion or shock, it wasn’t blank anger or sadness, it was just blank. Maybe she was satisfied. Maybe she was regretful. I had absolutely no idea.
I knew this was a stupid idea. I really did. But I decided to do it anyway.
I entered the elevator and pressed the button to take me to the fourth floor. That was where Sophie lived. Almost as soon as the elevator started to move, it came to a halt. And then it was dark. Well fuck.
I was just so angry. She made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. What was the point of me being with her if she didn’t want to be with me? Was this really it?
Last summer, in the middle of July, it was our one year anniversary. I had planned a picnic. Not just any picnic, the most beautiful picnic I could imagine. We drove an hour away from the city, to a lavender field. I had bought all her favourite desserts, her favourite champagne and I gave her a bouquet of red roses. I had even let her pick out a new sundress for the occasion. She loved it. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember that I was happy.
Our second anniversary, a few months ago, we were both really “busy”. We went out to dinner two weeks later. It was nice, but the sparks had dulled. We talked about work, and vaguely discussed maybe having a weekend getaway soon, but it never happened.
Don’t get me wrong, not all our relationship since the first anniversary has been misery. There have been good times, but you know. The only excuse I can come up with is that life has got in the way. But that hardly counts as an excuse.
During the whole fight, I was so caught up in my own feelings, that I barely had space in my brain to consider hers. I only thought about how she seemed to have less interest in me lately, and didn’t wonder why. I felt like she thought I wasn’t good enough, but what if I didn’t make her feel good enough?
The light came back on and shortly after the elevator kept on moving upwards. I stood up. I hadn’t even noticed when I sat down. I pressed the button to the first floor, but the elevator was still going to go to the fourth floor first. As the doors opened, I was caught by surprise.
“Daniel! What are you doing here?”
“I-” I started, but then paused. “Me and Cora had a fight.”
She stared at me.
“Why did you come here? To talk it out? We aren’t that close friends Daniel... “
“No, I know, that’s not why… But I regretted it on the elevator!”
She stared at me again. I think she knew, but was trying to decide if she was right.
“Daniel”, she started, “I’m not super close with Cora either, but I don’t think this is healthy.”
“No, I just have to work everything out with her! I have to show her that I care! Please don’t tell her, I’ll come clean! And… hope she’ll give me another chance.”
The elevator door closed.
I knocked on the door. A man opened.
I checked the number on the door. Yes, this was Cora’s apartment. The first emotion that flashed through me was disbelief. Cora, wearing a short black dress, came running from behind the man.
“Trevor, why would you open the door?” But Trevor had no time to answer. “Daniel! I did not think you would come back tonight!”
I still couldn't for the life of me figure out her emotions. What she said sounded like a plain observation. But her face wasn’t blank anymore, more like such a chaotic mix of feelings, that you couldn’t distinguish any of them. Like when you mix random colors, you get brown.
“Yeah, me neither.”
It was silent for probably 10 seconds, but it felt like several minutes. The silence was broken by Trevor.
“Aight, I’m going to leave you two to it”, he said and went back inside.
Both me and Cora opened our mouths at the same time. I then closed mine, so she began:
“I’m sorry it had to end like this.”
“Had to? I don’t think that’s how it works, that’s not how anything works!”
“We had both been unhappy for a long time!” She defended herself.
“Then break up with me!” I yelled back.
I didn’t really have anything more to say. I could now see some relief in her face. Not a triumphant relief, just a relief that this was finally over with. That we could both move on with our lives without the weight of a relationship that didn’t really have love anymore. So I turned around.
To begin a relationship, you need love. But as time goes on, that love starts to fade. To keep it there, you have to work for it. But if you don’t, and the relationship runs out of love, then it’s too late to save it. Maybe not impossible, but sometimes it might be better to just walk away.
I entered the elevator and pressed the button to the first floor. It moved downwards a floor and a half, and then stopped. The lights flickered a bit before dying completely. What was going on with elevators today?