My shitty boyfriend was just the messenger
It was the look in his eyes when they finally met mine that scared me the most. The look made it real. Not the unthinkable things he was saying or the fact that his stuff was already packed and gone by the time I got home. His eyes, which had swum with warmth whenever they looked at me since the moment we met, had turned ice cold without so much as a shred of hope left swimming in them.
He stood there and I couldn’t help but think how strange his arms looked, hanging limply at his sides. It occurred to me how rare it was for me to see them and not feel them wrapped around me; touching, holding, forging a constant physical connection whenever possible to reinforce the unseen, underground wires forever connecting us to one another. But, in this moment, his arms looked alien. Like they didn’t know what to do with themselves.
We met while volunteering on a mutual friend’s film project during college. In the chaos that inevitably accompanies any movie shoot, someone’s dog was accidentally let out of the house where we were shooting and it took off down the street, heading straight for traffic. I instinctively gave chase and, moments later, I was joined and then overtaken by someone much faster. Together we corralled and caught the floofy fugitive and returned him to safety, breathlessly introducing ourselves to each other on the walk back.
Seven years, three cities, five apartments, four pets of our own, and countless arguments later, here we were.
I understand that you are on vacation, but this can’t wait any longer…
I didn’t get much further than that before my eyes were swimming. My heart tripped and fell out of step before seeming to stop beating altogether. I felt an invisible arrow pierce my esophagus, a searingly sharp pain. Things fell out of focus and I struggled to stay conscious, to stay afloat, internally drowning in my own blood and tears and confusion.
After seven years of passionate, infatuated, inseparable love, my counterpart — my everything — was abandoning me. And our pets. Our dreams, our entire life. While I was out of town. On a family vacation. Via email.