She sat, staring into the windows of the house across the street, the seat warmers in the leather chairs heating her bum. His words floated into her consciousness, but she wasn't ready to allow them to stick. Four years she spent trying to make him happy, and, with tears rolling down his stubbled cheeks, now he's decided it's not enough.
She couldn't even cry. The shock froze her system. Vaguely, she felt his gentle hand on her knee, but she continued to gaze at the house. Inside, they were warm, toasty, happy, the husband probably lighting the fire and the wife recounting some funny incident of the day. They had no idea of the relationship tearing apart in the car outside their window.
Finally, the reality of the tears starting to wet her cheeks brought her out of her daze and she turned her focus on the man in the driver's seat. This morning she had a boyfriend and was happily planning their evening together, probably curling up on his couch watching "Happy Days" reruns, and now, this evening, she would go to bed alone, her only comfort the afghan her grandmother made for her. She cried not for him, but for the reality of being alone. Almost 30, loneliness frightened her, though she knew it was silly. Through the haze of tears and his explanations, she wondered how much he actually meant to her.
But then she thought of life without him and began to cry even more. She had loved him, loved their life together, was looking forward to building something even more meaningful. Now it was over. She would no longer smell his citrus cologne, no longer feel his arms around her, no longer laugh at his inane jokes when he was cheering her up after a bad day. They had connected, they could talk about anything; now she felt as though she was losing a good friend along with a boyfriend.
She took his hand off of her knee and returned it to his side of the car. He stopped talking, explaining his reasons, and just looked at her, his face wet and shiny in the glow of the streetlamps. She kissed his cheek, made sure to not slam the door when she left the car, and returned to her apartment.
He couldn't hold her back anymore. He wasn't even sure how he felt. He cared for her, loved being with her; hell, she was his best friend. Can he really let her go? Is he stupid for letting her go? He doesn't deserve such an amazing woman. There are other guys out there, he's sure, that would treat her much better than he ever could.
This decision made, he grabbed his coat and drove down the highway to meet her at her apartment, tears running down his cheeks the entire way. What is wrong with him? Why can't he love her the way she's supposed to be loved? Why can't he feel for her what he knows she feels for him? He's been distant for the past couple of days, he knows she suspects something.
She was so happy on the phone when he suggested meeting for dessert. It broke his heart even more to hear the joy in her voice. He pulled up next to her building and sat for a minute in his car. Taking deep breaths, he tried to calm down, wishing he didn't have to do this. But he wasn't really making her happy. He wasn't happy himself, and on some level understood that if he's not happy, he can't make her happy either. This can't continue, and she needs to be set free.
He heard the door close, and looked out the window to see her walking toward his car. She must have seen him through her window. Seeing her graceful walk and the smile on her face brought the tears back, and once she looked at him after entering the car, her first movement was to hug him across the console and ask after his family to make sure everyone was ok. Man, she was so caring, he hated himself for what he was about to say.
Even knowing it was the right thing to do did not make telling her easier. She immediately let him go and stared out of the windshield as his words bounced off her. Getting over her was going to be the hardest thing he's ever done. But she'll have a better life without him, he knows that for a fact.