Like we never loved at all
You never looked so good
as you did last night,
underneath the city lights,
there walking with your friend,
laughing at the moon.
I swear you looked right through me.
It got a little harder every day. At first, he’d been able to convince himself that this was a form of self-punishment, an expression of guilt, a blatant refusal to allow herself any happiness since her actions had caused others so much pain–that had been ok at first. But now–as days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, he had to start to consider–was she telling him the truth?
Were the words she said to him, the ones that cut through him like a serrated blade, the real, honest, unvarnished truth–that she didn’t love him, that she’d never loved him, that they had never been real–at least not for her.
He watched her, the way she smiled so easily as she chatted with Michael. The idea of a smile was an alien concept for him. Existing was an exhausting task that he continued only for the sake of his children, and sometimes even the thought of them could provide enough incentive to get out of bed.
How was it possible to miss someone so much? Though they had only been together a few short months, Phyllis had become a part of him–every bit as much as his hands and his feet were. Losing her was like losing apart of himself that was essential to function–to survive.
Yet she seemed to be surviving just fine.
But I’m still living with your goodbye,
and you’re just going on with your life.
How can you just walk on by
without one tear in your eye?
Don’t you have the slightest feelings left for me?
Maybe that’s just your way
of dealing with the pain,
between our rise and fall
like we never loved at all.
The door was closer than her table. It was a far better choice and somewhere Indus liquor-filled body, he knew this. The room spun as he stood, his hand gripping the bar. His steps were slow and deliberate.
“Oh no,” she whispered.
Michael turned, immediately standing in an attempt to assist. “Billy, why don’t I call you a cab?”
Billy nodded. “Whatever makes you happy.” He lowered himself into the vacant chair leaning across the table, close to her. “What about you?” He struggled a bit, having trouble gathering his thoughts. “What makes you happy?”
She couldn’t look at him. Every time she looked into his eyes, she remembered all the other times she’d stared into them, the times she’d been wrapped up in his arms. He made her happy, but she didn’t bring him happiness. She brought nothing into his life but chaos and she loved him too much to do that to him.
“You’re drunk,” she said softly. “You just need to take that cab home and sleep it off.”
“Don’t want to. Don’t want to think about anything–specially you. You sittin over here like it doesn’t matter, like we didn’t matter, like I never….didn’t.” He shook his head.
You, I hear you’re doing fine.
Seems like you’re doing well
as far as I can tell.
Time is leaving us behind
another week has passed
and still I haven’t laughed yet.
“I was just talking to Michael,” she said sharply. “He’s my friend and besides it’s not like you’ve been sitting at home moping and researching monasteries.”
The words seemed to sink in slowly, each taking a moment to process. “What are you talking about?” He wasn’t sure if it was the comments or the liquor, but Phyllis wasn’t making any sense.
“Your habit of getting friendly with the models.”
Billy leaned back in his chair. He didn’t know she knew about that. “Why do you…why do you care?”
Phyllis stammered, feeling heat rush to her cheeks. “I don’t care, I just mean you shouldn’t be talking to me about my choices when you aren’t exactly being low profile either.”
“You know–you’re right. In fact, I should give her a call right now. I’ve still got her number.” Billy stood, walking towards the door.
So tell me, what your secret is
to letting go, letting go like you did,
like you did.
Did you forget the magic?
Did you forget the passion?
Oh, and did you ever miss me,
and long to kiss me?
He felt her hand on his arm and closed his eyes as he let out a grateful breath. He turned, looking at her. The green eyes, normally full of fire were full of tears.
“It’s that easy?” she said quietly.
The desire to comfort her was primal and his hand was cupping her neck before he could properly weigh the option. “What’s easy?”
Phyllis swallowed hard. Showing vulnerability was something she hated, something she avoided at all costs. Only with him was she willing to take that risk, to lower the walls. “To just move on, to forget, to make the last few months just disappear.”
“Is that what you think?” She could see the pain in his eyes as he spoke. Gone were the snipes and jabs. In their place was raw emotion–a man standing in front of her with his heart in his hands.
“That’s certainly the way it seems. You’ve told me over and over again that you don’t love me, that you never did. You told me that you didn’t want to be with me, that you never did, that we never had anything real, that our relationship wasn’t even about me.” His voice broke as he recalled every painful moment. “Do you have any idea how that made me feel?”
She nodded, tears beginning to fall down her face. “I know. I’m so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you.”
“You wouldn’t even talk to me. I tried to call you–you wouldn’t call me back. I’d see you at the office, you’d walk in the other direction.”
“I couldn’t look at you–I knew if I did..”
“What?” His voice was a low whisper as he stepped towards her. “What is it,”
“I knew I would remember–looking at you–God even now–I can remember every moment of the time we were together. I remember how it felt when you held me, the way you used to run your fingers through my hair, the way you’d kiss me so softly. I knew I’d remember it all and then…then I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk away.”
“Why do you have to?”
She looked in his eyes. So loving, so sincere. “I blew up your life.”
“I don’t care.”
“I do care.” Phyllis sighed. These were the moments the struggle was the most difficult–when she had to give him reasons why she couldn’t stay–why she couldn’t be with him. In truth, she couldn’t come up with good answers. The damage was done. She wasn’t sparing anyone by denying herself a chance at happiness.
Her mind raced through potential explanations before going completely blank as she felt his lips come crashing down on hers.
Pulling back, he smiled slightly at her stunned expression. “I noticed you were having a hard time coming up with a reason why you had to walk away–I thought I’d give you a little reminder of why you want to stay.” He looked into her eyes. Her resolve was fading in front of him–he could sense it. “And there’s also the fact that I love you,”
She could lie–she could tell him she didn’t love him. She could tell him their relationship meant nothing, that he and their affair were mistakes. She could say all those things, but they would be lies.
“Do you have any idea how much I’ve missed you? I know I’ve said things–hurtful things, horrible things. I said I didn’t love you–that I never had any real feelings for you. I lied to you over and over but I thought by being in your life that I was making things worse for you, I thought I was making your life harder.”
“You listen to me. Everything is better when you’re here. I have a reason–a purpose. Without you, I’m just going through the motions. I don’t have that fire, that joy, that love. I need you. You make my life better in every way possible.”
His arms wrapped around her then and the aching she’d felt in her heart since the moment she’d walked away from him was finally gone. “I love you,” she whispered. She could have continued the lies–continued the insane idea that she knew better for him, but she chose to tell the truth. Billy made her happy. He set her free. The truth will do that too, and tonight it had. Her truth had helped her find her freedom with him.