If he is honest there has been a relief in letting her go. It is surprising in fact just how quickly he has gotten over her. Her absence has not been felt as a loss so much as a return to an equilibrium he missed desperately when she was around. All of that veering left and right, the constant stain of regret on his fingers, where everything he touched was somehow marred by her presence – this perpetual state of agitation mercifully disappeared when she did.
He has his life back. It is a life he loves, his friends, his family, everything he’s worked so hard for. He did the right thing, he told her from the start didn’t he, that he was happy and fulfilled and here is the proof that he wasn’t lying. There is no doubt that life has always been better without her.
And if there are times just before sleep when an uneasy feeling settles over him, when he wonders if this is all he will ever have, well it’s just habit, isn’t it. It’s just a little trick of the mind as she weaves into these suspended moments before sleep, when the last thing he sees in the drifting is her eyes, and how they flash at him. It’s nothing more than a glitch in his system. A temporary tangle of his nerves. She was never permanent after-all, there is no emotional connection he needs to sever. Just a glitch and even good men have glitches from time to time.
As for his friend, the only one who knows – well it’s better that they haven’t seen each other in a while. That singular confession might have been misunderstood. It might have seemed that he was unhappy, that he didn’t love his wife the way he was supposed to. When it all tumbled out he might have suggested that he loved the girl – and he didn’t love the girl. He has never loved the girl. He doesn’t want to have to explain, he doesn’t want to protest too much and so he leaves it all unsaid and it isn’t his problem if there is suddenly nothing left to say.
And so what if her book is still on his bedside table, the one she dog-eared with her little guideposts. The book that raised his wife’s eyebrows and how he said oh you know the books you pick up at airports because it’s foreign, this book. It suggests something unfamiliar and dangerous, and if that still gives him a thrill well he’s only human. He doesn’t remove those dog-ears because they’re good pages, irrespective. It isn’t her. It’s not the flags she has planted. It is just a good book. Irrespective.
He can’t help it either, if others bring her up from time to time. Like his mate who knew her first, his email and that photo last week. The message innocuous – look what she’s up to these days – cause yeah, she was always her own little planet, and she is still pulling people in to her orbit. But he’s far enough away now, he has his own centre of gravity that has kept him on the ground, and if he did stare at that picture just a little too long it was only curiosity. It wasn’t longing for the careless and constant touch. It wasn’t a desire to be pulled back in. He had never, ever liked the dizziness.
If he is honest with himself, and it isn’t that time before sleep when her eyes flash and he wonders if this is all he will ever have, without her.
A year later – I’m not sure you ever really get to the truth of it …