They were so young, of course. Barely into their 20s.
The buried pain. The deeply felt inability to ever trust completely again. The resentment. This is where it all began.
Naturally, he blamed himself. The inattention. His single minded focus. Never there. When he was, hiding behind the daily news. Sure, he told himself, it takes contributions from both to end a relationship. No one party can shoulder all the blame. Nice sentiment, but he never bought into it.
And he had thought he had fixed all that.
It’s pretty near impossible to literally live 24 hours a day for a year with someone, never more than 10 feet away, and then one day discover you never knew them at all, is it not? How can that happen?
From the Sahara’s sands, nearly dying together, the frights in Algeria, to that crumbling hotel in Istanbul. The freedom of the beaches in Crete, the lights in Paris, the museums of Florence. The canals in Stockholm. They had fully experienced together so many highs and anxious bottoms. Surely no two people had ever been closer. Knew one another better. An impossibility. He knew that in his young heart.
Until it all ended so suddenly. He had had fears something was coming, but nothing like this.
Now so many years later, there were no more questions. He could see there were no commonalities. It had all been nothing but a spectacular mirage. That was bad. To realize the heart can be so masterly deceived.
But the enormous guilt and shame he had carried since that time vanished like melting mist in the warm morning sun. This was monumentally good. He finally could get some understanding. His soul … at last … felt released.
He hung up the phone; no need for further words. He couldn’t think of anything more to say in any case.