They had had a fight. He had said things he regretted, but so had she. He didn't feel either of them was more in the wrong than the other, but he could feel something wasn't the same any more. Something felt broken.
She sat across him, not next to him. She'd left the apartment the day before and it had not been a good point to leave on, but it had been necessary. The antipathy had been escalating and the conversation had become less and less about what it started about. And what had set off the by then angry conversation hadn't even been all that important.
Sometimes what breaks a seemingly unbreakable pact isn't something big. To be honest, he thought to himself, it usually wasn't. It was something small, that ended up being the last drop. A combination of small things, lingering doubts, uncertainties, unasked and unanswered questions, that led up to the final break. Where the will to keep going was just whittled away over time, effort and even longing. Whatever had kept them together was no longer strong enough to do so.
So he sighed and looked at her sideways. She looked up at him similarly.
"So this is it?" he asked quietly.
"I... I don't want it to be, but I don't think it can go any other way."
"Can you at least explain why? From your side, I mean?"
She paused and looked back down again. He saw that she was thinking. That she was trying to figure it out while also having to talk about it at the same time. He didn't know his own answer to that question either, but he knew that he understood what she was saying. It hadn't been his choice, and he hadn't seen it coming, but neither had she. This, well, this just happened. And now that it was there, it was almost a relief. A heartbreaking and soul-crushing relief.
He loved her with all his heart. That had not changed. She said the same, and he believed it.
But something felt broken. Broken enough to be replaced, not repaired. Some things are simply too far gone to come back from.
"I don't think I can," she eventually said, her brain wracked but coming up empty. "It's nothing in specific, it's more of a general feeling that things have run their course."
"Hm," he said. "I don't like not having a specific reason, but if there isn't one, I guess I can't ask for one either."
"Don't you feel the same?" she asked him, tears in her eyes.
His eyes welled up too.
"I... I don't know. I agree that things don't feel right, that it feels out of sorts, and I can't pinpoint what it is either. If it's with you, or with me, or either of our situations, but there's a disconnect I can't place at all."
"Exactly, that's what I mean, it's like we've disconnected from one another over time and we're just now realizing."
"Yeah. I think that's a good description," he said, looking down again.
"I try," she said, producing a weak smile.
He smiled in response.
"We tried, though, didn't we?" he said eventually.
He hadn't intended to, but it hit her hard. She cried. He tried to keep it in but soon so did he. She nodded, not being able to form any words at the moment, and held out her hand. He grabbed it and squeezed.
"I love you," he said.
"I love you too," she said back.
They sat in silence for a few minutes. Sounds of sniffs and sadness filled the otherwise silent room.
"I think you should go," he said as carefully as he could. He let go of her hand gently. "I don't want you to, but I think you should."
She looked at him. Leaving now would end it. Leaving now would be closing this chapter for real. Not just saying the words, staying here and remaining in this situation, but it would be to really end it. But she knew he was right. Either stay here and in this situation, ending but not done, or leave and finalize it.
They couldn't stay here and keep ending it. There had to be a conclusion.
"Yeah," she agreed. "You're right."
They got up and wiped their faces. They walked to the front door and he helped her put on her coat.
"My things?" she said.
"We'll arrange that later, once we're more used to all this," he said with a friendly smile.
They hugged. For what seemed like an eternity. Then he released and nodded.
Time to go.