“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said calmly, obviously unperturbed.
“Oh, bull shit,” she spat, holding his phone up an inch away from his face. “Right here. Your own words.”
“Well I can’t exactly read it like that,” he said as he quickly grabbed it from her hand.
She crossed her arms and stared at him expectantly. “Well? Can you read it now?”
His eyes narrowed and looked up at her from his phone without moving his head. They shared a look of utter contempt for a second before his eyes returned to the screen.
The few tense moments as he read felt like a week. They were both aware that he already knew what it said, after all it was a conversation that he was a fifty percent participant in. And they were likewise both aware that he was using this time to try to formulate his response argument. But still they played out their roles in the scene, her the impatiently waiting girlfriend, him the carefully studying boyfriend. The performance gave them both a brief respite from the chaos of their current reality, until he finally spoke again.
“This is…” He trailed off and shook his head. “You’re reading too much into this.”
“Oh don’t try to turn this around on me. You know damn well that if you saw the exact same thing on my phone, you’d be throwing a fit.”
“Well, that’s a little different, don’t you think?” He looked back up at her with the determination of a man who knew he was launching a brutal attack.
It landed perfectly, with devastation. She recoiled, her face twisted into a combination of incredulity and horror that quickly melted into pure rage. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“You know exactly what it means.” He tried to remain placid, but an anger that had obviously been simmering inside him for a long time started to boil over. “Of the two of us, you’re the one who has some experience in this kind of thing, remember?”
She raised her hand to slap him, but didn’t move it. Tears were now streaming down her face. He felt it too. They were both exhausted, completely and utterly spent. This relationship had been work and it had drained everything that either of them had.
“I can’t,” he exhaled heavily and collapsed into the chair next to him. “I just can’t anymore.”
“I know,” she said. She wiped the tears from her eyes and sat down on the floor. “Me neither.”
They sat. And for a long while, neither of them said anything. The storm continued to rage just outside the door, thunder and lightning punctuating long bouts of heavy rain bombarding the glass wall of the lobby.
“So that’s it then.” She was looking directly into his eyes. There were no tears this time. “We both agreed?”
He looked back into her eyes. “Yeah. We tried like hell, but it’s just not enough.”
He stood up from the chair and offered her his hand, helping her up from the floor.
The rain had finally cleared up and they walked out into a world that felt new.