End of a Romance

END OF A ROMANCE
Julie Valentine
October 2013

Looking Back – From Both Sides

One Side

The office clock over the door was showing 19:03 hrs and I was still there.

My stomach was complaining that I had eaten nothing since my salad sub and black coffee from the machine at 14:00 hrs. My shoulders were aching from being bent over my keyboard, my eyes felt like the sands of the Sahara had visited upon them and my blood was coursing through the veins in my temples visibly throbbing like it was trying to escape my body.

I was waiting for a phone call to let me know where I was to meet the man who had been in my life for the past 3 years. Would he choose our regular eating place not far from my office or would I have to go out and hail a cab to take me somewhere more exotic. I hoped it would be somewhere more exotic.

For some weeks I had been expecting him to ask me to marry him. Perhaps he was afraid that I would refuse him and maybe I should be the one to ask.  I really wanted to be settled as I was getting older and longed for a family whilst I was young enough and fit enough to enjoy having babies around and all the hard work they entailed.

At last, the office phone was ringing. I allowed it to go to answerphone before I picked up, there was no need to take business calls at this hour.

That tingling feeling still came over me every time I heard his voice, a soft, mellow, gentle voice and one I had never once heard raised in anger or frustration in all the time I had known him.

I snatched up the handset and whispered my usual greeting.

Unusually so, he was brief and to the point, it was not his normal response to my whispered ‘hello darling’. I wondered what could be wrong but knew he would tell me in the restaurant.

He had suggested we meet in our usual place so I quickly donned my coat, grabbed my bag and umbrella and, having turned out the lights and locked up the office, ventured out into the cold, dismal late autumn evening. The pavements were damp but it was not raining. The crowds that had bustled along these same pavements earlier had now gone, probably already safely in their warm homes, whilst I trudged along to ‘La Capri’ a little Italian restaurant less than ten minutes walk from my office, on the same road.

The restaurant was warm and cosy compared to my office, and the waitress welcomed me, took my coat and umbrella and escorted me to our usual table in the corner. I was first to arrive and ordered a Latte to warm me up and stop my stomach from complaining so loudly.

There were few customers in the restaurant when I arrived, as most people, having been home to shower and change before dining, would come out later.

I was half way through my very welcome cup of coffee when I heard the door open.

With both hands round the cup to warm them and my nose embracing the sweet aroma of the coffee, I looked up to see him quickly take off his coat, hand it to the waitress and walk briskly over to our table.

He briefly kissed me on my forehead and sat down heavily opposite me.

There were signs of strain on his face, his lips were pressed together and his eyes squinting as he looked at me, showing lines in the corner that I had never noticed before.

I wondered what it could be that was troubling him.

He hadn’t said anything so after a few more moments of silence I felt that I should speak.

Just as I started to take a deep breath in readiness, he spoke.

I can’t recall exactly the words he used but I know that he told me he had met somebody else recently, somebody he wanted to marry and spend the rest of his life with. He said he was very sorry as he felt he had let me down but had never really felt that our ‘friendship’ would ever result in marriage.

My mouth opened but I could not think of a word to say.

He apologised again and said he felt he should go.

He rose and with another light kiss on my forehead, collected his coat and left.

I was so stunned I really did not know what to do. It would take me at least an hour to get home, so I ordered something to eat and sat there picking at it until I could stand my tumult no more. I had to get away and find somewhere to cry on my own,

All I could think of was the three years of my life I had spent with a man I thought loved me, three years that I could have been married and settled with a loving husband and a family.

Sleep did not come easily that night nor many nights following.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The Other Side

I knew I could not go on any longer leading what was effectively a double life.

I had been with someone for three years and they had been three good years, unfortunately I had never felt the deep love that I had expected to grow within me.

It had been very hard therefore when I met up with a girl at a works conference I attended out of town. Short, slim and immaculately dressed, she was not what you would call a ‘beauty’ but she was  very amusing and listened intently to what I said. I considered her to be quietly very intelligent and she knew her subjects well, because of the latter I had many conversations with her after the conference and had met her frequently in meetings and over lunch.

It wasn’t long before I knew I was falling in love.

We met for dinner one evening and for drinks afterwards. It transpired that she felt as I did, and so began our affair.

My conscience made it very difficult for me, I knew that I was not being at all fair on the girl I had been with for three years. I felt that she was expecting me to ask her to marry me shortly, but although I probably would have done, and no doubt lived happily with her, I would never have been really satisfied with my life.

Having met with my ‘conference lady’, as I called her, I knew immediately that she was the one for me. Although it had been only a brief romance, I had to end my relationship with my other.

I was dying inside, I hate to hurt people’s feelings, but knew it would be far worse if the matter was allowed to continue and I most certainly would not be able to hide my changed feelings. I still loved her, I knew that, but now knew it was a totally different kind of love.

It was only fair to tell her the next time we met.

It took all my courage to arrange the meet and to actually walk into ‘La Capri’, the restaurant we had used since the start of our romance. I felt so cruel, she had done nothing wrong. It was a damp, cold autumnal evening, not really a good time to break off a relationship, but when is?

I didn’t know where to start, but it had to be short and sweet. I did not want to make her hurt longer than necessary by sitting with her and going over and over my reasons. I just knew my feelings had changed.

I left soon after telling her.

What a rat I felt, but what else could I do?

I am now married, with a baby on the way, and we have moved away so I could be sure of not hurting her any more than necessary by meeting in the street.

I still think of her occasionally and wonder whether she has been able to find a man who can love her as she deserves, I do hope so.

Love is a hard lesson to learn.

.. -oOo- ..

(words 1387)

~~~   ~~~   ~~~

go to Ebb & Flow

https://julievparsons.wordpress.com/short-stories/ebb-flow/

~~~   ~~~   ~~~

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