Three Years

He pulled into the parking spot, near but beyond sight of his apartment. Dane had a big smile on his face, one of the biggest smiles he’d had in some time. It was amazing how good Phaedra made him feel; just the sound of her voice over the phone was enough to tear down the walls he built around his heart, and it had been a long time. But their reunion wasn’t all joy and laughter.

It weighed heavily on her heart, as he could feel it when she asked, “Are you happy?”

There it was, the question he had been seeking the answer to for months. But he knew deep down that if he had to ask the question, then he already had the answer. “No.” He wanted to explain, to let her know everything that was on his heart, but nothing came and silence filled the conversation.

“Dane, I love you. I have always loved you. And I will always love you,” Phaedra finally, after three heartbreaking years, admitted to her feelings for him. Dane’s eyes filled with tears as he began sobbing uncontrollably. As much as he might have looked the fool, sitting in his car on the phone, crying, he couldn’t have cared less. His heart about leapt from his chest.

After a few moments to regain some semblance of composure, he replied, “I’ve known. But to hear you say those words means everything to me. I love you with every fiber of my being.”

“I’m sorry…” it just lingered there, he could tell there was so much more she needed to say but couldn’t, and he was at a loss for words as well.

“It’s okay, my angel. I understand.”

He could feel her smile, somehow, even over the great distance between them. It was one of those smiles filled with pain. And through his joyful tears, he found his smile as well.

“I need to go, talk soon?” she asked.

“Of course,” Dane responded. And with that, they hung up. This was so hard. Waiting in his apartment was the woman he’d been living with for the last year and a half. Granted, he wasn’t happy, but from the very beginning of the relationship he’d felt as though he were living a lie. No matter what he did, his soul belonged to Phaedra.

He hadn’t stopped crying when he opened the door to a cheerful Lauren eager to see him. Her smile disappeared when she saw his face, and the scowl he wore was an obvious omen as he walked right past her and into their room. Not a word uttered.

None of this was fair to Lauren, he knew, but he had felt so alone, and she offered him a false comfort at a time when Phaedra wasn’t his. he thought, perhaps if he faked the laughter, some form of happiness would follow, but that, too, was a lie.

He sat down on the bed and the tears came flooding back again.


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