The Straw

Dane was so close to graduation. Things between he and Phaedra were going well, and soon he’d be able to head home for some much needed rest and relaxation. But no matter how much he wanted everything to be headed his way, Dane had long since learned that nothing in life was that simple – something, he knew deep down, was amiss.

“I’ll be done in a week,” he told Phaedra, excitedly.

“That’s great!” she replied, “I’m so happy for you. So, where are you off to next?”

Dane told her, “Well, I’m going to be stationed just southeast of here, but I get ten days to relax after graduation, so I was going to head home and see the family. But you know what would be even better?”

“What’s that?”

“If I just shot straight through and came to see you instead.” His smile was uncontrollable at the thought of seeing her again, as it had been far too long.

Phaedra hesitated, “…No, you can’t do that. You need to see your family, I’m sure they miss you.”

“Nah, I just saw them in July, I can stop by on my way back, though.” Dane should have caught it in her voice, in her hesitation, but he refused to.

“You know I’d love to see you, but…”

Now Dane caught it, “But?”

“Dane, look…” she trailed off, “There’s something I’ve needed to tell you, but I don’t know how.”

His heart felt like it was about to burst, his good mood and excitement to see the love of his life giving way to the worst possible scenarios as this conversation played out in his mind. But he wasn’t ready for what came.

When he remained silent, she went on, “Well, I guess I’ll just come out with it. When I was at camp, I met someone. His name is John,” his stunned silence at this revelation forced her to keep the air between them filled with something, “I moved out here to be closer to him.”

Dane’s mind was reeling, his emotions in an uproar as his face contorted in a visible show of pain from the agony his heart was feeling in this moment. Then, after a few moments and almost inaudibly, he responded, “You could move to be closer to him, but you couldn’t come to my graduation? You couldn’t find it in your heart to come see me, to give us a chance?” His tears were falling now, it felt like a waterfall.

Phaedra didn’t have the words. All she could muster was, “I do love you Dane, but…”

“Don’t waste your breath.” His heart became solid ice with those words. “You say you love me, yet you do this to me? And the worst part is that you moved out there at least 3 months ago and only now you tell me!?”

Now it was Phaedra’s turn to cry, “I didn’t want to hurt you, Dane! And I DO love you!”

“Clearly…” his sarcastic tone and coldness caused her voice to shudder.

“Dane…please.”

“I’m going to get some sleep. Bye.” He hung up then, but of course there was no sleep to be had that night. His thoughts wandered, wished, hoped, and finally, if mercifully, gave up. No matter the power of what they had between them, it wasn’t enough for her, and so, the only thing left for him was to find a way to move on. While he doubted that could happen, he would certainly try.

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