The moment I fell apart
It was that moment when he woke up and his hands were on my stomach and my face, smoothing the hair out of my eyes, and I thought everything was going to be okay, that after months of this nighttime limbo and daytime distance that everything was back in its right place.
And I suppose it was. Just not for me.
I realized he was still asleep when I heard a name from his lips and it wasn't mine. Maybe it never was. There was never talking during the limbo hours, so maybe it was never me he was seeing when he touched my cheek, my leg, with his eyes squeezed shut.
He kissed my shoulder and there was that name again. Not mine.
For one moment, I thought I would cave in on myself. For one moment, my mind stopped working, and my heart stuttered to a halt. But it was only a moment, a fraction of a moment, and then there was no feeling.
I rolled over and touched his face, twined my fingers in the very tips of his hair for what I knew would be the last time.
The next morning, things only got worse, and the non-feeling in the pit of my stomach threatened to consume everything.
He was still rubbing sleep from his eyes. "Hm?"
"Anna. Who's Anna?"
He froze. It was a split-second, but I saw it. Cheek muscles tightened, pulled in; eyes widened slightly, a slow blink, and then, "Oh, uh, she's this, this person I've been seeing. Sort of seeing. You know."
"You were talking in your sleep."
He laughed nervously. "I was? Sorry."
I was, too. Sorry.
It seemed like time was working slowly around me. A shard of time sliced into my chest, slipped between two ribs, and I felt sharp kitten teeth nipping at my heart. I pushed it aside.
He smiled back. Less than a second had passed.
Then I was speaking, and I'm not sure if I meant to. The world was tipping to one side. "I didn't realize."
He was silent.
"Do you - have you..."
He was silent again, longer, hesitating.
I felt betrayed, justified, and calm all at once. I rolled my head to the right and stared, unseeing, at the television.
He touched my head with his fingertips, and his thumb skimmed the outer shell of my ear gently. "Do you really want to know?" he asked quietly.
It was my turn to hesitate. I opened my mouth to say yes, but then time splintered again, and the possibilities of the outcome of my answer flashed through my mind. "No."
He sighed softly, his breath whispering across my neck.
"Are you happy?" I asked, not speaking the addendum "without me."
He shrugged as best he could laying down, the pillows shifting with his shoulders. "Yeah, I guess. I, it's, I don't know."
"I want you to be happy." It was a half truth.
So I let him go, even though I knew it wasn't my choice to make.
I fell apart.