They had been friends for some time and in that time they had kept a steady flow of contact. The suspension of loneliness was no longer the primary motivation behind their connection. They enjoyed each other’s company. It was mutual and amicable between them, except when it wasn’t.
He was a capricious man. An aesthete. He cared more for beauty than for sentiment. She wanted only to be loved. Sometimes he loved her in all ways. Sometimes he did not love her at all. He had his life figured out by the time she entered it. He knew just what he wanted. He’d wasted too much time on detours and broken promises already. He was not prepared to love her. She didn’t figure into his future. He was a very practical sort of man. Paper meant more to him than promises. She could unravel him. She could make him lose sight of his goals. He might be the better for her love but he did not want love. Love was messy and complicated. He wanted a legacy. He wanted to leave his mark on the world.
Sometimes he loved her anyways but whenever she noticed it he denied her outright. They lived in a kind of limbo until one day he decided to give up on love entirely. He thought it the humane course of action to tell her that he didn’t love her and he took from her all the love he had ever declared to her in moments of vulnerability. He was very convincing and she was much too wounded to comprehend her value to him. There were moments when he truly believed he’d gotten her out of his system. Moments when he felt himself superior to her, a gift to all women, a man entitled to pleasures of all kinds.
Time passed and he was not as warm as he had been. She missed his heart, the tone of his voice when he gave chase. He thought he could have her whenever he wanted. She believed now more than before that he did not love her. All that he’d said previously had simply been her imagination. She moved on by painstaking degrees. He told himself that he had done a very good thing for them both. He had done the logical thing. He’d spared them the future pain of breaking up. Friendship endures. As friends they could last a lifetime together.
He pursued the most beautiful girls he could find. Sometimes they rejected him. She comforted him and he resumed his quest. He could love anyone but her. Never her he told himself. She is too good for my base, human love.
Even when he managed to win the attention of a beautiful woman he quickly lost interest. He thought I could do better! There are more beautiful women in this world. Only the most beautiful women can hold my interest. Maybe it would be better if I had several so that I could rotate them as one rotates a wardrobe according to the seasons. This was not as easy as he hoped. Everytime he found another woman he risked losing the first. Worse he missed her so much he could hardly breathe. When someone suggested he loved her and that he could not be satisfied with another woman he went to her and told her more firmly than before I don’t love you! He wanted to punish her for being lovable, for making him feel. She answered I know! She knew it all too well. She trusted him.
Despite some misunderstandings they grew closer together. She was in many ways a wife to him, the primary woman in his life with whom he shared his troubles and dreams. His desire for her grew and he knew not what to do with it. He continually found fault with her. A single hair out of place he exaggerated to excess. When these faults gained no transaction he made up faults. He put words in her mouth and assigned beliefs to her that positively appalled him. That she had never said or thought these things was not important to him. He needed to subdue his love. He was annoyed with her for being beautiful, for becoming more so with each passing day. Why was she making it so hard for him?
One day she met a wonderful man. He was both happy and miserable. With each day he felt more restless inside. He picked fights with her for no reason. She told him I am in love! He said I am very happy for you as friends do but he was not at all happy for himself. He thought what have I done pushing her into the arms of another man? How could I not see the creative power driving the universe is love? That the only legacy, the only way to immortalize oneself is to love as fully as possible? He anguished night and day. He’d stuck to his plans, to his logic so why hadn’t it worked to his advantage?
She moved in with her new man. His apartment felt empty. He missed her terribly. He hated that she slept with another man every night. A man other than him. Loved a man other than him. He might yet find a woman but it would not be her. Never her. She was taken. He had robbed himself of her.
She got married. It should have been me! He cried. She had a beautiful son. That child should have been ours! He cried. He’d told her several times before that her life prior to him was a mistake. She should have chosen him. Waited for him. He hated that she had loved someone before him. Yet when he had her within the realm of possibility he had only been able to think of the past he’d been denied and of the future still uncertain. While he toiled endlessly with his beautiful distractions the present, by which all futures are formed, gave way like wet paper.