Life’s too short to even care at all.

She wasn’t very good at communicating with people. That had always been her problem. She either didn’t want to talk to them at all because she didn’t think they were worth the effort, or she didn’t want to feel weak.

Feeling weak was the greatest inhibitor to the communication she longed for with the people she cared about. But instead of reaching out, she usually shut down.

That’s what had happened with him, just like with everyone else.

She so badly wanted to be in love. She so badly wanted him to be that person. She so badly wanted it, but had been hurt so much, too much, to let him in.

For a long time after everything before him had happened, she kept opening herself up to other men, kept giving them more chances because she so badly wanted them to be different that he had been. But time and again, they had proven her wrong, and she couldn’t hope anymore. Her hope had run dry. She couldn’t imagine anything better. She wanted it, but she could no longer sense it or remember what it felt like, its flavor.

So when he had become an option, it seemed unbelievable. But all his promises were drunken. Honest sober moments didn’t exist with him, and how honest are the drunken ones? She made sure every time she felt a modicum of hope that she tamped it back down carefully with reason. This won’t happen. You know he didn’t mean that. You know it is crazy what he’s saying, that all of sudden you’ll just skip all the steps and all the bullshit and be together, she told herself.

At the bar, she hadn’t been able to take it anymore. He’d been there, sitting in a corner booth, catching her eye across the bar, yet he hadn’t spoken to her all night. It was this vicious circle, like all her other romantic entanglements. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath. When she opened them, he was still staring. She slipped to the bathroom, splashing her face with water, realizing she’d driven separately from her friends for once, and could leave.

When she came out, there was a girl, one she’d never seen, sitting on his lap. Her phone buzzed, a hello text from him. They were in the same bar, and instead of talking to her, he was texting her from under another girl. Other nights, he would follow her around like a sad puppy. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to stay friends or if he wanted to be with her.

And suddenly, she was just done. Not just with him, with all of it.

She picked up her purse and walked out of the bar, turning off her phone as she went. She paused outside the bar, taking a deep breath of the cool air, before turning towards the street. She started walking, not sure if she was going to her car or if she would just keep going, when she heard her name.

Her breath caught in her chest, not out of excitement that he had followed her, but as she lost the freedom of the clean air, as she felt entrapped again. Tears immediately welled up in her eyes. She didn’t want to face it anymore. She just wanted to run away. She didn’t stop and he called again. She heard him start to jog after her.

“Hey, wait!” he grabbed her arm and spun her to face him mid-movement. She looked him in the eye as one eye brimmed and a tear spilled down her face, the calm cry she couldn’t reign in as she held in real pain, real sobs. “Where are you going? I wanted to talk to you tonight.”

She stared at him in silence. “You moved back then?” She nodded. “Why are you leaving?”

“Because I can’t. I just… can’t.” she turned to walk away again, but he stopped her, just looking at her face. “I can’t do this anymore. You can’t decide what you want, and I’m sick of giving a shit about what it is you do want. You either want to be friends with me, or you want to be with me. You have to choose, it can’t be a constant question. And you won’t. So I’m leaving.”

“I want to be with you,” he said, pulling her in close with a hand cupping her face and pulling back into her hair. He kissed her softly, and then reached into his back pocket, removing a single key. “Come stay with me,” pushing it into her hand.

She laughed, and it came out as a harsh scoff, even to her own ears. “You’re drunk. This doesn’t mean anything. You won’t even remember it in the morning.”

“That’s not true, I’m fine.”

“If I come there tomorrow morning, you will want to know how I got in.”

“So come tomorrow morning.” She turned to walk away. “See you then!” he yelled after her.

She got in her car and let the tears fall, wondering what she was doing. Wanting nothing more than to run away and never come back.

The next morning at 7, she got up and drove to his new apartment. She took nothing but her purse, knowing he wouldn’t remember giving her the key. Still, a tiny piece of her wanted him to say, Come here, get in bed with me, and welcome her like he’d meant it.

She parked and squeezed her eyes shut in the car, wondering if going there even, entertaining even that, was crazy. She was just going to surprise him, make her point, and walk away. She sighed, walked up to the door and let herself in

It was quiet and the sunlight streamed in across the empty white living room, leaving her feeling incredibly alone. She walked back to the bedroom, pushing open the door. She could only see his hair and shoulder from under the sheet, but he was clearly undressed, his clothes strewn around the room. She took one step further, still looking at the arc of his clothes, and glancing past the dresser to her left to see them there.

A pair of black lace panties. A pair that wasn’t hers.

She looked at the closed bathroom door. And laughed. Of course.

He began to wake up to her laugh as she turned and walked out of the room. “Wait! Wait!” he called after her, scrambling out of bed, pulling on boxers while trying to run, resulting in hopping and a slight crash. She was already down his hall, and paused by his kitchen island to face him.

“You forgot, you gave me this,” she said holding up the key between her fingers before dropping it with a clatter onto the counter.

“Just hang on, let me explain.” The toilet flushed back in his bedroom.

“There’s nothing to explain.” She turned to leave.

He reached out and grabbed her arm, she turned and looked him in the eye with a hatred he’d never seen in her face. He pulled back surprised just looking at it.

She jerked away from him, “Don’t ever touch me again.” And then she walked out of his house.

He never saw her again.

She went to her car calmly, and while she waited for the tears, they never came. For some reason, she felt like that was it. That was all she had. She could just tell that she had been broken, and that she no longer knew why she kept going or trying.

She started her car and headed towards home, wondering how she would do it. She realized she couldn’t do that to anyone she loved, so she changed directions. She drove to a big lake an hour away. She stood on the edge of the lake in the cloudy sunlight, watching the beams stretch through holes, licking the tops of the trees around her. Now that she’d decided, let go of the caring, she felt, for once, at peace.

She’d never liked water, couldn’t swim, feared drowning. But she heard it was pretty peaceful. She slipped off her shoes and walked in until she couldn’t touch and stay above anymore, and then just kept walking, letting it rise over her head.

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