Sarah spent Friday evening with some friends from work. They were nice people, but most of them didn’t meet all her standards of education, sophistication, political leaning and looks, excepting her boyfriend, Javier, of course. But even Javier lacked something Sarah couldn’t quite put her finger on, even though he technically checked all her boxes. She found his need to continually please her slightly pathetic.

Javier knew something different was going on with Sarah, and had been for several weeks. He’d done his best to be extra attentive. But, it didn’t appear to be working and Javier couldn’t help but suspect the worst – that Sarah was looking to end things. Then he’d be alone again.

Javier knew Sarah took advantage of him. He knew he’d eventually be miserable if they stayed together. He knew she was only interested in having him there to validate her own superiority, not in who he really was or what was in his heart. But Javier also knew loneliness, and he was afraid of it. He’d been lonely for so long before meeting Sarah. With all its faults, their relationship at least kept that sad loneliness at bay. Some of the time, anyway.

Sarah put on her best wooden smile and was at her most clever all evening, but somehow it felt wasted on the group. Every fifteen minutes or so, she took a moment to scroll through various messages and alerts on her phone to see if anything more stimulating might be going on elsewhere. Then she’d rejoin the banter as its rightful queen.

At eleven, Sarah feigned a headache and said her goodbyes, even though it was way too early for a fashionable exit. Javier got up to leave with her. Normally this would have been expected, but tonight Sarah suggested he stay with the others, so he could fill her in on the rest of the evening’s events. He raised his eyebrows at her, questioningly, but Sarah was already headed for the door.

Javier stood until the door closed behind Sarah. At first, he felt a bit confused she hadn’t wanted him to come with her. And hurt. But then another feeling snuck its way into his mind.

Javier felt relieved.

 

PC: Dogancan Ozturan on Unsplash