Seventy-SevenMature

(Short, I know, but it's time I did this.)

 

“Den, how can you do this to me?”

“Shani, you’re a lover,” I yelled down the phone. “You’re happy and cheerful. Your chief sorrow was that your dad made you feel unworthy. But now you’re united in Christ. You’re remembered the understanding you were meant to have. And then you had acne. And then your cousin did something horrifically cowardly. But that’s gone now. You’ve forgotten what it’s like to hate. And with that forgetfulness, your sympathy for others who feel that way goes too.”

“But. Den, I need to forget. If I don’t forget, I’m not myself.”

“No, and so you need people who help you to forget. You need to be yourself above all else.”

“You make me so happy, Den. You make me whole.”

“Two halves make a whole, and when there is a whole, neither half regrets it. There’s rough edges in our relationship. I resent your need to forget, because I can never forget. I never want to forget. When I forget, I’m not myself. But you are. We can’t win together at the same time, and that’s why it doesn’t work.”

“It does work, Den. I’ll never forget again; I promise.”

“Shani, I couldn’t do that to you. And nor could you do it to yourself. I love you too much, and you need to forget the pain too much.”

“If you love me, why are you leaving me?”

“Because it’s the kindest thing to do. You think it’s fairyland now. But it’ll go wrong. If we get too close to one another, I will snap, Shani, darling. Don’t underestimate my emotion. I have plenty of it. It doesn’t show often, but when it does, it does!”

“I know you’re talking about my parents. But we’re not like that. We’re—”

“Don’t be stubborn. Open your eyes, Shani. I don’t love you as a wife. I never have done. You’ve helped me so very much, brought me back to life and happiness and given me friendship where it would’ve boosted my mood most. But I couldn’t marry you.”

“I never said I could marry you.”

“That changes everything.”

“How?”

“I am not your mate, Shani. We love one another, but we are not mates. You’re a born lover. A humanist. A person who loves people. The loss of my immediate affection won’t infinitely harm that quality in you. There’s a man out there who will really really love you. I mean that. But he’s not me.”

“It will harm me. I’ll be broken forever because Den O’Derron doesn’t love me.”

“I do! I do love you! But I don’t feel anything that’s going anywhere. I’m not the only man in the universe. You don’t know anything about my past, my family, my old hopes and fears. You only saw the old Den once, when I disembarked, and you didn’t love him.”

“I love the new Den.”

“How can I explain it? There is no old Den or new Den. There is just one Den, both Dens intertwined, two sides mingling but each side a coward of the other. There is a woman who brings my conflicting sides together. And there is another woman who drives them apart.”

“Which am I?”

I blew a kiss down the phone. “Goodbye, Shani.”

The End

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