Gabe feels guilty.
It was almost always the same. Every time we’d go through the motions. Those nights when I was there, we’d have amazing sex. The type that only comes up in your fantasies and after I’d roll onto my back. Joon always follows, places her head on my chest and wraps one of her legs around mine. I can feel her smile as she traces circles on my chest. I cringe inwardly knowing what was coming. Every night the same thing and every night the same outcome and to be honest I’m not really sure who it hurts more. “I love you, Gabe.” Her voice is fresh and soft. I can feel how much she means it. “Yeah, I know.” I sigh, and immediately feel guilty all my breath catching in my chest. I always wish I could take the words back, yet every time I’m faced with this situation my words are always condescending/irritated and my tone is always cold. Her fingers stop mid circle, I open my eyes to see her lift her hand so it’s not touching my skin anymore and she curls her fingers into her palm. I take another deep breath as she tries to be subtle in moving back and rolling over on the far edge of the bed. She brings her knees up so they almost touch her skin and wraps her arms around her body almost like she’s trying to hold herself together. I sigh silently and turn my head slightly to examine her turned back as it takes deep breathes. Her hands are still clenched and her breathing is coming from her mouth instead of her nose. She does it so I won’t realize what’s going on. She’s crying, softly and silently. I feel like I can’t breathe. Her quick breaths stab into my chest and leave behind a stinging pain. Every one of those tears that make their way down her face is drowning me. Then, very softly and almost inaudibly she whispers something that kills me every time. “Keep it simple.” I feel my face heat and burn with shame. It took exactly two hours for her to fall asleep, somewhere among the tears she fell asleep holding herself with arms that should be mine. Exactly two hours after my lyrics softly pierced the air, in a sleeping haze she turns and snuggles back up to me. Her skin so soft and smooth against mine, she always smelled really good too. Like peaches and sunscreen. I wrap my arms around her like I should have earlier and hold her close. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” I whisper into her hair kissing her forehead gently. She sighs contently and almost relieved, like she had been sinking and finally had something to pull herself up on. In her subconscious she knew that I only let her hold me now. She knew that come tomorrow I wouldn’t touch her. I hold her like this for four hours until the clock reads six am, which is when I carefully slip from her grasp and quietly tiptoe out of bed where I get dressed. I stand over her sleeping form and stare trying to imprint her image into my brain. I always contemplate how easy it would be to get back under the covers and sleep, holding her the way I want to and waking up next to her like I’d never done. Instead I abandon her to the night and leave her apartment quietly. As I do the walk of shame down the sidewalk towards my own apartment, every time I close my eyes I can see her shaking back and I can hear her small voice, ‘keep it simple’. If only things could be simple. Things are never simple.