She never thought she'd date a shorter guy. Or a younger guy.
But there were many things she never thought she'd do that she did for him.
It started out the way she wanted, the way she read about it. Sneaking around the residences, stealing kisses behind stairwells and in alleyways, skin-to-skin in the still of night.
She was the envy of every girl in school.
She relished the attention. She felt wanted, desired, needed. It soothed her mind, soothed her increasingly anxious thoughts. She hated thinking about the future, hated thinking about change.
She just wanted things to stay the way they were. Blissful. Perfect.
But of course they wouldn't. They never do.
University was hard. It wasn't real life, but it wasn't high school, either. There were so many more people, so many more things to do – a complete and utter freedom unlike anything she had ever experienced before. But instead of flourishing, she floundered. She needed structure, needed accountability. Needed to feel needed.
She felt anything but. She could just not show up and no one would care. Not even him.
She watched him grow more distant each day, his mind clearly elsewhere. So she started to talk for the both of them, faster and faster until even she could barely keep up. She thought it was better this way. She didn't really want to know what he was thinking anymore.
The ease of their relationship was gone. Everything required effort, even the slightest of kisses. Sometimes she just wished he'd go away, go back to San Francisco, and never speak to her again. A clean break.
Yes, that's exactly what she wanted. It would be for the best, she reasoned.
Yet there she was, waiting for his texts, waiting for his calls, every night. Turning down Luc and Marc-André and whomever else wanted her in his bed. Because she was his girlfriend. Because he was her boyfriend. And even if he wasn't good to her now, he once was, and that was what was important.
But then she couldn't deny it. He was right in front of her, speaking the words she still hoped he'd never say.
"I can't do this anymore," he says. "I can't keep lying to you or to myself. I want us to be happy, once and for all. And we haven't been. Not for a long time. I'm sorry, Ellen."
She knows he hates change as much as her. She knows something must have happened, something major, for him to be here, for him to make such a bold declaration. He used to be happy with the status quo. He never wanted to shake things up.
She looks him over, doesn't dare to stare him straight in the eye. He's more disheveled than normal, with dirt and grass on his shirt, on his trousers. His hair looks like someone ran their hands through it.
Again and again and again.
She wants to accuse him, wants to hurt him deeply, tell him he's no better than his father. But she just cries and tells him it's best to leave.
For good, this time.