A Mess

       Some relationships fail because the love just isn’t there anymore. But it wasn’t like that for us. It wasn’t that I didn’t love Charlotte enough, and it wasn’t that she didn’t love me enough. Because I did, and she did too.




       Sometimes love just isn’t enough to hold people together.

       You see. Char had always struggled with self deprecation. She would find anything to tear herself apart over, and watching it was brutal. It’s not like I could help her.

       There was an accident. It was no one’s fault. A true, honest to god accident. But the car flipped twice and I was endlessly grateful that Char didn’t lose her life. 

       29 stitches. From the crown of her head all the way across the left side of her face to her jawline. Three broken ribs. A fractured wrist. Several strained muscles. But she was alive. She wasn’t paralyzed or debilitated for life. The doctors said that the gash across her face would scar, but other than that, she would be virtually fine.

       I remember the way she clutched my hand from her hospital bed, feeling fear instead of relief. At the time, I couldn’t for the life of me imagine why.

       It hurt, seeing her face bandaged up for so long. Although I barely got to see her face at alll. She never let me change her bandages, and she wouldn’t let me go with her to physical therapy. Instead, she had her mom live with us for a while as she recovered. It was ridiculous. I just couldn’t understand how she could think herself so weak that she wouldn’t let me see her. Charlotte had never been comfortable with vulnerability. We even went to therapy for it. But I never would’ve guessed it could be so bad.


       The healing process took five weeks and two days in total. Five weeks where I couldn’t sleep next to her. Five weeks where I barely saw her at all. At first, I missed her so much it hurt. I just wanted to be by her side, and show her that I would never abandon her. That was her biggest fear after all. But then the hurt faded into a dull simmering bitterness. Had I not proven that I loved her? Had I not shown that no physical or mental struggle could drive me away. The distance was a wedge. It grew larger by the day. There had already been a seed planted in our relationship. One of mistrust and insecurity. All it needed was a bit of attention.

       Once she healed, I tried so desperately to be happy for her. But even a blind man could see that she was devastated. A gnarled scar twisted up the side of her face, and into a section of thinned hair. It was only a small space, just above her ear. It was hardly noticeable at all. The scar itself was a different story. In one sense, it reminded me how grateful I was for her to be alive and with me. But a larger part of me knew that everytime I looked at her, the scar was all that both of us would be able to think about. Me, out of guilt, and her out of shame. I tried not to grimace.

       I kissed her over breakfast, I ruffled her hair at lunch, I started sleeping next to her again. Life went on. But I knew it wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair to me. And it wasn’t fair to her. I had never thought of the scar as unattractive. In my eyes, nothing could take away from Char’s beauty, but the scar was a reminder of the rift that was steadily growing larger between us. I held on to hope that things would get better, but our conversations became more and more fleeting as time passed.

       At some point, I didn’t have it in me to push her anymore. She clearly had no intention of talking to me. I would hear her crying in the bathroom, but I wouldn’t go to check. She wouldn’t have let me in anyways. It started happening more frequently. She would cry, and I would stay in bed and listen, pretending to be asleep. It was torture for both of us.

       It was too much. One night I heard her sobbing so hard, desperate and strangled and I had no idea why. That was the worst part. I could make guesses, but I never ever knew what was going on in that brain of hers. She sounded absolutely tortured, and as much as our relationship was falling to pieces, I did still love her more than anything. I went into the bathroom and skipped knocking all together, despite knowing she would’ve asked me not to. She was a heaving mess on the floor, and I would be damned if I left her there for one more second. 

       She didn’t kick me out. We were both too far gone. I quietly knelt next to her where she was folded in on herself, and pulled her into my chest. She let me hold her while she cried. She didn’t say a word. I didn’t either. It was the least we both deserved. To get lost in each other one more time. 

       Her sobs petered off into hiccups into deep inhales into soft breaths against my collarbone. I rubbed small circles on her back through it all, ignoring the shaking of my own hands. 

       We stayed like that for god knows how long. I was almost convinced that she had fallen asleep; maybe it would have been easier like that. I could have carried her to bed, and we could have pretended for another day. But we were both tired and in love and broken.

       “This…” Her voice was quiet. I traced designs along her shoulder blades. “We can’t go on like this.”

       “No,” I spoke as softly as possible, but the admission cut through the air. Her body tensed. “We can’t.”

       “I’m sorry.”

       I moved my hand up to stroke through her hair. It was soft. Of course it was. “I know. I am too.”

       I thought that might have been the end of it, but she gripped the front of my shirt tighter and turned her face into my neck. “I know I could have… should have tried harder. Please don’t hate me.”

       I tilted my head back and blinked at the ceiling a few times, clearing the burning in the back of my eyes. I stuttered on a breath. “Never.” Even now, she still doubted my devotion. “I love you Charlotte. Forever and always.”

       I felt her inhale sharply against me, and saw tremors rack through her spine again. The tears came once more but I stayed. I stayed, and she stayed, and the cars and people and animals all stopped their chatter. Even the stars were quiet. Leaving us to mourn. Loving each other for one last night.