by Millie Sansoye
It starts with the small things.
He’s sleeping softly whilst you’re racking your brains in the middle of the night.
The distance that pushes you apart in the bed you share.
When he calls during the day, he’s distracted.
You find you’re repeating yourself whilst questioning whether or not you should hang up, but he says ‘I love you’ in the middle and it makes you cling onto the phone a little tighter.
But then he texts you later to say he can’t do dinner, even though you’ve got it bubbling away in the oven. So you lose your appetite and you can’t even bear to eat what was supposed to be a romantic meal for two.
You keep worrying about whether you said something wrong on the phone earlier. You’re both students and you know he doesn’t have any tight deadlines. So you text him later and ask if everything’s okay and he reassures you that it is.
It’s fine. It’s going to be fine. You keep trying to tell yourself that it’s all in your head and that of course he means what he says, he loves you. Something just came up, that’s why he couldn’t make dinner.
You try your best to fall asleep in your bed even though you’re not used to spending your nights alone. You toss and turn, but it’s no use. You can’t stop thinking about him, about you, about ‘us’.
You get a call in the early hours of the morning and you pounce on your flashing phone. It’s him. He wants to come over and sleep at your place. You’re so relieved and excited that you jump at the opportunity and ten minutes later, you go downstairs to greet him at the front door of your dorm. As you’re walking upstairs, something doesn’t feel right.
Why is he dressed like that? Why is there a cloud of alcohol surrounding him? So you get in your room and you confront him. He’s too drunk to lie, so he just tells you that his friends invited him on a night out which is why he couldn’t come to dinner. You try to rationalise it in your head, but you can’t. Why didn’t he tell you when he called to say he wasn’t coming for date night? Why didn’t he tell you at any point during the night? He tells you you’re crazy. But you’re the same age as him and you know that on a night out, other people are all too tempting. You’re too tired and he’s too drunk to argue, so you both go to bed. He wants to get closer, but you’re too mad, so you make an excuse and say you’re feeling too hot and try and get some rest.
You tell your friends what happened. You wish you could tell them it was the only time he has let you down, but it’s becoming the norm rather than the exception. You sigh. Your heart feels heavy. You want to leave, but you love him too much. You can’t imagine your life without him, and you know that you’d rather sacrifice yourself than give him up.
So you keep trying. You keep trying to keep him happy and entertained even though the more you do it, the more soul-destroying it is for you. You’re secretly seething underneath but you want to make this work. You’re supposed to make this work, right? You feel like exploding because you’re putting your heart and soul into it but it seems as though he’s just laid back and loving life.
You become resentful. You’re at an all-time low and everything he does drives you nuts. Despite your best efforts, he still chooses to go partying instead of hanging out with you, even though he’s been out every night this week. So one night, you decide to go out and give him a taste of his own medicine. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders – or rather, the guilt of the world. You shouldn’t be having so much fun without him, but you are. You feel alive for the first time in months. You forget about what may happen tomorrow and enjoy the moment with your friends.
But the next night, the distance between you is even worse. He can’t take it. He can’t handle that you did to him what he has been doing to you. You both don’t sleep that night, but you both pretend you are. And you just know that tomorrow is going to be the end of ‘us’.
Millie Sansoye is a writer, feminist and linguist from London. She has many hobbies, but writing trumps them all. She is slowly becoming a well-known name online and her ambition is to be a columnist. As a writer of colour, her writing predominantly focuses on race, gender and culture, but she dabbles in personal writing and fiction too. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, baking, dancing and working out.