“Wow! What’s the occasion?” A co-worker couldn’t hide his awe while she performed a careful balancing act back to her desk. It was both glorious and enormous, and she replied with her eye lashes batting purposefully fast: “Just because.”
He laughed. She sat it down and basted in the warmth of the divine light. She was being loved by a perfect man.
He was doing all the right things. Flowers, calls, “love you”s, pulling chairs and holding hands. There was not a single thing wrong with him. He was perfect, and she was on cloud nine. She thought his shiny head and round silhouette symbolized wisdom and success. After all, he prided himself as a true gentleman. She had finally found the man in her prayers.
She should know, of course, that there was the black hole of "too good to be true" lurking nearby, waiting to devour her. This has to work, she told herself instead. Nobody had ever treated her the way he did. He talked about marriage, moving in, and what closet she could use constantly. The visual of a happy life they would share was so vivid she could taste it.
It started subtly and she didn’t catch on. A casual comment about news event or people they knew caused his uncomfortable silence. The hand holding stopped. The “love you” became scarce. The flowers made their appearance less and less frequent. She ignored them – he must be tired from his work.
One day he called hours after the time he promised, with a resigned voice and a change of plan:
“I’ve been busy…I have Timmy tonight so I have to cancel. Do you want to come over after work instead?”
Timmy was his babysitting duty almost constantly. They spent countless dates as a party of three. Family was important, so she didn’t complain. This time though, she didn’t feel like trading a night out with babysitting again, so she said: “I’m actually a little tired. I think I’ll go home tonight. We can do this another time.”
There was that silence again. He stopped calling for several days. She had his recorded greeting when she called. Her world was lost in a haze, and there was not an echo to answer her when she reached out.
When he finally did call, he said:
“I don’t think this is working out. We are not meshing as we should.”
“What do you mean?” Was he breaking up with her? It felt like a bomb exploded somewhere near her. She couldn’t see a thing.
He was not happy she didn’t go along with his change of plan, and that was what he meant by “not meshing as they should.” He didn’t think she would have a different idea from his.
She explained and explained. No, she wasn’t mad at him. She was just tired. She would be happy to be with him and Timmy otherwise. She understood Timmy was family, and family should come first. Finally he agreed to meet. Things slowly went back to normal.
Only it was never quite normal again.
Every little thing made her nervous now. Did she say something wrong? Was he going to break it up again? The warm basting light had become revealing spotlight that shone on everything she did and said. If she inquired what his thought was, he would answer curtly: “Why? Are you wondering in your fucked up mind if I’m going to break up with you?”
The gentleman strangely disappeared. In its place was an unkind and distant shadow that scared her. Somehow she had transformed from a princess to a beggar, and she hadn’t a clue how she got there.
There was really no other way to respond when he called and said this was not working out, for the second time.
“Okay. When should I come by and get my stuff?” She didn’t miss a beat.
A pause, then he hesitantly added: “It’s not you. I could be too sensitive sometimes…”
“Please. Don't give me the ‘it’s not you’ speech. When will you be home?” her heart shivered as she spoke. She hung up the phone and all strength was drained from her. The soft carpet cradled her curled up body, and time halted to a hush around her for a long while.
She got there an hour before he would be home, and left everything he had ever given her inside of the house. She collected the few things of hers, and left before seeing him.
While she pulled away she had a final glance at the house – the home of the perfect gentleman.