Love in the Dark | Janel Heasley

I can’t love you in the dark
It feels like we’re oceans apart
There is so much space between us
Baby, we’re already defeated

Love in the Dark – Adele

We sit at the table in silence. The only sound in the room comes from the forks scraping against the plates and the air conditioning turning on and off again. The open floor plan and big windows we used to love so much suddenly make this place seem so empty. Maybe it has always been empty, and I just never realized it.

Silence never used to feel so…hollow. What used to be stolen glances, loving smiles, secret looks between us has turned into strained stares and forced, tight-lipped smiles. The silence never felt as heavy as it does now.

I lift my wine glass to my lips and look over at him, just to find him already staring at me. His blue eyes pierce right into me, like bitter cold on a winter night, it almost burns.

“We can’t keep doing this,” he sighs at me.

“I know, but every time I try to say the words…” I start to say. Finally, I start to get it out, but then, “they just get stuck in my throat.”

“Then I’ll say it for you,” his words hit me like a blow to the face. “You don’t want this anymore.”

“I–” I stop myself and let the silence trickle back in for a few more moments. I look down at the food on my plate, a beautifully made salmon and broccolini dish. I can’t even taste it. I haven’t been able to taste, hear, or see anything these past few weeks. This had begun to eat me alive, from the inside out. “You’re right.”

I say the words so softly, I barely hear them, and they just float in the air, and we stare at each other again. He looks so hurt, so betrayed, but I take a deep breath for the first time in months. I feel the weight physically lift from my shoulders.

“So, just like that, huh?” He says to me, not looking at me, really, just looking through me “After five years together, we just…end? Because you, what? You’re bored? You just need something new? What is it?” He throws these words at me as though I haven’t been trying, as though I’m the only one at fault.

“How dare you say that? We haven’t been us for a long time, and you know it.” He has always been better at pretending than I am.

He pretended for so long that things were okay between us, but somewhere along the line, we stopped fitting together. We stopped wanting the same things, and we became these hollow versions of ourselves. I don’t recognize who I am now, and if he looks in the mirror and sees what I do, he wouldn’t recognize himself either.

“So what? You just want to give up because things are a little different now?” He stands and starts to pace back and forth. I can’t answer him right away; I know what’s coming next will change him forever. It changed me too, at first.

I clear the table and begin putting everything into containers. The granite countertops are cool to the touch, and the soft lighting makes the room seem warm compared to all the stormy light coming in through the grand windows. I feel him staring at me, but I’m not ready yet.

I feel him come up behind me. His lips touch my neck, his chest presses lightly into my back and warms me, and his hands come to rest next to mine. I used to get butterflies when he was near me. For four years, the butterflies never stopped. It never got old…coming home to him. I never got tired of hearing him talk about his day and tell me stories. One day, though, I just stood in the hallway for fifteen minutes before I came inside. I had nothing to say, and for the first time ever, I didn’t have butterflies. I didn’t want to hear any stories. That feeling never went away. It just grew inside me and weighed me down until I could barely move. I couldn’t feel anything except the lack of butterflies.

“Please,” he whispers onto my neck, “please…let’s just try. Let’s try to be us again. I love you.”

His head comes to rest right in the crook of my neck, and he breathes deeply. I nudge him off gently and turn around, and he studies my face so intently because he knows this is the end. He’s trying to memorize every detail, like he wants to remember everything about me in this moment, right before it all comes crashing down.

“That’s the problem though,” I tell him, and his eyes plead with me not to go on, but I have to. “I don’t love you anymore.”


  1. This really made me feel like I was in the room with you two. Great imagery! You did a great job conveying all of the emotions that you felt in this situation.

  2. The word choice and imagery in this piece is absolutely amazing. I could really picture every detail outlined in this story, and I didn’t want it to end!

  3. I love how specific your word choice was. I could feel the tension and the emotion conveyed through your writing, and the imagery was incredible. I genuinely didn’t want the story to end!

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