She pulled the door open, sighing in relief at the warmth that hit her face. The cold wind blew the door shut after her and she entered the restaurant looking for her friends already waiting for her. Her eyes scanned the place and multiple lit up in response when they all spotted each other across the room, however, one pair particularly made a shiver go up to her spine and not because of the cold she just walked through.
His eyes trailed her entire journey across the noise and bustle of the busy night and oh such a beautiful smile crossed his face, releasing the butterflies in her stomach as she approached the table. They all sang her a greeting, her friend ushering her to pick a seat, and with his magnetic pull, she automatically gravitated towards the seat on his right. Not even a second after she sat down, desperately trying to compose herself, he muttered a low, deep hi to her and she was a mess again. No matter how long they’ve been talking for, her heart never failed to miss a beat with him. After all, this was the man she was falling for.
She whispered back her reply and for a little while after, the dinner proceeded smoothly. Everyone was chattering and laughing at the table and she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. They were just beginning to decide what to eat when his phone rang. His eyes darted to his pocket and he pulled the device out. She was still reading the menu when she heard the scrape of his chair pull back. She looked up at him and there was a grim look on his face. He told everyone he’d be back and took his call outside. No one thought much of the incident and resumed the liveliness.
Ten minutes passed, and the waiter took their orders before he came back in with his eyebrows furrowed and a grimace on his lips. Concern immediately welled up in her and she tilted her head in question. “Can you come outside for a second?” he asked her. She nodded, got up, and left with him. The others watched the pair leave the restaurant in confusion.
He led her to his car and asked her to sit inside. She obliged, still puzzled at what could have happened in that short time. He turned to her with a hard look on his face. He opened his mouth but paused as if the words refused to come out. He tried again, more successful this time. “You know how much you mean to me,” he started, “but I haven’t been telling you the complete truth.”
And so he told her the truth. The truth about the other woman. The secrets he had been keeping from her – that the secret moments that they shared, he had shared with someone else simultaneously. The long nights, the phone calls, the sweet nothings exchanged between them, everything they shared together, he had done them the same with her.
She called him that night and demanded him to choose between the two or she would reveal what they had been doing. She told him she didn’t want to be the other woman anymore. So he was forced, he said, to come out and explain what happened.
She didn’t remember when she started looking at the floor. His words pierced her skin, burning her with every syllable, every revelation, every connection she made between their interactions. She should have seen the signs. She should have known. But she was oblivious, just falling deeper for the one that wasn’t even hers to begin with. The world started going blurry and she blinked rapidly at the ground, but to no avail. Her tears streamed down her face, feeling the pain of his betrayal somewhere deep within her chest. She was not special, she was not the one he cherished, she was not the only one.
That night, she didn’t say anything to him. What could she do? She was a coward and she loved him too much. Their friends came out to talk to both of them, some consoling her and others yelling at him when they found out. She brushed away their concerns like she brushed away her tears and plastered a smile on her face again, pushing them to all go inside again. Reluctantly, everyone followed her in.
She took her seat again, next to his side. She didn’t look at him, she couldn’t dare look at him with the twisting pit in her stomach. Her heart beat painfully. The dinner finished in false pretenses of smiles and small-talk, her pitching in more enthusiastically than ever as she refused to pay attention to the torment his deafening silence created in her. She was a mess, but she didn’t dare show it to him.
They all walked out, chiming their goodbyes as each approached their car. They all glanced at her, and she beamed back with a radiant smile. His car was next to hers, so he walked alongside her till they both reached the middle. As he faced her, the guilt swirling in his eyes stung her again. After a brief silence, they exchanged their goodbyes with a wave instead of what once was a hug before that night.
She sat in her car, holding her breath, and watched him drive away. As she soon followed suit, she finally allowed the floodgates to burst open. The emotions building inside of her erupted, and she let the sobs shake her body. Through that night, she cried and cried until she choked on the salty water; she cried until she felt like her chest was splitting open.
To this day, she never forgot that night. Because during that night, when she lost him, she ended up losing a part of herself too.