The Changelings

She could feel him changing, slipping away. He was changing, of course, but he thought that it was his own little secret. Why should she suspect anything? She was just as distant and disengaged with the relationship as he was, and just as willing to pretend that nothing was wrong.

But he was changing. Their interests no longer aligned, he made more excuses not to spend time with her. He found comfort in different friends at different bars, and less comfort in attempting to make love to someone he no longer loved.

He had loved her once; very deeply, in fact, but that was long ago in a very different time. They had grown apart—it happens; so why was it so difficult to finally break it off with her?

They stopped being lovers months ago, but their friendship deepened. She was still an important part of his life, even if he did not want to be in an amorous relationship with her. Could he live without her completely? A few months ago, he would not have believed it, but now…

Now, there was someone new whom he loved, and he wanted to be with this new love every day and night. In fact, the more time he spent with this new love, the better he felt about avoiding the old love. Perhaps it would all go away without confrontation, without guilt.

But he knew that would never happen. It would never be right. He had to face her and explain everything. She would understand, wouldn’t she? Surely, she knew that this old relationship was over, right? It would be as simple as stating the obvious, ensuring a mutual understanding, and then moving on with their respective lives.

Yet, there were tears, and accusations, and yelling, and hitting. She would not go down quietly. Deep inside, she knew this day was coming, and had already come to terms with her fate, but she would not let him go that easily. He would not leave her apartment and go back to that whore without a fight. He would not simply go to his new friends without so much as a thought for his old friends…their old friends.

She had changed, too. She would not sit back passively and let him dictate the terms. She did not even care that he was leaving, she was over that, but she would be damned if she would lose this battle.

He could not understand why there was even a battle in the first place. It seemed so obvious: they were no longer compatible, and they had new and differing interests. Why did there have to be a fight about it. He honestly thought that he could walk in and out with a mutual agreement between the two. He never suspected that she would use her tears as a weapon to make him feel guilt. He never expected her to hit him to make him feel pain.

He could see her changing, and the friend he had hoped to keep was no longer in the room. Only an adversary remained.


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