You Don’t Love Me

“You don’t love me.” She sits on a padded dining chair that she has brought to the living room from the kitchen. Her arms are folded over her breasts. Her left foot bobs in the air, her legs crossed in the form she has perfected over the years to look at once the most elegant and the most impatient.

“What?” He barely glances at her. His fingers work furiously upon his game controller. She is muted, from his perspective, by the headphones that blast the games sound into his ears, at once letting him ignore her most of the time and giving him a “competitive advantage.”

“I said you don’t love me.” She is determined to push through with what she wants to say. He’s deep into his fifth hour, today, of playing this game. She’s been waiting in this chair for 25 minutes. He watched her pull it up. She wonders if he assumed she actually wanted to watch him play.

“‘Babe, give me a minute,” he says. “I’m almost through this level.”
“The game can be paused,” she says. She leans forward to look at the screen, just to be sure. No, he’s not even playing one of his online games. It’s a single-player action RPG. It’s not even online. It’s completely possible for him to pause it.

“Yeah, but I’m in the middle of a boss fight.” He’s not even looking at her as he speaks. The glow from the screen illuminates his eyes. She imagines the images flowing into his brain, nesting deep inside in a place far more important to him than she has ever been.

She closes her eyes. “You say you love me. You say the words, because I asked you to, after that first time. I felt like you didn’t say it enough. It made me feel better for a while. If you said the words, I could convince myself that maybe you actually felt it. But you don’t.”

“What are you talking about?” he asks. He’s biting his lip. His brow is furrowed. She has taken some of his concentration away from the game, but not much. It’s still his primary focus. “You know I love you.”

“I’m telling you that I know that you don’t,” she presses. “Pause the game.”

“No.” He shoots her a disgusted look. “I told you I’m in the middle of a fight.”

She stands. She had threats prepared — “If you love me, pause the game;” “If you want this relationship to continue, pause the game” — but they feel juvenile. There’s no point to making them. She has no intent to continue their relationship. She has come into this room to end it. There’s little he can do to change her mind.

He looks up as she walks away, but not long enough to matter. He continues playing. He’s still playing when she comes back downstairs, her clothes in her backpack and her toiletries in a plastic grocery bag. In his apartment, the living room and the entryway are synonymous. She stands by the door, hand resting on the handle, for a few minutes, hoping he’ll acknowledge her actions. He hasn’t even noticed her.

“I’m leaving,” she says, loudly, so that he’ll hear her over his game.
“Okay,” he says. “I’ll see you later.”

“No, you won’t.” She doesn’t say this quite loud enough. She knows, because he doesn’t give any sort of response at all. She continues on at that volume. “You never really loved me. You just said you did so that I’d have sex with you. I was always just an inconvenience, otherwise. We both knew it, but some part of me kept saying that I did love you. That wasn’t love, either. It was just… need, I guess. Goodbye.”

She was just a trophy to him, really. She was barely ever a person. They never did anything she thought was interesting. All she existed for was for him to have sex with and talk about it with his friends afterward. That wasn’t what she deserved.

“What’s that?” He finally pauses the game so that he can turn to see her. He pulls his headphones off of his ears, clearly irritated. “I can’t hear you when you’re talking from over there.”

“It’s nothing,” she says. “It’s… I’m headed back to my apartment. Goodbye.”

“Yeah, okay.” He puts the headphones back on. “See you tonight.”

She starts to say something, but she bites it back. There’s no point. If she keeps trying to push, she’ll just make herself angry, and if she’s angry she might try to fix them. That’s not going to happen. She deserves someone better. She closes the door behind her, hoping she hasn’t left anything behind, and begins the walk across campus with no further regrets than that.

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