“Kiss me before you go,” she breathed, barely moving her lips as she buried her head further into his chest. She hated this part. The part where she’d feel his embrace loosen as he pulled away, then took a step back. Once he did, that meant that he’d leave. And leaving came with the question she always wanted to ask afterwards. This dance they did a few times a month was becoming routine.

She’d suggest they go out. To the park, or perhaps that new sushi restaurant in town everyone was raving about. He’d agree. And then the day before, or the day of, something would come up. Car trouble. Work got crazy. His best friend needed help moving. It was always something perfectly reasonable.

“Of course, baby,” he said as he pulled away. There was the step back. She stepped forward, tilting her head up. She knew the movements by heart, now. There was the kiss. It was warm, soft, and tender. As she wrapped her arms around his waist and he gently stroked her cheek, she waited for him to end the kiss. He always ended it, first.

And there it was.

“See you later, beautiful.” And with that, he was out of her studio apartment.

She locked the door and turned around, facing her “bedroom” with disheveled sheets and the now finished bottle of cheap Cabernet. The bottle was supposed to be the B in the BYOB paint and sip event they were supposed to go to the night before. But he had a last minute schedule change at his job, so he ended up coming by around midnight. Bottle in hand, she tossed it in the trash. There was no recycling in this house. She was already dealing with enough trash turned treasure.

“You deserve better.” The thought crept into her head without warning. She paused. Then shook her head, as if she could loosen the affirmation from last night’s disappointment. “I don’t.”
After all, they were only “talking”.