Faraway, Sylvie pulled her car over and stopped.
The warm day had changed into cold night, and the wind against her face was no longer refreshing. Dark skies seem so vast, so lost in ways, even in a world that feels welcoming in the light.
Rejection. That was really all she could call it, she had decided.
She pulled out her phone. No messages. Not from Todd. Certainly not from Jean-Paul… it all was supposed to be so much fun. The lovely French lover should never have been in the middle of such a mess. And the bartender. Well, it all was the makings of a delicious romp. If only.
And it would have been. Sylvie had fueled the first hour of her drive with anger, with her fury. Todd had pushed her away so vividly, rejected her desire for him. He came close to her, his gentle stroking, his own lust apparent–then pulled back once more, as she had felt in much less obvious demonstrations for months now. But why?
It was always that, though, wasn’t it? Sylvie imagined herself rejected for all that she was, for her wanton desire–which evaporated nonetheless when she felt Todd sever the emotional connection. She imagined him needing to demonstrate that she was unworthy of his love, tempting her with the very thing that he seemed to desire most himself, degrading her, in fact. It was this, then, wasn’t it? It was her sexuality that he rejected, her sexuality, perhaps the most noble and beautiful part of her, she thought. Strong as she was, she still needed the grounding of his love, still wanted him.
It is always the wondering why that is so excruciating, Sylvie thought.
But of course, Sylvie also knew about the unmentionable, the failures in Todd’s own life. When his own business began to go badly, everything fell apart. He seemed suddenly afraid. He never said specifically that he was frightened; he wouldn’t. But Sylvie knew the facts, the figures, the late nights spent restless, the phone calls, the reality of his financial situation.
Todd could never fail her for this–in the scheme of things, his material successes never mattered so much to Sylvie. She told him she still cared, that she admired him for who he was, and not for what he could buy. But the more she tried to reassure him, the more she seemed to push him away. The band-aid of her kiss only seemed to disguise a much deeper wound, and kept it from healing.
What hurt, Sylvie suddenly thought, was Todd’s refusal to be vulnerable with her. It was a test, she decided. Great love becomes stronger when we can reveal our weakness to another, when we trust. But perhaps the wound was deeper than any trust Todd could have for Sylvie. Maybe he needed first to trust himself. He seemed to need that, needed to feel strong again in some way, too.
But not by hurting her.
Sylvie sat looking over at the faint lights, not truly so faraway, but she was lonely and tired. 9pm, her watch said. Not so late, after all. And the fact still remained that she had work the next day. She had been unfair to Jean-Paul, and had left everything in ravels. Sylvie reached for her phone.
“Yes, I’d like to make a reservation.” Sylvie started the car as she answered, “For one. Just one… Yes, one night.”