‘I love you.’

‘I think you mentioned.’

Why do you have to be like that? You say such sweet things, sometimes. I prefer it like that.

‘Oh don’t look at me like that; you know I love you too.’

I love how you look; curled up in my sheets, hair a mess and eyes half closed. I’ve never loved you more.

‘Turn off the light, would you?’

But I don’t want to.

‘There’s only a couple hours left.’

‘Don’t be like that. Go to sleep. I’ll be here in the morning.’

‘For how long?’

That was a mistake. Your eyes burn holes right through me when you’re angry. I want to apologise, I want to shout I’m sorry and pull time back to minute ago, when you looked so peaceful.

‘Do you really want to do this again? Now?’

‘I suppose so.’

I’ve never noticed just how brown your eyes are before.

I’ve woken you up now; no going back.

‘We’ve talked about this so damn much. Please, let’s not. It’s late, I’m tired, and I have a long day tomorrow. Please, just leave it be.’

I want to. I want to accept this, all of this. But I can’t.

‘I can’t. Do you love me so little to do this? Really?’

‘Oh my god, I cannot believe we’re having this conversation again.’

And you’re up. I can see you; all of you. I love that you sleep naked. Oh, I hate that shirt. Don’t wear that.

‘Look. I’m leaving. You have to deal with it. I thought tonight was about moving on, about accepting this. This is a big deal for me, and you can’t follow me, so please just leave it be, OK?’

‘I don’t know how.’

‘Really? Because I’ve seen your notebooks about me; all of those stories. How many times have we gotten married in your head? In your world? Isn’t that how you deal with all of this?’

‘But this is different. This isn’t next week, or next year, or someday maybe; this is tomorrow! Not even that, God, it’s 4am. This is a few hours away. It’s really happening this time.’

‘It’s always been really happening, love, couldn’t you see that?’

‘You’ve been talking about this for years. I never thought you’d really do it.’

‘We knew this wasn’t long term. Dammit, why do you have to make this a big deal? Couldn’t it just be good for what it was while it lasted? You’ve got your books for the futures you like to imagine. Leave them there.’

I can’t keep standing through all of this. I need to lie back down. The bed still smells of you.

‘I just don’t understand. This was always a one-day. It was never meant to happen.’

‘Aren’t you happy for me, though? Excited? This is such a big deal for me. I thought you knew that.’

‘I did, but I thought-‘

‘I know, love. We were never meant to fall for each other. Neither of us needed this.’

‘I think we both did.’

‘Maybe you’re right.’

‘What do I do?’

That’s right, come back to bed. You’re cold now. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

‘You’ve been single before. You’ll manage.’

Your head feels so good on my shoulder, like it’s meant to be there.

‘No, what I do when you go? I don’t know how to not be with you now.’

‘Write me a story.’

‘How could you read it?’

‘No, don’t write a story for me. Write me. Write me into a story. Give us whatever future you always wanted.’

‘You hate it when I do that.’

‘Not this time. When I go, when we’ve waved goodbye and you come back to our empty flat, write us the perfect story. Write me however you imagined, and have that be my last story. I won’t be able to read it, but you will. Write our last story.’

‘But there’s too much future we haven’t had. What should I write?’

‘Whatever makes it alright. Just write me a story.’

There’s now a sequel to this story, which you can read here – The Therapy Lessons