Radical honesty


Kate and I had been seeing each other for a couple of months. I quite liked her, but recently I’d been starting to have some doubts. We’d stopped sleeping together so often, and although we’d been spending a lot of our spare time together either on city breaks or staying with family, it felt to me like the energy had changed and we were becoming more like friends than lovers. Relationships are built on trust and it’s vital to be honest, so I decided to tell my doubts. We’d spent the day visiting her mum Sheila in the new care home. Sheila had been there a week and was just about starting to cope. Kate had just put her son Kieron to bed and was washing up in the kitchen. I put the kettle on.

‘So it was nice today,’ I started.

She held the next plate above the sink and looked at me with those doll eyes.

‘Yeah’, she said, ‘it went ok, all things considering.’

I smiled back.

‘The thing is though’, I carried on, ‘I haven’t really been feeling it recently.’

She paused again. The doll eyes had gone, replaced with a puzzled look.

‘Feeling what?’ she replied.

‘Well, I mean… Things are lovely and everything’ I smiled back but for some reason couldn’t quite meet her eyes, ‘But it just feels, you know. I don’t know…’ It had seemed so clear earlier but now the words seemed to be getting stuck. I wanted her to say something to acknowledge it too, but she was silent and still. Waiting. I breathed into my shoulders. ‘I just want to be honest with you’

‘I thought you were happy’ I was grateful for her interruption so I could have a second to think, but the sharpness of her words made my head go blank.

‘I am happy,’ she didn’t seem grateful that I’d brought this up, ‘But I’m just not sure about ‘us’ at the moment’

‘Why not?’ her words sounded more like a death sentence than a question.

I hesitated.

‘Well… We haven’t been as physical recently…’

‘My mum has just gone into a care home,’ she slammed the plate into the sink and a muffled ‘chink’ noise signalled that something had broken beneath the bubbles. Despite this her eyes still bore into me.

‘Yeah, I know, but we –’

‘And I’ve had to work overtime to make ends meet. ’

‘Okay, but….’ This is not going how I thought it was going to.

‘You live here rent free, I’ve got a son to support and now a care home to pay for.’

‘I thought you would be grateful I’m being honest and open.’ I tried to smile and opened my arms to let her in, but she gasped. I was in too deep to stop. Had to carry on.

‘I’m not saying I want to split up’, maybe she just needed some reassurance, ‘I just… I’m just letting you know that right now I’m not really feeling it. I probably will again, though.’ I smiled my dazzler to her, sure to get her back on board. It was getting late and this was probably best reworded on another day.

‘Well thank you very fucking much.’ She was shouting. ‘What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?’ Fair question. I hadn’t really thought of that, but then again she didn’t respond how I’d expected.

‘Right,’ I darted my eyes around the room searching for clues, anything to get me out of this hole. Nothing. I glanced up at her, ‘I’ll make up the spare bed again.’ Before she had the chance to lash out I retreated upstairs as quick as my legs could take me. It was safer in the spare room. It always was.


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