“I love you, you know I love you,” he ignored her scoff, “I know I fucked up, but this honestly wasn’t about you.”
She clicked her teeth together a few times before deciding to move the conversation forwards. “Tell me one thing.”
“Of course.” His voice was just earnest enough to cover up the awkwardness of not knowing what he was required to divulge.
“What was going through your head?”
He waited, hoping that wasn’t the end of the question but it was apparent that it was his turn to speak now.
“At what point?”
“Oh fuck you!”
“No, no, no, I didn’t mean that.” He looked away and scratched his head. The peace was a fragile one, it had taken three days to reach this point. Sat quietly on opposite sides of the kitchen table. No shouting, nothing at hand to throw and so far not even any tears. As soon as he’d decided truth was the way to go he knew he couldn’t hold anything back, but that didn’t make it easier to tell.
“Nothing was going through my head. If I’d thought it through it wouldn’t have happened.”
His turn to speak didn’t seem to be over yet.
“I guess… I guess I wanted the thrill.”
There was eight years between them, Sarah had been an undergrad while James was finishing his PhD. He’d managed to sweep her off her feet before she had a chance to discover the alternative forms of education that come with student life.
“It’s been a long time since I kissed anyone but you” he tried to explain. “Years,” he quickly added. “I wasn’t looking for anyone else, I mean, I don’t want anyone else, but…”
The most difficult thing he was finding was not actually opening up but navigating the potential minefield of misspoken words. It seemed to James that everything would be OK if he could just explain his position correctly, but that every sentence had hundreds of ways of coming out wrong and only one way of coming out right.
“There’s an excitement, a thrill, when you kiss someone for the first time. It feels like an accomplishment, even if it’s one you never set out to achieve.”
He was of course mistaken but at this point in time the path to forgiveness seemed more treacherous to James than the indiscretions that led him here had been.
“It just took me back to my single days suddenly. I didn’t realise how much I missed that sensation.”
“Stop talking.” Sarah needed time to grind her teeth some more, she raised her hand to demand it.
It occurred to her that arguing about the kiss was somewhat dancing around the elephant in the room but there were too many avenues of interrogation in her head, it seemed easiest to stay on topic.
“You’re saying you miss being single?”
“No. No, hell no, that is not what I said.”
“You miss kissing other people”
“I don’t. I didn’t. It just kind of happened and it was exciting. I got carried away with it.”
“You enjoyed it though”
“At the time, I guess. Not because it was her though, I had no interest in her, I have no interest in her…”
“So you’re saying it could have been anyone?” Sarah interrupted.
“Well no. I mean, it” He stopped, realising he’d lost control of the conversation.
“We’ve been together seven years now.” James tried to take her hands before continuing but had to make do with laying his palms face up between them.
“Have you never once, even for just a moment, felt like something different?”
The mines had to be detonated, the precipice jumped off. He had decided honesty was the best policy but he was only just realising he had not been honest with himself.