Years ago in New York
A flash fiction story about polyamory
Years ago in New York
Years ago, miraculously, I got an offer to work at the UN. As soon as I could, I packed up my life and moved to New York. Dawson, the man I loved at the time, excelled in his duty towards me and without hesitation, embraced America. He managed to get a job at a lobbying firm not too far from our apartment. In his fervid devotion to me, a month into our New York fairy-tale, he promised me his name. It was the happiest I had ever been. I can’t pinpoint when it all went wrong.
Months of late-nights at the office, take outs and unreturned calls slipped by, and it became quite apparent that Dawson fell in love with a colleague of his, and she certainty loved him back. The passion that seized them was no ordinary vice. He came alive like I’d not seen for years, not since he first fell in love with me. It is both beautiful and devastating to watch the one you love in ecstasy, and know it’s not because of you. It was immediate that they’d discovered their love for each other, momentarily euphoric, then lost in dismay. They did not know how to go about his prior commitment to me.
Despite his daily mantra of how much he loved me still, my confidence in him shattered, our future crumbled, and strange new horrors plagued my mind. Jealously – the fear of desertion; anger at them – as he willingly surrendered himself and she now possessed him; self-loathing that I was not enough; the vicious, gnawing doubt that when he held my hand, he was wishing it’d been hers; the constant panic every time his phone lit up; and paranoia when he was even ten minutes late to meet me, was it because he was with her?
I could not understand how he could love us both at the same time, as he claimed.
Yet deep down I knew that if their love was real and lasting, it was because it came to him, not because he sought it out. I could not blame him, nor her. It just broke my heart and mind. My actions betrayed me and even though I hated myself for it, I couldn’t help but wound him with my scornful, punishing words. It drove him further into her arms. I felt trapped in my own undoing. I silently withered. I knew it saddened him that I was breaking, breaking because of him. He turned bitter, he was angry at himself, but ultimately, he was helpless. The struggle continued. I grew resentful, but my love for him had not waned, if anything, it fortified. The moment you start losing something, you try to hold onto it even tighter, for fear of losing it altogether. He grew resentful too. He had a duty towards me, it tethered us together, but day by day it choked him.
What was I to do? If we were to carry on, we’d both come to hate each other to the point of annihilation. I’d rob him of his other love, and he would hold me responsible for his misery. In turn, he’d deplete my life altogether, his presence a constant reminder of his betrayal. Our love had changed beyond correction, but still so hard to let go.
Then one day, both sullen, silently burning with contempt, both drowning in love and hate for one another, I told him I was going to move back to London. Our broken fairy-tale was best left to die. Melancholy, but ultimately relieved, we were both released from each other.
Every few years he checks up on me. I read his message, I click on his icon and glance at his life. He has a charming young family in Seattle. I never reply.