By David Olsen
She hadn’t cared about him for a long time and he was absolutely fine with that. He just wished that they could both stop lying about it. Every time that she used the word ‘love’ she did so with a look of forlorn hopelessness in her eyes. It was a look that said that what was being spoken should never be heard and that what was unspoken was tearing her apart. Julian understood. He knew the truth of it all, better even than Eileen thought he did.
Lovelessness wasn’t meant for the young and yet here they were. The feelings and reservations that were and that had always been were too strong and he was worn out from struggling against them for so long. However, unlike the legend of Sisyphus and his rolling stone, Julian could abandon his daily toil. So, on that cold Thursday morning in December, Julian walked away; from Eileen, his job, his family and everything else that had vexed him for as long as he could remember.
Julian had been satisfied that if he made a clean break with everything and everyone and every place that he knew, the issues that he had attached to them for so long would be left behind too. If only life’s troubles could be as simple as a one-off process of detachment, Julian thought, as he pondered the view from his new apartment in his new city. The rain poured down on the streets below and he stood pondering what followed next in the story of Julian; the man who had tried so hard to escape his problems that he’d simply created a whole new set of exactly the same problems in a different place.
He hated the rain. It reminded him of the place he’d left behind and its regularly soggy and somber inhabitants. Worst of all, it reminded him of Eileen. The day they had met had been a typically damp one. Eileen was bundled deeply in her soggy coat, her dark hair lank and shapeless, obviously unequipped for the downpour. Julian had stood under his oversized and gaudily patterned umbrella, a supposedly ‘amusing’ gift from his sister a few months previous, and watched her approach. How could she be from this town and yet be so unprepared for the elements, Julian had thought with a sense of comfortably dry self-righteousness. Despite this ill-fated beginning, Julian and Eileen had worked out quite well for a time. But only for a time. Good things never really last, at least Julian never believed that they did.
After a while, the feelings that they shared had evolved from like to love and back again. Neither of them voiced it, but the love didn’t last. The problems that Julian had always felt would be solved with the power of love, like so many songs before had promised him, were forever present. They lurked beneath the surface, just out of reach and obscured, but ever-threatening nonetheless. When Julian had said goodbye, Eileen had seemed surprised. Deep down she understood, he had thought to himself. She was probably just as relieved as he was, she was just better at hiding it. Either way, his choice was made.