She remembered clearly that moment when he had at last surrendered to her.  So much motion without action, for so long.  She had thought herself to be beyond all that, a grown woman who knew how the world worked.  “Are you ready for this?”  she had asked, but it seemed silly.  Why wouldn’t he be?  They’d been playing at it for ages, the frustration building steadily.  And he was older, but still he stammered and rambled like a teenage boy.  She hadn’t seen a man so nervous in quite a while, and it was as amusing as it was endearing.  He would have kept going, had she not stopped him with a kiss.

Lovemaking with him had always been that way–soft, playful, passionate.  In those dear moments, she felt like he would never let go of her.  It didn’t make sense.  They shouldn’t have been more than friends, yet they really always had been.  Always there had been something more, and trying to be just friends had proved difficult.  Now the line was even more blurred, with nights spent snuggled together talking over tv, making out on the couch, waking up together and talking philosophy in the sun’s first light.  It was everything it should have been, and everything it needed to be.  It was more than just friends or an “arrangement”, but nothing too serious.  It was more than they needed it to be, but less than they wanted.  They danced about it like children, fumbling around in the dark and learning lessons that wouldn’t be appreciated until much later.

Now, it was finally over, and he was gone.  She knew this day would come, had dreaded it, and couldn’t even bring herself to really say goodbye.  She’d hugged him last like she would see him again next week, and wouldn’t allow any dangerous words to escape her lips.  He did the same.  A hug because it would be a while before he saw her again, and though they both knew that was more of an if than a when, they knew better than to speak it.  And though they’d never called it love, she still couldn’t hide the pain in her eyes, and he looked away–not with guilt, but respectfully.

Had it really been love?  She wouldn’t admit it to herself, and was afraid she was reading too much into it.  But she knew different.  They had always spoke a language unheard, the kind that lovers often used, and her guesses had never been wrong.  He was just as aware of it, and they had even been known to use such glances on purpose when words failed them.  So many confessions, apologies, flirtations, and shows of tenderness, all without words.

She thought back to his nervousness, his gentleness, how he spoke as if he would always be there, though their time had been measured from the very start.  What could it have been if not love?  The first night, she laid her head on his shoulder, and he brushed her hair from her face, kissed her gently.  The night they were both too tired for sex and just watched tv instead–but as she undressed for bed, he could not help but to scoop her up in his arms, unfasten her bra, take her breast into his mouth with a passionate kiss that made them both wish they weren’t so tired.  The morning she tried clumsily to turn him on, so he took over, speaking gently to her and holding her so completely.  And every single time they giggled together at a moment of clumsiness and sometimes for no reason at all.  It had just been so much fun, so comfortable and easy, unlike anything she’d ever experienced before.  

She wanted to call it love, but she wouldn’t allow it. And maybe that’s why it collapsed.