The Art of Loneliness — a short story

Posted on 2018 January 14

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“Breaking up is hard to do.” — Neil Sedaka

“We need to talk.”

“Uh-oh.”

“I just can’t keep doing this.”

“This what?”

This! Us!”

“Sounds like you’re breaking up with me.”

“Well … I guess that’s … Yes, that’s what I’m doing.”

“Why?”

“Because, I’ve told you, I get antsy. There are things in this world I haven’t done—”

“Like, other guys.”

“That’s mean! But, well, there’s something missing…”

“Last week you were all, ‘Let’s explore emotional closeness and intimacy.’ What changed?”

“Nothing! I mean, you’re the same. It’s just that I … that I … ”

“You get bored really fast.”

“No! It’s not that. But I need more.”

“Is there something I’m not doing? Should I surprise you with concert tickets? Use handcuffs in bed?”

“That’s not it. Maybe it’s something wrong with me, but I love falling in love and don’t know how to sustain it.”

“So you’ve lost interest in us.”

“Listen, I think you’re a wonderful person, and a terrific lover, but I…”

“You need to explore the world.”

“I guess that’s it.”

“Okay … Okay, then. I’ve really enjoyed our time together, and I’ll miss you. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

“…That’s it?!? You’re not gonna argue or fight? You make it seem like I’m chopped liver.”

“Are you breaking up or fishing for compliments?”

“No, it’s just that other men would stomp their feet or yell or—”

“You have a lot of experience with this, then.”

“No! I mean, not really. But you’re making me seem like an ass.”

“Darling, I will miss you. Now, let me tell you a story. In old Japan, the Samurai soldiers had a saying — ‘The way of the warrior is death.’ Their lives belonged to their warlord, and at any time he could call on them to die in battle. Knowing this and accepting it, they lived calmly and fought bravely, unconcerned about dying.”

“Where are you going with this?”

“Well, I have my own saying — ‘The way of love is loneliness.’ I enter into a relationship knowing full well that, one way or another, it’ll end someday. One of us will leave … or, if it lasts long enough, one of us will die. So I go into it with the understanding that, in the end, I’m still alone. It clears up my mind wonderfully, and I can enjoy the relationship without worrying about whether it might fall apart. It’s liberating. It makes each day fresh. I don’t get bored.”

“That sounds … wonderful. Can you teach me more about it?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’re leaving. And I’ve already accepted that. I’ll miss you, and it’ll hurt for awhile, but I’m at peace with it. And I truly wish you happiness.”

“Well, now maybe I want you back. Maybe I’ve changed my mind.”

“I haven’t.”

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Posted in: Fiction, Humor