Friendly Advice: A Short Story

“You’re not in love Caleb. You’re just infatuated. It will pass in time, and then you will really feel like a fool.” He had been reiterating this point to me for the last half hour, but he can’t possibly understand how I actually feel.

“How do you still believe that? We have done everything possible to stay away from each other, but you can’t keep birds from flying, can you?” I really stress the punch line.

“You can if you clip their wings.” I am seething now, and I can’t tell if he is being smug or if I am just angry that he never agrees with me when it comes to my relationship with Lily. “She’s married man. If it’s the only way to keep you from letting this spiral out of control, then just think about the boy at least. This has the potential to really screw him up someday. You need to give him the best chance possible of a solid family life. What’s going to happen when he starts asking questions about who and where ‘Uncle Caleb’ really is.” We both nervously guffaw at the comment, but I know he isn’t joking around.

Damn it. Maybe he’s right, I think to myself. “It’s just so hard to stay away. Neither one of us has felt this way before.” Nathan’s face quickly assumes his trademark look that tells me he completely disagreed with my last statement. I am sure he’s thinking that she felt this way about Todd once upon a time. Todd. Her Fucking Husband. “I know what you’re thinking, man. Just come out and say it,” I jab.

“She’s married man. There had to be a reason for that. If it was just for the kid’s sake, then explain to me what is going on right now. Did she completely forget about the sacrifice she made by getting married? Twice!”

“I can’t seriously consider him Nathan. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.” I am really pleading now. “This affair feels too similar to the way I felt when we first met, and that was when they were on a break. How was I supposed to know that they would end up back together?”

“You weren’t, but sometimes life challenges us in times when it makes the least sense. I completely understand why you feel so drawn to her and how you slipped up once or twice, but my point is that you have to step up eventually and be the bigger man. You need to squash this thing. She’s broken, so she will keep coming to you so that you can temporarily mend her, but she is weaker than you are. Don’t fall for the trap in believing that you don’t have a choice if she comes to you, or if her husband fails to please her.”

“This has nothing to do with choosing! I don’t see a choice in the matter at all. If she wants me, I can’t turn my back on that. Denying myself time with her is like denying myself my favorite meal while I am dying of hunger. She is like a drink of water when I am dying of thirst. How am I supposed to deny the thing, that at times, feels like my reason for living so that someone I don’t even know can salvage a relationship with her that he abandoned after their son was born!”

Nathan stares right at me, and it seems like he doesn’t have anything to say, but he probably just thinks that I would never listen. He is right. I am all in. He just leans back on the couch. For a couple minutes, neither one of us says a thing. Nathan breaks the silence. “I bet the game’s back on.” He grabs the remote and turns on the TV. 

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