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How to Excel at Make-Believing

“How much longer before we can eat? The pizza is getting cold,” I muttered, hoping she’d notice my growing irritation. She didn’t. I wasn’t surprised.

“I’m almost done. Two minutes tops. I have to get this selfie right. This light is too good to pass up,” she said as she stood by the kitchen window, holding her iPhone and making a kissing gesture which emphasized her high cheekbones.

Sarah was right. The light was too good to pass up. I sat at the table, the boxed pizza right under my nose, and looked at her. The last rays of sunlight rested on her mahogany-colored hair and on her tan skin, making her seem like a mythical creature, rather than my wife. But this wasn’t my wife; this wasn’t the woman I fell in love with four years ago. This self-absorbed woman was a stranger.

I glanced away, feeling tender tears form at the edges of my eyes. I quickly wiped them away. There was no point any longer. When did I stop loving her? How could I have stopped loving her? Her, Sarah, the love of my life? My life partner with whom I had planned to raise a family and grow older? More tears came, and it was getting harder to wipe away the evidence. I didn’t know what had broken me more: seeing this beautiful and now empty woman, my woman, take more selfies, oblivious to my shuttered inner world, or the fact that I had stopped loving her, despite my struggles not to?

Time changes us all. Time had changed me. Time had changed Sarah. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that people change. Why did she have to change? Why couldn’t she have stayed my Sarah forever? Nobody warned me about this. Do all people pretend to be happy? Do all of the couples, out there, pretend to be happy, or is it only us? Did she also stop loving me? Did she ever even love me? Looking at this woman, who only cared about presenting a perfect image of herself, of our lives, in the sugar-coding digital world of Facebook and Instagram, I found it hard to believe. She took for herself all the love she once had for me. In Sarah’s world, there wasn’t a place for me. Not anymore. As long as I followed her rules, she enabled me to remain in the game we both had been playing – our make-believe life together. Loving a person isn’t always enough, I realized.

“Mmm, smells heavenly,” Sarah said and sat down at the table, facing me. “Let’s eat, sweetie, before it gets too cold.”

Too late. The pizza. Us. The corruption our lies had engraved in us was far too deep. There was nothing left to salvage. I had completely lost my appetite.

“Bon appétit,” Sarah said without so much as looking at me.

“Bon appétit,” I answered.

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