Home > All Your Perfects(3)

All Your Perfects(3)
Author: Colleen Hoover

“We should probably get tested.”

Graham’s words and the fear that consumes me after he says them are cut off by the sound of Ethan’s muffled voice.

He’s walking toward the door. I turn to look at his apartment door but Graham touches my face and pulls my attention back to him.

“The worst thing we could do right now is show emotion, Quinn. Don’t get angry. Don’t cry.”

I bite my lip and nod, trying to hold back all the things I know I’m about to need to scream. “Okay,” I whisper, right as Ethan’s apartment door begins to open.

I try to hold my resolve like Graham is doing, but Ethan’s looming presence makes me nauseous. Neither of us looks at the door. Graham’s stare is hard and he’s breathing steadily as he keeps his gaze locked on mine. I can’t even imagine what Ethan will think in two seconds when he opens the door fully. He won’t recognize me at first. He’ll think we’re two random people sitting on the hallway floor of his apartment building.

“Quinn?”

I close my eyes when I hear Ethan say my name. I don’t turn toward his voice. I hear Ethan take a step out of his apartment. I can feel my heart in so many places right now, but mostly I feel it in Graham’s hands on my cheeks. Ethan says my name again, but it’s more of a command to look at him. I open my eyes, but I keep them focused on Graham.

Ethan’s door opens even wider and a girl gasps in shock. Sasha. Graham blinks, holding his eyes closed for a second longer as he inhales a calming breath. When he opens them, Sasha speaks.

“Graham?”

“Shit,” Ethan mutters.

Graham doesn’t look at them. He continues to face me. As if both of our lives aren’t falling apart around us, Graham calmly says to me, “Would you like me to walk with you downstairs?”

I nod.

“Graham!” Sasha says his name like she has a right to be angry at him for being here.

Graham and I both stand up. Neither of us look toward Ethan’s apartment. Graham has a tight grip on my hand as he leads me to the elevator.

She’s right behind us, then next to us as we wait for the elevator. She’s on the other side of Graham, pulling on his shirtsleeve. He squeezes my hand a little harder, so I squeeze his back, letting him know we can do this without a scene. Just walk onto the elevator and leave.

When the doors open, Graham ushers me on first and then he steps on. He doesn’t leave room for Sasha to step on with us. He blocks the doorway and we’re forced to face the direction of the doors. The direction of Sasha. He hits the button for the lobby and when the doors begin to close, I finally look up.

I notice two things.

1) Ethan is no longer in the hallway and his apartment door is closed.

2) Sasha is so much prettier than me. Even when she’s crying.

The doors close and it’s a long, quiet ride to the bottom. Graham doesn’t let go of my hand and we don’t speak, but we also don’t cry. We walk quietly out of the elevator and across the lobby. When we reach the door, Vincent holds it open for us, looking at us both with apology in his eyes. Graham pulls out his wallet and gives Vincent a handful of bills. “Thanks for the apartment number,” Graham says.

Vincent nods and takes the cash. When his eyes meet mine, they’re swimming in apology. I give Vincent a hug since I’ll likely never see him again.

Once Graham and I are outside, we just stand on the sidewalk, dumbfounded. I wonder if the world looks different to him now because it certainly looks different to me. The sky, the trees, the people who pass us on the sidewalk. Everything seems slightly more disappointing than it did before I walked into Ethan’s building.

“You want me to hail you a cab?” he finally says.

“I drove. That’s my car,” I say, pointing across the street.

He glances back up at the apartment building. “I want to get out of here before she makes it down.” He looks genuinely worried, like he can’t face her at all right now.

At least Sasha is trying. She followed Graham all the way to the elevator while Ethan just walked back inside his apartment and closed his door.

Graham looks back at me, his hands shoved in his jacket pockets. I wrap my coat tightly around myself. There’s not much left to say other than goodbye.

“Goodbye, Graham.”

His stare is flat, like he’s not even in this moment. He backs up a step. Two steps. Then he spins and starts walking in the other direction.

I look back at the apartment building, just as Sasha bursts through the doors. Vincent is behind her, staring at me. He waves at me, so I lift a hand and wave back to him. We both know it’s a goodbye wave, because I’m never stepping foot inside Ethan’s apartment building again. Not even for whatever stuff of mine litters his apartment. I’d rather him just throw it all away than face him again.

Sasha looks left and then right, hoping to find Graham. She doesn’t. She just finds me and it makes me wonder if she even knows who I am. Did Ethan tell her he’s supposed to get married next month? Did he tell her we just spoke on the phone this morning and he told me he’s counting down the seconds until he gets to call me his wife? Does she know when I sleep over at Ethan’s apartment that he refuses to shower without me? Did he tell her the sheets he just fucked her on were an engagement gift from my sister?

Does she know when Ethan proposed to me, he cried when I said yes?

She must not realize this or she wouldn’t have thrown away her relationship with a guy who impressed me more in one hour than Ethan did in four years.

Chapter Two

* * *

Now

Our marriage didn’t collapse. It didn’t suddenly fall apart.

It’s been a much slower process.

It’s been dwindling, if you will.

I’m not even sure who is most at fault. We started out strong. Stronger than most; I’m convinced of that. But over the course of the last several years, we’ve weakened. The most disturbing thing about it is how skilled we are at pretending nothing has changed. We don’t talk about it. We’re alike in a lot of ways, one of them being our ability to avoid the things that need the most attention.

In our defense, it’s hard to admit that a marriage might be over when the love is still there. People are led to believe that a marriage ends only when the love has been lost. When anger replaces happiness. When contempt replaces bliss. But Graham and I aren’t angry at each other. We’re just not the same people we used to be.

Sometimes when people change, it’s not always noticeable in a marriage, because the couple changes together, in the same direction. But sometimes people change in opposite directions.

I’ve been facing the opposite direction from Graham for so long, I can’t even remember what his eyes look like when he’s inside me. But I’m sure he has every strand of hair on the back of my head memorized from all the times I roll away from him at night.

People can’t always control who their circumstances turn them into.

I look down at my wedding ring and roll it with my thumb, spinning it in a continuous circle around my finger. When Graham bought it, he said the jeweler told him the wedding ring is a symbol for eternal love. An endless loop. The beginning becomes the middle and there’s never supposed to be an end.

But nowhere in that jeweler’s explanation did he say the ring symbolizes eternal happiness. Just eternal love. The problem is, love and happiness are not concordant. One can exist without the other.

I’m staring at my ring, my hand, the wooden box I’m holding, when out of nowhere, Graham says, “What are you doing?”

I lift my head slowly, completely opposite of the surprise I’m feeling at his sudden appearance in the doorway. He’s already taken off his tie and the top three buttons of his shirt are undone. He’s leaning against the doorway, his curiosity pulling his eyebrows together as he stares at me. He fills the room with his presence.

I only fill it with my absence.

After knowing him for as long as I have, there’s still a mysteriousness that surrounds him. It peeks out of his dark eyes and weighs down all the thoughts he never speaks. The quietness is what drew me to him the first day I met him. It made me feel at peace.

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