Disappointing

He left her there, in the parking lot, in the rain, crying. He walked away just at the moment that reality set in for her. It was the moment that she realized he wasn't the man she wanted him to be and never could be. That moment tore its way deeper into his heart every minute of the short drive home. It burrowed its way into one of those deep recesses from which it will never again vacate. It would stay, just like so many other regrets, and then each time he saw a sad face or a crying woman he would be presented with these memories. He would see the fading smile, the look of realization, the travel bag falling to the wet pavement, the question begin to form in the brain and making its inevitable way to her now quivering lip. Each time it presented he would want to misremember it, to turn it into some positive experience, some epiphany of "this is the moment I learned I still loved my wife" or "this is the moment I was tested and rose to the challenge". Reality was much less glamorous. The truth was that he was a coward, too afraid to start over and too afraid to let go of the past. Worse was that he knew he was a disappointment. He had been a disappointment to his mother and to his wife of 30 years. He had come to the realization that he would do nothing but be a disappointment to this new woman as well. So it was best, for everyone, for him to stay right where he was. His wife would have someone to talk to, someone who didn't roll their eyes every time she told the story of how they became childless almost 30 years ago. She would have someone's shoulder to cry on when she woke late at night and needed comfort. She would have someone to tell that joke that she heard on daytime television. Then the heart that he had just broken, it would mend with time. She was still young and beautiful and smart. She would find someone like her, someone who made the world magical again, like she had done for him, however briefly. She would be happy and his wife would be happy and he would carry on. He would carry on.

The drive ended as he brought his car into the driveway. He unloaded the suitcase, girding himself for the next few moments, and then entered the house.

"Hey, what are you doing back so soon?" his wife asked from the kitchen.

"The deal fell through at the last minute," he offered.

"Oh how disappointing," she replied, as he wondered what the next 30 years would bring.