break my heart again a short story

Break My Heart Again: A Short Story

After, they’re lying in the bed naked, tangled in the sheets and each other. She’s perfectly content to spend a lifetime like this, right there, inhaling him. She looks up and sees a wistful little smile on his face. 

What are you smiling about?

You, he says immediately, and even after months of this, it still makes her heart tremble. Imagine us, old and grey on our porch, reading together. 

She smiles with him. It’s so easy for him to talk about the future, and it puts her at ease that he can see it so clearly. 

We’re reading, he continues, and our grandchildren are playing in the backyard. We read them stories and you make them cookies, and I teach them soccer. 

Somewhere in her mind, that perfect image shatters. She can almost hear it. Her eyes widen and a breath escapes her. He stills for a moment, but then presses a kiss to her forehead, ready to continue his story. She rises from the warm crook of his neck in time to see his smile slip. She doesn’t want to be near him now. 


He pushes himself up on his elbows and tries to sound casual about it. I just thought– 

Is that how you see our future?

Would it be so bad?, he asks, his cheeks burning that shade of red she often found adorable. 

She gets up and starts collecting her clothes, strewn about the room. She starts pulling her underwear on, yanking at the material. He sits up and looks at her, eyes wide in alarm. It’s like their personal minefield, this conversation. 

No, but that isn’t my future. It’s yours. I’m not just going to wake up one day and change my mind, that’s not how this works, she clasps her bra and pulls her hair into a bun, eyes scanning the floor for a hair tie. 

I mean, not right now, of course. But you’re still young and- 

Her eyes immediately flick to his and her mouth falls open, her heart thunders in her chest and she can hardly breathe. Her eyes fill with tears – why do arguments always make her cry? 

No, she says, almost a whisper. This is not just some whim. I’m not a child. Don’t patronize me, just… don’t.

Finally, her eyes snag on a pink scrunchy and she bends down to pick it up. She needs the reprieve. Through the window, the day is bright, sunny, happy. And just a few moments ago, so were they. In his arms, skin to skin, her own paradise. But now it’s all broken and their change in mood has brought thunderclouds in. They loom over their heads now, threatening to break everything apart. 

She takes a deep breath and wipes her face before turning around. He’s standing now, hands on his hips, a storm brewing in his eyes. 

Well did you think that I would change my mind? 

She frowns. Don’t put this on me, I was honest from the start, I told you that I wouldn’t want that, that if I’m not enough for you, then this can’t work. 

They both deflate. All air vanishes from the room. They’re on the opposite sides now, staring each other down. She sees it before he even thinks it, the change of his posture, the change in his eyes. He wants to end this argument, to sweep it under the bed.

Let’s not talk about this now. Come here, he says, spreading his arms wide. She wants to run to him and run away from him at the same time. 

But she just stands there, trapped in the moment, her chest burning. His face cracks, it’s almost like porcelain. He takes a step towards her. She’s frozen, unmoving, falling into herself. 

She can see the heartbreak in his eyes. 

He whispers her name, and crosses the distance between them. His palms land on her shoulders, and he scans her face. She looks up at him. 

They’re close enough to share a breath, but there’s a thousand miles between them now. A chasm, swallowing all the sunlight, all things good in the world. What she sees in his eyes reflects what’s in her heart. They both know it. A tear slides down his cheek, making its way through the stubble. Another one follows. 

She’ll never be enough for him, she knows this. And so does he. 

But when he presses a kiss on her lips, she melts into him at once. She lets him take her in his arms, his body pressed close to hers. It’s not like before – it’s not tender or gentle. It’s fire and ice, and bits of broken glass wherever they touch. Her face is wet with his and her tears.

They burn together, bleed together, as if it’s the last time they’ll ever get to hold each other. Because it might be.


It was the beginning of the end. 

She notices now, how his eyes catch on families playing in the park. How his attention slips whenever he sees a father with a baby in the stroller. Was it always like this? Was she just blind to it before? 

It gnaws at her, eats at her happiness a bit at a time. She wants to be that person for him, so badly that she tries to imagine it. Having kids, getting married. She tries to look at those families and see what he sees. But it feels so strange to her, as if she’s someone else in those fantasies. She can’t quite see her own face. 

She can see him, though. Clear as day. She sees him in every father playing soccer with his kids in the park, wiping ice cream off their child’s face, placing a protective hand over his partner’s growing belly. 

He’s meant for it. He’ll be great at it, she knows. 

But no matter how hard she tries, how much she loves him, she can’t see herself being that person for him. It breaks her heart, little by little. 

In moments of insanity, she doesn’t care. She wants to keep him for as long as she can. He’s still young. He can have kids when he’s forty and she can have him until then. She kisses him harder then, cuddles closer, reminds him why he should want her. Why he should keep her for a little longer. 

She loves him so much that she’ll be anything for him. Whatever he needs, whatever he wants. And sometimes, he seems just as eager to will it into being, this vague idea of them in the future. He looks happy, but it’s not the same kind of happiness they used to share. It’s forced, a façade. 

She can see the cracks growing. 

He needs to be able to imagine the future. To see his future children with her eyes, or her lips. But she took that away from him. And now they’re walking a tightrope. 

They don’t talk about the future anymore.

In June, his sister sends an invitation for her wedding. It’s next spring. They both smile but neither mentions going together. He takes the invitation with him, to his apartment, and she’s glad for it. Because she saw him gazing wistfully when it was plastered to her fridge and she can’t bear that gaze, the future in his eyes that she doesn’t belong in.

In July, they see each other only five times. He says he’s busy with work, and she pretends to believe him. She says she’s studying for her exams, and he pretends to believe her. 

She’s relieved, and angry, and sad, and broken, all at the same time. The end is coming, she knows, but she bargains with herself. 

He’s just working, that’s why he can’t come.

We’re perfectly fine.

You can have kids, it’s no big deal. You love kids. 

… Maybe we can adopt, that might work. 

Some days, she wakes up happy and determined to make it work. She goes to a playground and watches kids play, their moms trailing them. 

Look, they’re happy, you can be happy too.

But it rings hollow, empty, meaningless. She wouldn’t be happy. 

They don’t talk anymore. When he comes over, it’s teeth digging into the flesh of her lips and her nails on his back. They’re naked before either can say anything, before the cracks in them burst open. They slap their bodies and pleasure against them like putty, trying to mend what is already beyond repair. 

He doesn’t stay long after it. If they fall asleep, he’s gone before she wakes up, his smell and a note on his pillow the only things remaining. Sometimes she pretends to sleep. Sometimes she lets him lie to her that he has to work and lets him leave. 

It’s a relief when he’s gone. It’s the most exquisite agony. 

Then she gets angry at life for doing this, for shoving them together, for putting them through this. 

Finally, her anger fizzles out, and she’s left empty. 

She spends most of August sleeping. It’s easier than fighting herself, and him, and the world. But even in her dreams, he’s far away, and she can’t reach him. 

He comes over one day. The moment she opens the door, she can see it in his eyes. So she presses a kiss to his lips immediately, before he can speak, before he even enters her apartment. He’s confused for a moment, but then he melts into it. He enters, and closes the door, all the while kissing her. His hands cup her cheeks, then roam through her hair, slide down her sides.

Like he’s memorizing her. And it hurts, and it’s magnificent, and it’s agony. 

She touches him too, wherever she can. It’s gentle and urgent at the same time. 

When it’s over, he sits on the edge of her bed, elbows on his knees, eyes trained on his fingers. 

I can’t do this anymore, he says, and she feels nothing. 

I know, she says, and sits up. 

He looks at her and she sees his heart breaking like it’s on a big screen. But then he looks away. 

It’s not that I don’t love you, you know, it’s just-

Not enough, she finishes for him and he looks at her, so used to rebuffing her, cutting that argument. But he doesn’t, not this time. He looks down again and shakes his head. 

I thought you’d be angry. 

She exhales. I am. I was. 

He nods. 

Suddenly, she feels too naked for this, too exposed. He seems to read her mind because he pulls on his underwear and pushes his fingers through his hair. He grabs his t-shirt and pulls it on. She takes her robe and wraps it tightly around herself. 

Once he’s dressed, they just stand there, staring at each other. Neither says anything. His gaze drops first, and then he’s gone. But she hears something thud against the door, and she knows he’s still there. 

She goes to the door, and caresses the wood gently, where she thinks his body is. It’s almost warm. Then she presses her forehead against it. For a few moments, it’s just them, just them, just them. 

Then the weight lifts off the door and she hears his steps retreat through the hallway. The moment he’s gone, it’s like someone cuts a tight string, and she shatters to the floor. 


The offer to transfer to London comes in late September. It’s the first time she genuinely smiles in weeks. London. It was her dream for such a long time, it’s so etched into her bones to want it, that she doesn’t understand why she doesn’t reply immediately. But she keeps it open on her laptop screen for days, and it makes her happy every time she looks at it. 

These past few weeks, she avoided any places where he might be. His favorite bars, shops, parks, bookstores. Even though they were her favorite too, they were her places too. She let him take custody of them. 

Ironically, it’s her apartment that was his the most. His smell, his taste, was burned into her sheets, her walls. She couldn’t wash it away. 

And it wasn’t just him, it was her happiness too. The bed where they spent days and nights tangled in each other. The shower they shared. His silhouette in front of the fridge, late at night. His smile while he made them their morning coffee. 

She wanted to leave it, but she didn’t want to leave it. It was all she had left of him. 

And even if she moved away, and someone else took her place, they’d still be able to feel slivers of her memories dance around that stupid apartment for years and years. 

One day, she took the bus across town to a bookstore. There was one closer, a walking distance really, but it was his and she didn’t want to run into him. 

But apparently, he had the same idea, because she could see him through the window. He was standing in front of the long row of books, chatting with a woman – smiling. Happy. 

Without her. 

Their eyes met for a moment, just a slip really, and his smile vanished. His lips parted as if he’d say something, but she ran in the other direction. 

She walked back to her apartment. She kept checking her phone. By the time she was home, her legs were aching. She sat in front of her computer and checked her phone again. No calls, no messages. 

That was the night she accepted to transfer to London. 

Author’s Note

Thank you for reading! This short story was originally meant to be a full novel or at least a novella, but I liked it in this format, so I left it as it is. It was inspired, in part, by songs Break My Heart Again by Finneas (hence the title) and Arcade by Duncan Laurence. It’s also meant to have a part two, where these two characters meet again a few decades later, but maybe I’ll post that another time? Anyway, if you want to read more of my stories, you can do that here.

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