I knew that the video call was the beginning of the end. I should have just left him right then and there. I don't believe in regrets, that life should be lived without them. How I regret not taking a decisive action back then, when I knew that my relationship with him was truly over.
It was the voice of a sobbing young woman that woke me up from my deep slumber. I remember looking at the digital clock on the nightstand. It was 4:22 AM. At first, I didn't know what to think of the whole situation. I was groggy, my vision was blurry. The bedroom and the office doors were both left open and I could see him sitting at his desk in front of the bright monitor. When I was finally aware that I had awoken, I just lay there listening to the conversation between him and the live feed of the mysterious young woman on the monitor.
For the most part, the young woman dominated the conversation. I couldn't make out what was being said because there was a good distance between the rooms. But the tone of the conversation was clear. After a while, it became predictably rhythmic. A somewhat apologetic cry from the young woman, then came her sniffling followed by Stane's deep voice inching out words before the pattern repeated itself. It hit me after a while: it was Stane's estranged daughter.
I didn't have the strength, but most importantly, I didn't have the courage to get out of the bed and walk into the office. It had been a while since I felt such abandonment for I knew what was to come. I tried to justify a happier alternative because I was young back then. So full of hope. So full of self doubt. Because life shouldn't be easy, should it? Even when situations are self-imposed. Love is worth the sacrifice, is it not?
For the next couple of hours, I drifted in and out of consciousness and whenever I blanked out, it felt like I was dead. Every time I found myself suddenly listening to the discussion from the other room, a fresh sense of dread came over me. It was as if I kept being resuscitated, only to be killed off again. I remember telling myself that there had to be a point to the recurring anguish.
Time seemed to be moving ever so slowly but suddenly, it was quiet. The morning sun had lit up the room. I didn't see him walk in but soon, I saw Stane standing next to the bed. He noticed that I was awake. I had a blank look on my face.
"You okay?" I asked. "Is everything alright?"
"My daughter just called me," Stane responded. "We've been talking these last couple of hours."
"Yeah, she finally made contact after all these years."
"Is she alright?"
"Yeah, she finally realized that she had been living with the wrong side of the family."
"Oh. Is everything going to be okay, with us?" I asked him. I know now that it was a silly question to ask Stane. I know now that I was asking myself that question.
"What do you mean?"
"Are things going to change between us?"
"No, why would it?"
I was apprehensive about Stane's response but I was relieved by it even though I knew better. Stane wouldn't have been able to answer that question correctly and I... I just wanted to be proven wrong.