“Has he ever said, ‘I love you?’”
“No.” An indifferent shrug. That question seemed to nag at everyone else; it wasn’t the first time it had come up in conversation. “But, he doesn’t have to.”
“It doesn’t bother you?”
Again: “No.” And, again, a shrug. “They’re just words.”
“But they’re words you’re supposed to say, when you feel that way.”
A chuckle, but without mirth. “The last time he said those words were to his wife.” A quick shake of the head loosed the congealing doubts, like marbles startled in a jar. “I don’t think he’ll ever say them to anyone again.”
“What about you? Have you ever told him?”
A pause, now, to consider that: the step not taken, for both their fears. Then, another, slower shake. “It wouldn’t change anything. He’d still be who he is. We’d still be where we are.”
It was a guess. A good one, more accurate than not, come through a witting, impish smile.
It would have been nice to smile back. But it wouldn’t have been true. So, with a stilted, breaking breath, the muttered honest answer:
My brain is such a mess at the moment, this sort of melancholy piece is all I can get out, right now.
I hope you all are doing all right, out there!