Ft. Lauderdale was baking under a yellow, dull November sun. We didn’t spend much time outside. I saw the beach from the room; there weren’t many people down there, I thought, sweating, broiling, turning to leather, probably getting skin cancer.
I took a picture of Claire, something she had once said she’d never allow, and Claire looked surprised, but said nothing. Just gave me a look, considering, her head back as she surveyed me over a long distance from those implausible Russian Jewish blue eyes. Claire had once told me all her rules about men didn’t seem to apply to me.
But I knew she was cheating on me, had confronted her, and all she would say was the others didn’t mean anything to her, not the way I did: she’d try not to do it again. But I knew she was; I knew I’d have to leave her soon to keep my sanity.
At the airport, we had separate flights, and kissed good-bye like a hundred times before. Then I turned to go and Claire hugged me from behind, holding on to me, an awkward touch that turned out to be the last one.
A week later we were talking on the phone; I don’t know how it happened, I reached a pain threshold beyond which I refused to live, and it was over. At least, I knew I’d never see her again, though she insisted I’d return. Getting over her would be harder than having the will to leave her.