IX

Parisian streets at night are magnificent. It’s like the people don’t have any concept of time, especially on weekends.

 After dancing and laughing with Alex and his family for the last several hours, I feel happier than I have felt even when I was with my ex. It’s a little sad to know that even then when I thought I was happy, I actually wasn’t really that happy to begin with. Maybe that’s why he did what he did.
I stop myself before I go down the rabbit hole and pull myself back to the now. Alex walks beside me silently, seemingly lost in thought like I was just a moment ago. “Penny for your thoughts?”

My voice seems to jolt Alex out of his head, and he turns to me and gives me a small yet somehow sad smile. I realize I’ve never seen him anything but jovial and full of life. “I was just thinking that I haven’t had a night so fun in ages. The last time I danced like that was with my ex-wife before she left me.”

Those last words have me turning my head to look at Alex. He is looking at me too with his sad smile and for the first time, under these dimly lit streetlamps, I think I see sadness in his eyes, a sadness I have seen in my own. “She left you?”

He gives a solemn nod. “I feel Sloane, that after the week, and evening we have had, I should share some of the other most important parts of me.” He shoves his hands into the pockets of his suit pants as we continue to walk down the side walk, with no destination in mind. “Last year, my ex-wife and I decided to try and start a family, we thought we were ready. After some months, with no success, she suggested we meet with a fertility doctor to get more information. It was ultimately found that the issues in our child bearing were hers.”

He pauses and takes a deep breath and I can already tell the heartbreak is coming. I don’t say anything, just continue to stare straight ahead and remain quiet while Alex shares a new part of himself with me.

“So we continued to see this doctor, who is meeting with my wife two to three times a week to help her, help us, make a baby. I’m sure you can see where this was going.”

I continue to stay silent, because I’m sure that what I’m about to hear is that Alex has gone through a similar heartbreak to my own.

“Turns out I was not only paying the good doctor to make me a baby, but to make the baby himself. And I found out in the worst possible way.”

I finally turn to look at him. “How did you find out?” I wonder if there is a worse possible way than finding out from your future spouses iPad, and I brace myself that there actually might be.

“I had gone for a consultation update and I had shown up early. I was to meet my wife there.” He looks down at the ground as he continues to talk. “Seems that whatever they had going on was secret to everyone else including the doctor’s receptionist. As I showed up, she greeted me with a smile, told me my wife was early as well and that I could go in to join them. So I went, opened the door to find my wife sprawled out across that bastard’s desk…”

Alex stops talking, and when I look at him I can tell that the memory he is recalling right now is so vivid he feels it. It’s the same way I feel whenever I think about my ex. I reach for his arm and pull it out of his pocket and hold his hand between mine. The look that passes between us is one of understanding. ‘I have felt the pain you have felt too.’

He looks at his hand in mine, and then at my face, and gives me the same pained smile. “And to think, after all of that, she beat me to the bloody divorce too. I was never so happy for my grandmother’s iron clad prenup with the rage I felt towards that woman.”

He shakes his head and turns away from me and looks up to the sky, as if to ward off any nearby tears. “Wow,” Is all I can manage at first. “How long were you married for?”

“Seven. Years.” He says this with disgust, and I cannot imagine being married to someone for seven years and my relationship ending like that. “We were together for ten.” And then he adds almost reluctantly. “She was my high school sweetheart.” I hear his voice crack on the last word.

I look away from Alex with this last confession, from the corner of my eye I see his arm reach up to his face briefly but I don’t look. I let him have this moment, as he has let me have mine times before. After a moment of silence I stop walking and turn to Alex. “Well, we cannot let the night end with that story, now we just have to do something fun.”

Alex gives a small sigh mixed with a laugh. “What did you have in mind?” He begins walking again and pulls me along with him.

I tilt my head up to the sky, tapping my finger on my chin. “Hmm… We’re near the Seine, right?”

Alex nods. “Yes. Why would you like to do a boat cruise?”

“Well I hear that it is a beautiful thing to do at night time, and we’ve never been together at night to do something like that. And, God, you just look so sad right now I cannot possibly send you home.”

Alex’s gives a laugh at my last statement, and seems to come back into the Alex that I have come to know, fun and lighthearted. “I’m sorry that I look so somber and for sobering the mood.” He removes his hand from mine and rubs it down his face.

I take his hand back as he lets it fall, stop walking once again and turn to face him. “Moods are meant to be sobered.” I pause, look down at the ground and then back up at Alex who waits patiently for whatever it is I’m about to say. “One day, when I can bear it, I will sober the mood too.”

Alex smiles at me, a real smile. “Deal.” I turn and continue our walk down the side walk until we hit the corner of a street. Alex turns towards the water and points a finger in its direction. “My parents actually have a boat docked a few blocks down. We can sail it down the Seine if you want.” I look at Alex with squinted eyes wondering which one of us is driving the boat. Alex smiles, “Don’t worry I have my boating license.” And I think to myself that there are so many things I don’t know about this beautiful man.

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