Weightless. Cool ocean on her back and the hot sun is warming her face, legs and arms. The woman is perfectly at peace, with no thoughts besides imperceptibly, keeping her net water lounger from drifting into the rocks or the other swimmers. The other bodies at the beach are only background noise, but it doesn't stop the thought form that she should have made better choices early in life. She could have been floating off of her own private beach instead of hearing intermittent, piercing screams from a cute, but lively little swimmer.
His face pops into her mind. She was trying to not think of him today. Obviously, too many distractions have kept her from being able to fully relax and concentrate only on herself.
Two and a half years is how long they have been friends. Friends with extra benefits. Because of him, she learned how to turn the wanting part of her feelings off... learned how to harden her heart. It was agreed upon, in the beginning, they would be only friends.
The woman tilts her head back and feels the water seep through her hair and cool her scalp. She relaxes back onto the float and smirks. Friends. She had cooked for him and washed his clothes when she let him live with her for a short time. Two weeks turned into five months when, at the same time, the pandemic happened.
He came to live with her again. This time was shorter. Knowing they agreed to only be friends with benefits, she still longed for touch. Sex is one thing, but how can he sleep next to her and not touch? He used to touch her in the beginning. He used to play and caress and kiss. Oh... the kissing.
She opens her eyes and sees she has drifted too close to the rocks. Gently and slowly, her hands drop into the water and pull her back to the middle of the ocean pool. Looking up to the sun kissed tops of the palm trees lining the shore, she wonders what he is doing today. No. She closes her eyes and reflects more on what got her here.
About halfway through the relationship/friendship, he gradually pulled away. Everything was the same though, except for the intimacy. They would fuck, but that was basically what it had turned into. There was no foreplay... no kissing, no playful touches as she passed by him, and no more catching him staring at her from afar. The magic was gone but the friendship seems to remain.
He is gone and she wonders if she made the right decision in kicking him out. Yes. Of course she did. How can she find anyone to love her how she needs if he is with her? She was convenient for him. He was someone that was enjoyable to be around; she was not alone and he took her out all of the time. But she needs to feel something... something more. The something he took away a year ago. She needs to be desired and not feel... used.
They still message each other. Almost every day he says hello. Yesterday was a bit different, and the words cross in the front of her mind.
"I have been seeing her for three weeks now."
Those written words stung. They still sting a little. Is that why he had called two weeks back and asked for help with cooking a dinner? For this other woman? He never would cook for her, even after two and a half years of 'friendship' and her cooking for him constantly.
The woman shakes the thought from her head. It doesn't matter. She always knew he would move on.
"So..." she exhales lightly. Does she remain friends with him? Is it sadistic, or the right and mature thing to do? How long do you hold onto the unraveling threads of a friendship... a relationship? Is it protecting your heart to harden it more? Or leave to protect it?
When, if ever, do you cut the strings?
The woman slides off of the float and into the ocean. Refreshing tingles all over her body wake her senses... and she knows what she needs to do.