Looking back at what I have written, I have apparently put an end to this madness several times over. Obviously without much success. But after today it must end.

This weekend we went hiking, you and her and other friends. At the point of my own motivational death, aggravated by and aggravating physical nausea, in my head, I cursed my weakness, my past, my future, my life. My knees buckled beneath me as strength slipped away with every labored breath. A migraine crouched threateningly at the back of my right eye. You hung back with me and urged me on: my lack of fitness more than an annoyance, your concern touching. I managed to reach the camp site, exhausted, but glad for the company, specially you.

Days earlier, despite the you-and-me scenarios that ran wild in my mind, I had told myself that this was your weekend with her, as a budding couple, or to become one, or whatever stage it was you two were trying to be towards becoming a couple. All reports confirmed your general trajectory. But as usual, my heart slipped out of sync with my head and I reverted back to imagining us and what we would do. I dared to skirt the dangerous (not that you were ever in any danger), cruel and selfish line, we flirted like we used to, and laughed easily. She was being awkward and aloof.

Overcome by my love for her (I love her more than you) at some point in the evening I lapsed back into doing the dutiful thing, pushing you to her, until you finally left me, to spend the rest of the night under the stars in sleeping bags side by side. Under the same stars, I was left alone, wrapped in a blanket of frigid wind in gusts, until I told myself to turn in and call it a night.

Unfortunately for me, the universe deemed necessary that I stand witness to what I have always claimed to know but never fully took to heart. Throughout the night, floating just beyond the thin polyester wall of my tent was your baritone whisper. You talked for hours and she listened, laughed at appropriate times and sounded sympathetic. The stories flowed out of you like rain and I was caught in the storm. Insufferable restlessness grew into a powerful gnawing need to escape, but I could not get out and walk away without being seen. Inside, I could not drown out your voice, no more than a murmur, with the cacophony of loud noises from other campers. Try as I might, I could not completely put the two of you out of focus.

I could not deny at that point how fit you were for each other, how already you two have taken to your respective molds. I felt the nausea from earlier that afternoon build up again, this time as I was climbing a mountain of heartbreak.

The night seemed endless, one of the longest I had ever experienced, sleeping and waking in fits, conscious for far greater time than unconscious. Before the trip I pictured us together, as you were with her, perhaps with less chaste, and this desire burned into the space inside my tent. Slowly and excruciatingly this illusion was stripped down by the sound of your voice mixed in with her laughter and sympathy. Resigned, I lay down with my head down the slope, away from your conversation, to look at the stars and complain about this cruelty. Exhausted once more, I felt calmer and managed a couple of hours of sleep, but only after you two tired of talking much much later.

I woke up just before sunrise and walked to sit at the side of the mountain. As the sun slowly crept up over the peak, it spilled grey dusty light over the plains below and it turned the rocky face of the cliff into varying shades between gold and red. I was suddenly reminded of that time by the river one morning after another catastrophe with A. I could not remember which chapter of my self-destruction it was but I could remember the freshness of the morning, the cold end-of-winter air and looking out at the crew team rowing in synchrony as their boat sliced through the black surface of the Charles. Just like back then I searched the purity of what was before me for something to wash away the ugly brokenness inside. Unlike back then, this time I could say, at least in the crucial moment, I did the right thing in staying away and urging you forward. In the face of the world’s raging beauty, I also searched for the resolve to end this.

From here on I cannot just feign indifference, I have to actually be indifferent. I do not think I can make myself happy for you, but I think I can keep at doing the dutiful thing for your happiness.

So this is my last letter to you. Maybe the day will come when I may have to explain myself, maybe the day will come when I will let you read this and it will help you understand what the past two years has been like. Maybe I will never have to.