You were never going to be first. It shouldn't be a surprise. There shouldn't still be the baiting, the games, the little open ended questions that hang in the air, curled like question marks, waiting for him to pick them up and hand it back to you with a smile. You shouldn't still ache, waiting for him to say of course I'll stay, of course I'll stay, of course. Because he won't, and by now, by now you should know.

You are not quite alone, but not quite together either. Certainly, you can understand why he left that time you started to get upset, visibly upset. You can understand that a lot of guys just do not know what to do with a crying girl, and he figured maybe you were better off alone. You can understand that, of course. But can you forgive it?

You'll get your perfunctory two hours in, and when he's there, he likes to see you. It isn't that, it won't ever be that. He does like to see you. He does like you. Love you? Well, maybe, but probably not yet. And that's okay. How could you expect him to?

Well, yes he does say it. And yes, he does tell you should believe him. But does that mean you should? Maybe he believes it too, maybe when he tells you he loves you it isn't a clever phrase to pacify you, to avoid an argument, to keep you happy. Maybe he does think he means it. But does he, does he really? Probably, probably not.

That time he left you, did he mean to leave you in tears? Well, no, not really. But he just didn't want to deal with that, and you can understand that, can't you? Can't you? Of course you can. But can you forgive it?

He will always come and see you when you ask him to, when you need him to. Just don't ask him to stay longer then your time is allowed, because his phone will go off, or some internal chime will ring, and it won't matter how intricately you are entwined, you are not first and those who are are waiting for him. And you can sigh, just enough that he notices, but not enough for him to ask about it – and yet you wait, certain that one day, one day he'll ask about it. Or better yet, one day, just know – and he will turn off his phone or ignoring the silent admonishing of his friends' words echoing in his brain and maybe once, just once, climb back into bed with you.

You were never going to be first; you will never be first. Sometimes he comes in, all excited to see you, his arms wrapped around you. And you inhale the sight of him like you would a breathe of fresh air, and you feel better. And sometimes he is like a little puppy, his eyes bright and his smile mischievous and quick. And you will know that for once, just once, he is really with you.

But sometimes he comes in and he stares off into space. But sometimes he comes in and his hands are constantly in his pockets, checking his phone. And you know, you know, that he isn't really there. Oh, he'll kiss you and smile at you and yes he's glad to see you. But you are just a bridge to them, and you know it right then. And maybe it hurts and maybe you feel more unimportant then you've ever felt. But maybe that's what you signed up for, and maybe no one wants to hear your complaints.

You were never going to be first and you knew that when you went into this. Yes, he was trying to win his way into your good graces, trying to wiggle his way into your heart and apparently he succeeded. So what if you believed those things he whispered when you first were together? It wasn't as if he didn't mean them, then. He did. But now, just now, well, his phone is ringing and your time is almost up, you see. So could we talk about this later?

And oh, fine, if you really want I'll stay. And you rush to say no, don't worry about it – because what else, what else could you possibly say? You could make him stay – but that isn't quite the same and you know it. You want him to want to stay with you, to not have it be such an obligation. You know what will happen if he stays because you ask him to. You know he will just pout – not enough, not enough for you to call him on it, but enough for it to settle on your heart.

But sometimes you can't help it, and you do, you come right out and ask him to stay. And sometimes he does – but sometimes he still goes and it's times like these that put you in your place. You float along, for several weeks, a few days, happy and confident in the two of you. And then you ask him – you just can't help yourself, help the way the plea bursts from your lips, bubbles out of you and you cringe as you do it, because you hear the desperation and neediness and ugh, clinginess in your voice – and you wait, you wait, just to be first, just once. And you see the look in his eyes and you know it doesn't matter that you asked, that you cringed as you did, that you hate yourself for being so clingy. It doesn't matter, because your time is up, and they are waiting for him. There is a brief kiss on the forehead, a reassuring smile, a stroke of on the cheek, and he's gone, because your time is up, sweetheart.

But you can understand that, can't you? Of course you can. You were never going to be first, and you understand that, don't you? Of course you do. You knew this going into it. And you are understand that, of course you do. But can you forgive it?