She sat across the table, her fingerless-gloved hands moved back and forth from the coffee cup to the cigarette, so that the steam and smoke mingled as she brought each to her lips in succession. The pale of her face mingled with the smoke as well, her black hair melted with the dark mahogany paneling behind her seat, but, as she spoke, her eyes pierced the smoke like the pain of a sliver under a fingernail.
"It's just that, every time we were ready to make love, he'd get up and leave.
"Here I am, all ready for him, opening myself for him, showing my love the best way I know, and his reaction became more and more like an insult, like I was cheap. Like I was cheap. He was cheap to kiss and caress for hours, as if he really loved me, then to just get up and leave, as though I had jilted him. That's how I began to see it; the cruelty and bitterness of a jilted lover showed in his expression as he walked out the door, as if I were holding something from him, instead of him keeping something from me. Not that he thought of it that way. It was more frustrating that he couldn't understand he was hurting me when he did that. I suppose I was more than he bargained for, more than he was prepared to handle. Holding hands hands was more at his level. Not that I didn't give him that; it was that and much more, but no further than he wanted, frustrating my desires and my needs."
A long drag exhaled into the surrounding darkness disturbed the seance-like atmosphere of the room. She stretched back in her chair, like a cat soaking warmth from a fire, and raised her hands in a gesture of frustration.
"What could I do? Marry him, so that once that final step was taken, he could ignore me again? Or leave him, take all that I'd already struggled through and toss it?
"I couldn't take it anymore, because I'm a worthwhile person. When I'm committed, I stay committed: I don't run to another man when things don't work. I'm not a slut. But every time he got up and walked out that door, I felt like one."