When you're still in love with the person you're pushing away, when he's still your best friend and she's still your's, the equation is a little different. When neither of you can think of any rational reason to not be together anymore except "this just isn't working", when there's no definitive rhythm or reason to the pain you're inviting in, you tend to act in fits and starts. You think you can phase it out, instead of cutting loose. You use terms like 'space' and 'break' and 'time', all of which really only mean that neither of you has the courage to leave.
We played this game for almost half a year, without ever really realizing it. We decided to separate one stormy January night, and somehow put off moving out till summer naughtily reminded us of the life outside our walls. I spent most nights on the couch, half-asleep and half-afraid of the darkness, the cold. Sometimes, we'd drink a little, get along a little and make the disillusioned trip back to what used to be our bedroom. Sometimes, we'd fight and argue and shout, and collapse all tangled up in each other on the couch, on the floor, on the kitchen counter. Doomed couplings, all.
I'd stare hollowly into her eyes, or cling pleadingly to the past.
She'd berate me for what was lost, or tell me she was never there.
I'd push her off midway, or stand up and walk away.
She'd tell me sorry but can we stop? I'd ask her if she was ever there.
It was never going to be me who would leave. I can still see us there, in that very same house, years and years later, our tattered robes and disheveled selves, more acquisitions to numb the numbness - a bigger TV, a colder refrigerator, a couple of children conceived in hope, raised in despair. She saw it too. It terrified her, but she had to make sure I'd be alright. So one summer morning, on our way to the station, on our way to board trains that would take us to work and blessed, temporary escape from it all, she said she might visit her parents over the weekend. I said that'd be fine. And it was.