The Space Between Us

63: I Can See Us Getting There

Staring at Amelia’s name on the screen of his tablet, Lionel exhaled a quiet sigh before he dropped the hand that hovered above it back to his side. He had promised to call her. When they had spoken briefly on the phone a few days previous, he had promised that one of the first things he would do when he was more settled was to video call her, but now that the window had arrived, he couldn’t stop himself from hesitating.

Things still felt weird. Despite neither of them referencing the conversation that they had had before he’d left, the weight of it clearly rested on both of their shoulders, and it meant that all of their interactions felt stilted. Amelia was clearly waiting for a reaction from him, for him to say something that explained how he felt, or to ask if there was any chance that she could change her mind, and Lionel kept stopping himself, too scared that if he asked, and the answer was no, things between them would end. He wanted it not to matter. When Amelia had admitted that she didn’t know if she wanted to get married again, he had wanted to shrug it off, and insist that it wasn’t a big deal, but it was to him. It was a part of the future he saw for them, and he didn’t know that he could compromise on it.

Staring at the screen of his tablet for a few more minutes, he let out another sigh before he locked it and moved to settle it on the table in front of him. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to talk to her. He wanted to see her, and hear her, but he couldn’t stomach the idea of watching her fake smiles for him to pretend that she didn’t know that things weren’t quite OK.

“I thought you had a phone call”

Lionel broke his staring contest with the blanket tablet, glancing up at Sergio who had padded out of the bedroom. “Did I say that?” he asked.

“I heard you promise Amelia that you’d call today” Sergio said “I was just going to duck out to give you some privacy” he added.

Lionel nodded his head slowly as he turned back to stare at the tablet.

Sergio watched him with a frown. “You OK?” he asked.

Lionel thought about shrugging Sergio’s concern off before he exhaled another sigh, shaking his head slightly. “Me and Amelia are in kind of a weird place” he admitted “And now I am avoiding calling her because I’m not brave enough to start a conversation that could fix it, mostly because it could also end it, and that’s the last thing I want” he added.

Sergio blinked a couple of times, surprised by how easily Lionel had opened up, before he stepped across the room and sunk down onto the sofa next to him. “What happened to make things weird?” he asked.

Lionel scratched his jaw uncomfortably. “She told me that she doesn’t want to get married again” he admitted.

Sergio nodded his head slowly. “You…?” he trailed off, not quite sure what to say.

Lionel quirked a rueful smile, shaking his head slightly. “I didn’t propose” he said “We’ve not been together that long, and what happened with her ex means that things are moving really slowly between us, and I am happy with that. Her sister made some comment, and I thought it would be a good time to ask where she saw the relationship going, that’s why she said it” he explained.

“Do you want to marry her?” Sergio asked.

Lionel leant his head back, staring up at the ceiling for a moment, before he shrugged his shoulders. “We’ve not been together for that long” he mused.

“That’s not what I asked” Sergio quipped.

Lionel kept his stare on the ceiling. “I can see us getting there” he admitted after a moment “It’s a long way off, but I...It had crossed my mind a couple of times. I think she is amazing, and I want to have her in my life for as long as I can. I can see a big future with her” he added shyly.

Sergio smiled at him. “I didn’t realise that it was that serious” he chirped.

“It’s felt big from the start” Lionel admitted, turning to look at his friend “I think we’ve both known it for a while. It’s going to be slow, and cautious, but that’s not a bad thing. I like us, and I am not in a hurry to change it, but I just...I wanted to know if we were on the same page, and now I know that we’re not” he added.

“Is it really that big of a deal?” Sergio asked “I mean, you don’t have to get married to be happy” he added.

“I know” Lionel said “I just...I guess I saw it for us, and the idea that she doesn’t, it feels like a big deal to me. I know why she feels the way she does. Fernando, her ex, he did a lot of damage. Amelia loved him, and she saw everything with him, and he just...he fucked everything up, and it’s changed her and what she wants, and I get that, but I just...I don’t know” he added, shaking his head frustratedly. He couldn’t quite come up with the words to explain what he felt.

Sergio watched him for a moment before he leant forwards, picking the tablet up off of the coffee table before he deposited it into Lionel’s lap. “I think you need to decide what’s more important” he quipped “If Amelia really doesn’t want to get married, are you going to let her go? Is getting married more important to you than being with her?” he asked.

Lionel didn’t answer, staring down at the missed call notifications that had appeared on the tablet’s screen.

Sergio clapped his shoulder. “Call your girlfriend, Leo” he quipped “You clearly want to talk to her, so just talk to her. You never know, maybe you’ll figure some stuff out” he added as he pushed himself up off of the couch.

Lionel waited for the sound of the door closing before he unlocked the tablet and pressed Amelia’s name, allowing the dial tone to fill the air for a few moments before her face filled the screen. Lionel’s face lit up despite the gnawing bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, causing Amelia to smile back at him softly. “Hi” he greeted.