But standing here now, looking into the puppy eyes of my fiancé, I know our relationship is done. And it breaks my heart that this is where we’re left after our long history as friends and then partners.
“I don’t know where to go from here.” I feel completely defeated myself, unsure how in the world I’m supposed to get over this bombshell. “What do we say to everyone? I mean, crap, this was our engagement party!”
“I wanted to tell you sooner, to talk to you, but every time I tried, you just seemed so happy and excited for us, and I couldn’t take that away from you.” Marky starts fidgeting with his jacket button again, and I try to focus on the chaos of the moment.
“I just… I just need a minute Marky, please.”
I walk a few paces away from him, needing to wrap my head around our situation. It is one thing to have suspected Marky of being gay, but it’s another one entirely to have him openly tell me.
I wince. No, you knew, Cora. Unbeknownst to Marky, I have other, more obvious reasons to suspect he was gay, and I should have confronted him before now. This is my fault too.
Last month, a couple of days after we first got engaged, I used his laptop to try and find some childhood photos to put together a slideshow for our engagement party. It was an innocent enough mission, and I knew that Marky wouldn’t be upset at me for going onto his computer.
As I was poking around, I stumbled onto a weird folder on his desktop. The folder had a nonsensical name like “Magic Fae,” which I thought was a mistake. But when I clicked on it, there were pictures: lots of pictures. Specifically, photos of nude men in revealing poses.
At first, I was just confused. Maybe these were nude models for his artwork, since Marky likes to paint figures. But on closer inspection, I noticed that several of the pictures included seductive, ‘come hither’ looks and that a few of them were obviously screenshots from a dating app.
I snapped the folder shut and just sat there at his desk for a moment, trying to get my bearings. I tried to ignore the nagging feelings that made me question Marky’s sexual orientation. But the pictures were hard to ignore, and as I sat there, I kept seeing those images in my mind. Was Marky attracted to that?
I gulped, and then looked down at the ring on my hand. The diamond glinted at that moment, and I made a decision. It had to be a mistake. Maybe a friend had borrowed his computer and put those photos there as a prank. Or maybe, they really were nude models from the new art class he was taking.
Get real, Cora, the voice in my head said. There was a photo with two men in it, and they were kissing. Do art classes draw that?
I winced a bit, but then nodded my head. Who knows? Maybe Marky’s art class was particularly avant garde, and they were pushing the boundaries of traditional figure painting.
But now, having heard the truth directly from him, I just feel like a fool.
Embarrassed at my own naïveté, I walk back over to Marky, who is still standing there with his head in his hands.
“What do we do, Marky?” I ask in a pragmatic voice. “Clearly, our engagement is over.”
He pulls his hands from his face and it’s obvious from his damp cheeks that he’s been crying again.
“Cora, I ruined everything, and I am so sorry. I will never be able to make this up to you, I know that.” With that, Marky’s sobs become even louder and more heartfelt. I pat Marky awkwardly on the back, suddenly feeling very tired.
Through his tears, he reaches for my hands.
“Look, I promise I never meant to hurt you. And in fact, up until recently, I thought maybe I could go through with this because you are wonderful and kind. But then I couldn’t lie to myself. Not just about being gay, but about the fact that I’m in love with someone else.”
I pull my hands away from Marky. I should be in shock, but astonishingly, I’m relatively calm.
“Yes. With Brett Cunha. Honestly, I think I’ve loved him since high school when we were on the football team together. After he came out last year, we got to talking and being really good friends again. And I just, well, I found so much comfort in being able to talk to him about everything and…” Marky looks down at his feet, looking ashamed.
Well, that explains all the texting at dinner. Brett? Oh god, I called it.
Deciding to be the bigger person, I take Marky’s hand and squeeze it encouragingly.
“No, you don’t need to be ashamed about any of this. I’m just sorry things have to end this way, that’s all.” At that, Marky’s tears flow freely again and I let him cry for another moment, but I don’t know how much more I can take of this emotional rollercoaster.