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[Author's Note: Given the timeliness of this story, some might find it autobiographical. It is not.]

She no longer looked new to him. Every day, he woke up and looked over, hoping to find something about her that he hadn't seen before. Every day, he was disappointed.

It was the newness that had attracted him to her, the way she changed with the breeze, how her hair was never the same smell of flowers, the varying lilt of her laughter. Where had it gone? What caused it to leave? Did she notice?

He would stare at her until she woke up, when he would smile and tell her she was beautiful to him. Every morning she smiled back and closed her eyes, and he would feel relief that she had bought his act for one more day.

The motions he went through the rest of the day seemed almost like clockwork. He would read the paper over breakfast, pack his briefcase, and go to work. Ah, work: it was his only solace most days. He worked late, and went in on weekends. He made up excuses to avoid going home. There was nothing he was more terrified of than a weekend at home.

Through it all, he wished she would leave. He wished she would decide this wasn't worth it. He wished he was free. Yet no matter what, she never did.

What could he do?

One day at lunch, he saw her at one of the restaurants he had taken her to when they were first dating. She was sitting with a man he didn't know, and began walking over to her table when he was brought up short when she leaned forward to kiss the man.

He was shocked.

But that didn't stop him from walking over to the table and demanding to know what was going on.

By midway through his shouting, he had forgotten how it began. She was crying, and he was shaking, and the man he didn't know was cowering in his chair, a cut bleeding just below his left eye. She wasy saying something through her tears.

"I fell in love with you because you were new," she said, wiping a tear away. "One day you stopped being that. I tried to smile every morning. I tried to pretend that I was still in love. But I couldn't pretend. I needed that newness, that constant change and fierce intrigue that we once had and you weren't providing. Good bye."

And she walked out of his life forever, because he wasn't what he was supposed to be, and she began to reflect him. He had smothered the newness away.

He cried as she walked away.

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