She had always called him her ‘Little Boy’. He was never able to decide if that was touching display of her affection or a demeaning insult to his maturity. It didn’t really matter now though, did it?
So… her birthday then. What is an appropriate present to give someone you’re still desperately in love with, but who no longer loves you? Bath salts? No, too many naked connotations, she wouldn’t be happy with that. Artwork? No, too… relationship-y and expensive. Not that he minded the expense of course, but there are connotations with spending vast quantities of money on someone you’re not allowed to be in love with any more. It sort of says that you’re still in love with them, and he mustn’t be. A book then. There are no connotations to a book. Well, there are obviously some connotations, but nothing that suggests he still wants to have sex with her, and nothing that suggests that he cannot imagine his life without her. A book: pretty harmless. Never gives anything away.
That is to say it shouldn’t give anything away.
But he would have to inscribe it, wouldn’t he? He couldn’t just give a book and leave it blank. That is simply bad form and will not stand. What to write, though? How could he convey his feelings delicately? He wanted something moving yet subtle. Something with a subtext of a love that would endure, even if hers hadn’t.
Was that even possible? And would it make a difference? Would she read it and suddenly, horrified, realise her mistake? Realise that their years of growing up together had given them an unbreakable bond that she had been callous to discard? He didn’t know, but he wrote something he knew would speak to her. He could do nothing more.
‘From “Little Boy” with the curly hair and the broken heart, Summer 1933’