Most of the malice was gone by now.  It had been replaced by an overwhelming sense of injustice.  The ultimate blow to the ego: “It’s not you, it’s me,” excepting “me” meant him wanting to date someone else.

And the lack of ceremony.  The lack of grace.  His false sense of altruism.  Every justification on his part, desperately trying to prove himself right at the expense of her sense of self, nullifying her existence.

She sat in the red VW bus, absent-mindedly fondling chess pieces.  She needed a moment to herself before rejoining the party.  This bus had been their battleground.  And somehow, she had surrendered.

She never really liked playing chess–her participation in the games was a concession in and of itself.  It was surprisingly neutral territory.  She would study strategies online, long after he had gone to sleep.  Sitting on the cold tile of the bathroom, she would immerse herself in the blue numbness of the laptop’s glow.

She was too smart for him.  That had been the problem.  She had succeeded in dumbing herself down a few notches.  And while it had seemed reasonable enough at the time, she should have known that act, that lessening of herself was on par with raising the white flag.  She had unwittingly surrendered months ago.

And now, a birthday party.  Good friends, good music, fresh crab.  She would survive the night.  She checked her makeup in the rearview mirror and exited her confessional for the night.