“After a few days without you, I go nuts, I lose it. If one of us ever cheats, do we say so?” he asks.
“You’re so complicated,” she teases dryly.
“I’m not. I’d rather know. You’d rather not?” he asks.
“I just need you to love me. Love me. And for us both to be happy,” she responds.
“We’re happy, you think?”
“I think we’re perfectly happy. I think it’s pretty ideal, even,” she says. “Me too, then.”
Pretty ideal: for her. Later, his mistress says, “I can handle being broke, but not poor,” and later still, she surprises him with the display of a large, bright apartment being restored.
“He must love you to give you this,” he says of the other man. “This is nuts. You don’t even deny it!”
She’s Gallic savoir-faire through and through. “We’re here to have as full a life as possible.”
A man, he’s still elementally a boy: “Imagining you with another guy hurts.”
“Don’t imagine it,” she says in her raspy voice, notably off-camera, “Enjoy it when we’re together. Forget it when we’re not. When I’m with you, I want to be.”
He stares, struck. “Why are you trying to hurt me? Why do you want to hurt me?”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” she says, “I thought you’d be happy.”
The floorboards of the unfinished apartment creak. That sound is like the roar of an ice floe breaking off, small, mouse-tiny, yet it’s like the calving of a glacier. That split-second is cinema. That split-second is the rending of two hearts. Plus, the never-mastered lesson, pride kills. Or pride, at the very least, mixed with a toxic cocktail of self-pity, will make you want to harm yourself.