Brooks tries to let Des down gently, but it still comes like a punch to the gut.
Desiree: When you're away from me, do you feel like we lose it? Because I don't. [Her voice breaks] I miss you every day.
Brooks: I feel like I do. I feel like I lose it. And that's why...
Desiree: How do you really feel?
Brooks: You know, I really want to be madly in love with you, you know?
That's when she knows for sure that it's over, and that sinking feeling she no doubt had in her stomach hits the bottom of her soul with a sickening thud. "Why are you crying?" he murmurs. "Because I know what you're going to say," she whispers back, wiping away tears. "Why now?" Well, dear girl, it's because he can no longer deny the hard truth: "I don't feel it." Des then does what many of us who've been blindsided by a breakup have done before: She tries to curl up into a ball and die. "Why?" she sobs, burying her face in her knees. And there's no comforting her. "Stop it!" she moans, when Brooks tentatively puts his arm around her. When she finally looks up, the two have their most heartbreaking exchange yet.
Desiree: I don't know what to say. I love you. I do. You're the only one I can say that –
Brooks: [groaning] Why didn't you tell me that earlier?
Desiree: I can't!
Brooks: You can say anything you want!
Desiree: I told you, and I was going to tell you today. I told you I was running, and then after that I knew I was at the finish line.
Brooks' question is an odd one. If he knows for sure that he'll never love Des enough to marry her, why would it have mattered if she had confessed her love to him earlier? Maybe it would have made it easier for him to lie to himself for a little longer, and then they could have broken up later off camera, like normal people. Anyhow, by the time we're back from commercial break, Des has moved from denial to anger -- especially when Brooks says that they both want the same thing, to be madly in love with someone and to have them love you back. "Exactly," Des says drily. "I mean, I know what it feels like. Guess I just don't know what it feels like to be reciprocated. I never have. That's what f---ing sucks... It just sucks that I loved you. I do love you, regardless. I do. I can say it -- I don't care. I don't care that you just broke my heart," she continues with a bitter sigh and a joyless smile. "I love you." What else can Brooks say but sorry, sorry, sorry? Nothing. And so he sits on the bench holding Des in his arms as she covers her face in her hands and cries.
NEXT: The long goodbye