Your fingers trace my outline, tripping lightly down each rib, following the curve. We shift, roll, entangle. The summer sun filters through your eyelashes, dappling your skin with soft pebbledash. I graze your jawline as it meets your neck.
We had a window of time, limited, contained, enclosed, isolated. Kept safe. Those days were sweeter for their certainty. Nothing more could have happened; nothing less than perfect. I didn’t love you. It was better than that. Love is hurtful, damaging, ugly. Love barbs you with its poisoned thorns, altering your internal circuit board, electrifying you. Love is eternal. Even when warped and twisted beyond recognition, the intensity of the emotion you have abandoned yourself to remains.
I didn’t love you.
Time passed and leaves fell. Maybe I saw you from time to time. We remained friends, kept close by the occasional gesture, glance, shared joke. A nudge at that time when we needed each other so completely. But life gets in the way.
There was never the sting of awkwardness. We flowed easily from one chapter to the next. We enjoy each other’s company, free of tension or obligation. Gradually, we slip. We fall out of touch. It doesn’t hurt like it should. Never having asked for or expected anything at all, there are no disappointments.
You are a celluloid moment in my life, forever to be remembered. You are one of the few who didn’t, who couldn’t hurt me. When we next meet, I’ll be ecstatic to see you again. But I won’t seek you out. There’s no urge to resolve, no loose ends to be tied. Before anything began, we had both accepted that it would end. We needed no closure.
But occasionally, I will hear a song, and be back in the moment. I’ll remember.
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The apartment you lived in your first year out of school, the walk-up with a view of the street.
I wanted to quit my job. I hated my boss.
His eyes widened, he became angry, and backed off of me. I told him he could leave now. Now. He said “With you being a good Christian girl, and me studying to be a priest, I think it’s important we not tell anyone what we did.”
In a fallen world, hope, like faith, is often the hardest thing to hold onto especially when you need it the most.