“Stop sulking!” He yells from the hallway, his British accent making the exclamation more ostentatious that it should have been. “I’m not!” I sternly yelled back as I poignantly dragged my high-top Chuck Taylors across the living room floor. They were so dirty, they used to be white but now they were a cross between ketchup stains and mud gray; my mom had even suggested I throw them out. I felt the wear and tear gave the shoes more character though, I had written a quote about love and drew hearts with a red sharpie along the inner soles.
He looks at me. “You can’t lie to me, Christopher! It’s plastered all over your face!”
I force a smile.
Judging by the look he gives me with his furrowed eyebrows, I’m guessing my attempt to disguise what I was actually feeling wasn’t convincing.
He didn’t know how much this was killing me inside. How limp my body got at the thought of him leaving me again. It was a somatic ache, I wasn’t physically hurt in any way yet it felt like I had been punched repeatedly in the chest and I could barely breath. It was the worst kind of sadness. I had developed a stronger attachment to him and I wanted to tell him how much he meant to me, how he made my heart beat uncontrollably, but the only words I could utter were, “do you want coffee?”
I run to my room and grab the sharpie I used to write his name on the bottom of my shoes. I head back to him forcefully handing it over. “write something on my shoe!” I demand.
“God, you’re such a high school girl!” he says with a smirk on his face. We both find our way to the couch and sit down, I lift my right leg and rest it on his lap. “These are perfectly good shoes,” he says while he looks at the worn out converse and then finally at me. “What should I write then?” he asked.
“I don’t know, anything!” I shrug, but I didn’t want him to write just anything. I wanted him to write I love you, I care about you, I’ll miss you. I wanted him to write anything that would ease my agitated conscience and set my wavering heart to rest.
“You act like I’m never going to see you again” he mutters, while he flashes his golden eyes again in my direction. His eyes were galaxies I was more than willing to get lost in. “I’m a plane ride away! We’ll see each other sooner than you think.” He said before beginning to write.
Philadelphia Dreamin’ 01-10-2017 Aldo xxx, he inscribes.
The counteract to my California Dreamin’. Not exactly what I wanted but at this point, I didn’t care, I would have been satisfied with anything he had chosen to write. He could have written, “Aldo was here and inside you” and I still would have cherished it. How was I supposed to throw them out now? They had a piece of him written in red ink.
I walk towards the kitchen thinking he was right but still hurtfully dreading the inevitable goodbye. “Are you about to make coffee darling? Maybe we should just grab something there? It’s almost 11 anyways and we should be going.” He suggested.
Why was he in such a rush to leave me?!
I wanted him to miss his flight, I wanted him to stay, to the extent that I was even considering calling in a bomb threat.
God, was I selfish for thinking like this?
I knew he had to go back to Philadelphia, I knew he had priorities, but I couldn’t help it; I was behaving and felt like a child who didn’t get what he wanted from the candy store.
How was I supposed to tell him he meant everything to me without sounding too desperate and too needy?
I was always excited to wake up next to him, I couldn’t sleep at night because I wanted to savor every minute we had together; that and his snoring plus mouth breathing prevented me from even coming close to drifting off into a deep slumber.
We get into my car. “Are you going to make me wait in here again with the A/C off?” he says in a disgruntled tone. I had made him sit in the car a few days’ back in 75 degree California weather with the car off and windows up. He had never let a day go by since then without bringing it up and badgering me about it.
I loved him and I loved driving with him in my passenger seat, his left hand resting on my right thigh. I felt a sense of ease while I was around him. I could be myself when I was around him.
The drive to the airport was agonizing.
Why couldn’t I just tell him how much he actually meant to me?
He grabs his carryon out of the trunk of my car, the “boot” as he called it; a tan leather duffle bag which coincidently enough mirrored my skin tone, a complete 180 compared to his pasty white melanin deficient complexion. I had loaned him it since his trolley was mangled beyond repair when he first arrived.
We stare at each other.
He leans into me and kisses my lips before wrapping his arms around me followed by the tightest, most heartening hug I felt lasted for hours. A hug I wished would have lasted for hours. “I’ll see you, darling,” he says while he starts walking towards the check-in counter. I start walking towards the driver’s side of my car. “Send me our photos!” he yells while he flashes the stupid smile that captivated me from the very first day I met him two years ago. I mouth back, “No” jokingly and force him a smile while the tears start to fall. He continues to the check-in counter not looking back in my direction… I drive off, and the flood gates of my eyes open, tears falling onto the freshly written reminder I had of him, smearing the words written with a red sharpie. A new stain added to my Chuck Taylors.