You tuck your hair behind your ear and listen. You are orchestrating your own torture, your own heartbreak as you sit next to him and hear him marvel away at this amazing girl that is evidently not you. You have lost him forever, you tell yourself as you try to hide the swelling of tears in your eyes. You clear your throat and pretend there’s an eyelash as you rub the corner of your eyes a little too furiously. You tell him how happy you are that he’s finally found someone for himself. You leave out the most important detail: That you always thought he would be the one for you and of course, vice versa.
He can tell that something is wrong. He knows you all too well. You shift your eyes and in your head you quickly run through a series of lies you could tell. You’re worried about something that happened in school, you are having family troubles, the boy you are seeing isn’t treating you right. Since when did you have to lie to your confidant, you wonder. Your glib tongue rolls off yet another lie, another story, in an attempt to mislead him. He tries to comfort you, like he always does. He thumbs your cheek in an attempt to dry your tears, smooths your hair, wraps his arms around you and tells you that everything is going to be alright. He will always be there for you. You roll your eyes in your head as that sentence slips out of his mouth. You wish it could stay like this forever but you know it’s too always good to be true. You immerse yourself in the moment that is so rare to come by, too precious to let go.
When it is over, you can’t help but replay the moment in your head like a monotonous loop that means nothing and yet everything. Does he think of her whenever he’s with you? Does he imagine that it’s her face he’s touching, her body he’s cradling, her tears he’s drying, her mess he’s cleaning up? Does he wish that she were there instead of you? The girl he loves, and not the girl whom he is best friends with? The fact that you cannot bring yourself to answer makes you sick to the bone.
You can’t avoid him forever, yet you want to let him know that if you’re not the one he wants then he can’t have any part of you at all. It is the worst ultimatum one could ever give to anyone. It is all or nothing. You love him, you hate him, you want to be with him, you want to be rid of him. You imagine all the possibilities in your head. Him falling in love with you slowly instead of all at once like he did with her. You imagine that if he spends enough time with you, he might one day love you the same way he loves her.
But as you sit alone at home eating your last pint of Ben & Jerry’s, he is on his way to the airport. As you hit the replay button on your laptop and stare absentmindedly at Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck filling up your screen, he is holding flowers and tapping his foot anxiously. As you feel the streams fall down your face at the credits rolling, he is holding her in his arms, murmuring sweet nothings into her ear.
You spend your months and days waiting, hoping that perhaps he has been blinded. That he does not see what has been in front of him all along. You go on dates with people that do not interest you, pretend to be fascinated by unvaried and colourless stories of their life. You kiss a boy that you could never love, someone you can’t have a future with, pretend to smile and laugh as he holds you in his arms, all the time imagining it was somebody else. Somebody else’s arms, in another time, in another place, perhaps in another universe. You make excuses so that you don’t have to see him as often as you used to. You make excuses so you don’t have to see the two of them, happy and so in love as she mingles with your friends. She has stolen them too, although it is not a matter of contest. You say you’re busy, you have a date, you have work to do, other people to see, places to be.
Slowly, the smile and face you have gotten to know so well begin to fade. You think of him from time to time but you can no longer trace the contour of his face, the exact crook of his teeth, the angle of his dimples as his face curls up into a smile, the warmth and feel of his hands around your body and his arms draped over your shoulder. You remember him when you were at your happiest, before feelings sneaked into your heart and pervaded every pore of your being.
Slowly, but surely, you are moving on.