“I need to talk to you.” I look at him. He doesn’t look at me. Doesn’t even want to acknowledge me.
“Please.” Maybe it was that tiny note of desperation that has hummed quietly and painfully in my chest for the past year that did it.
Or maybe it was because I asked nicely.
But he turned.
And again. I was struck by how much he has grown. How much he has changed. How much taller and broader he’s gotten. How his hair has finally grown to the right length. How there was a tougher glint in his eyes. How finally his mustache has started to grow.
And then I blink and look again and he was back to the person I remember. His ears a little too big. His eyes a little too small. The slight crease in his forehead that happens every-time he looks at me.
And he was mine. And he wasn’t.
“I’m sorry.” I croak out finally.
He just looks at me.
“What are you sorry about?” He asks slowly. Steadily. Calmly. No hint of anger. Or remorse. No understanding either. No curiosity. No interest.
Just a question.
Something that dutifully follows perfunctory conversation.
And his indifference was like a force pressing into the hollowness of my collar bones.
“I’m sorry,” I grapple in my mind for something appropriate to cover all the wrongs I have ever done to him. And to myself.
“I’m sorry for…” I was lost in my memory. Of all the times he has waited outside in the rain to go for dinner with me. How we talked until I fell asleep and he listened to my steady breathing before saying goodnight. Of all the Valentines and roses and handmade presents. How he stayed with me time and time again our futures intertwining.
“I’m sorry for not realizing how much you’re worth until it was too late.”
And there was a pain so big in my chest I’m afraid it may crack me in two and reveal the smallest of hearts beating pitifully against my ribs.
“Every day that I remember, about me and you,” I go on brokenly, afraid of what else I may say, but too afraid of stopping, “I regret everything.”
“I regret you. I’m so sorry for not loving you in time.”
Finally. There’s a spark of hate. Or anger. In his eyes.
Anything. Anything was better than the dullness. The lack of. The not care of.
“I made you wait for me. And when I liked you back. It was too late.” I closed my eyes recounting those sleepless nights of hearing my heart-break and my ribs frantically beating my heart into submission, and my mind floating and floating into eternity.
“And then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t too late. And finally. Finally. You liked me.
And I liked you.” I looked at him and he looked at me and I know, that he was remembering that night, when he held me in his arms, and everything was right.
But then it wasn’t. It wasn’t.
“Then you left me” he said. His eyes back to that dull state. And the words. Hitting me again. Never losing momentum. Or velocity. Even after all these times.
“I’m so sorry” I say again, my eyes closed ignoring the screaming in my head, “I’m so sorry that I realized too late that you. That it was you.”
I couldn’t look at him, instead trying desperately to remember the times when his eyes held the world, knowing that he would give me that and more if I asked. And how I had taken his world, and more, and walked away. I’m drowning in my self-hate and pity. Knowing that this time, I was the bad guy. That I was irredeemable.
He stared at me. And I stared steadily back. Knowing. Knowing that this. Was what he needed to hear. How his five years of unrequeitedly loving me never accumulated to anything. And that I needed to tell him as much as he needed to hear.
“I thought. Love was something different. I chased after the wrong thing. I thought love was supposed to be fun. Exciting. Loud. In your face.” And I knew he knew I was referring to the person that I stupidly held on to for far too long. And the person that broke my heart and his at the same time over and over again.
“But what I didn’t realize was that what I really needed, was just someone to keep me safe. Someone to untangle and uncomplicate the mess I continuously made of my life. Someone to hold my hand when I go over my emotional deep end. Someone to be my quiet anchor when I screamed the waves into a raging sea.” I looked at him. As he looked back on all the phone calls we had. Those conversations the moon and the stars bore witness to.
And the words that the wind whispered covertly to each other.
“What I didn’t realize was that the love that I needed, was the one I already had.”
He looked at me. But I looked away.
“So really, I’m sorry.” I think I was finally wounding down. Concluding.
“And,” he prompted. Knowing me and not knowing me all over again.
“And, I need you to tell me that it’s over.” I will not cry. I tell myself. Knowing that this was it. Knowing that he would do it. Knowing that I’ve spent these years in regret and self-inflicted pain because I never fully gave up hope.
“Tell me that it’s over.” I plead with him to tell me that it’s not. Or that he is. I plead with him for an end.
And he sighs. Looking away from me. Looking ahead. At what could be. Or maybe looking back. At what already isn’t.
And my heart jumps and dies like petals falling off love-me-nots.
He looks at me and again I see that he holds the world in his eyes and that he could give it to me if I asked him too. Or if he wanted to.
“I’m sorry. It’s over.”
But I guess not.
He shuts his world from mine.
And that was it.
This was the story that isn’t.
It’s the art of letting go, no longer holding on to the past but looking towards the future. But it’s not forgetting. It’s accepting life as it is. It’s moving on.