He Said/She Said: Goodbye
There she stood, carrying the scent of coffee. Now there’s two things he swore he wouldn’t be addicted to again.
Her chipped black nail polish was a dead giveaway of her constant need to fidget. Smiling amid conversation she felt his eyes on her like the sunlight piercing her closed eyelids in the summer. He quickly looked away and tried to recover by striking up a conversation with the man nearest him.
Is it possible that people get more beautiful everyday?
He thought about her while pretending to hear this man’s story.
She too had left her body in conversation while permitting her mind to wander off.
Perhaps this time I’ll say hello. It’s the mature approach after all. I just don’t know if it will give him the wrong impression if I seek him out. Broken, I left him to pick of the pieces of his own shattered heart. And the worst part is I did the crime without even knowing…
She broke me. Every fiber that constructs this body I wear felt like lead after she left. I loved her more than anything and she didn’t feel the same way. How could I love her so fiercely and yet she sits there unattached in the most beautifully painful way?
He was so kind to me. Everyday he told me I was pretty and even more importantly he held me like the world, or fate, could never pry me from his hands. I wanted to love him back but my heart shrank within my body as I discovered we simply weren’t meant to be. I felt so small that night. My breaths made inconsistent designs in the air as I told him he needed to move on from me and evict me from my residence in his heart. We had different ecosystems and different horizons. I couldn’t keep going down my path with my fingers intertwined in his.
That night was so cold. She made me feel warm though. Despite the dropping temperatures she remained relaxed until she started talking. I wasn’t really paying attention at first because her nose and cheeks were so adorably red I couldn’t focus on anything else. The word “separate” jolted me back into reality. She cried as she told me she wanted to rid me of herself. She claimed that we didn’t want the same things and tried to persuade me into thinking I needed someone who wanted what I wanted. Well where on earth would I find someone like that? Someone who wanted her as much as I did. And what good would they be to me if I found them? It was just her that I wanted. She made time stand still in affection and start again in arguments. Short lived tension and unending moments of treason against loneliness were our bread and butter.
He never liked my jazz music until I showed him the dancing that went with it. Engulfed in his arms I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean in a raft. Things were great until I saw a tiny hole that screamed the air out of my safety. He was perfect according to my list of desired traits but I couldn’t help but feel like I was cheating on my soulmate with a man who just wasn’t it. In the distance I heard a faint voice call out, “Don’t give up on me. I’m coming.” He held me close but at the same time he held me back. I wanted him to be it, it’s simply easier that way and he truly cared for me but as time went on I had to stop the train. I had to stop rearranging the furniture and admit that the house was on fire. My soulmate deserved that much of me.
She said she didn’t have a solid reason for leaving. It just “wasn’t right” or something simple like that. That paper excuse cut me open and poured lemon juice into my newly formed injury. There I stood with my heart totally uncovered and all she had was a confused presentation of why it wasn’t meant to be for us. I hated her tears and her shaking apologies. They tore me up. I wanted to hug her and brush the tears off of her face and see those glossy eyes raise at the corners the way they always did when she smiled. But I couldn’t touch her. She wouldn’t want that if she didn’t want me. Her words made me angry. How could she not feel the undeniable chemistry? I forgot to breathe as I realized…I wouldn’t live life with her under my arm anymore.
He looked mad and broken all at the same time. Like a child who’s father didn’t make it to his baseball game as he promised. I reached for his hand as my exhausted mouth leaked out an apology. He grabbed my hand back and I could feel the pain running through his veins. I had no idea it would hurt this bad. Pulling him in closer my lips pressed against his and he let them. I let out a small sigh as I realized this was our last. I pulled away and he denied my distance. Coming back his lips found mine and this time the silence lost the battle to my sobs. He hugged me and told me he loved me. I pinched my eyebrows together and shook my head as if to say, “Please, don’t say that…” Walking away I felt like I murdered his heart and just noticed the blood stains on my hands. Goodbye is so cold and sharp. Like an icicle dangling from a rooftop. It formed and awaited its time. Tonight it fell down on the both of us. Impaling the very cavity that once held us close.
She turned around and walked away. Every step she took in my opposite direction felt like a slap in the face. I used to watch her walk because I loved the way she carried herself. Her body was so strikingly attractive yet she walked unaware and glided with a healthy confidence. Now I watched her through tear filled eyes as her shoulders slump forward and her head falls into her hands. How could this much pain be good for either of us? Is this what she wanted? Her pure soul seems like it turned to water and flooded from her eyes. She looked so empty as she left. Smaller and smaller she became in my sight. Moving seemed like climbing Everest. It was something unachievable for me. Cement blocks of confusion and longing had molded around my feet. I simply stood there with my mouth open as if to call her back through the lips that still carried her touch.
She walked to her car and cried until her body later gave into sleep’s demands. He walked back to his apartment with a clenched jaw and tears streaking down his nearly frozen face. January seventh burned a hole right in the middle of that winter for them.
Walking up to him she thought to herself, “This is crazy.” Her mind begged her to turn and run away but apparently her heart was controlling her feet because they kept moving toward him. He turned around and she stopped about three feet from him. Smiling he reached out to hug her with a friendly, “How have you been?” Her bones felt brittle in his embrace as she replied with a cheerful, “Good. And how about yourself?” Pulling apart they began small talk.
Holding her again did something to me. I smiled and acted cordial but inside I felt like I had begun to deflate. She looked so beautiful I couldn’t help but to wish I could stay this close to her forever. Absently involved in chitchat I play back my favorite moments with her in my mind like I did everyday after she left.
In an instant I was in his arms and then back out of them. Suddenly I realized I wanted to savor that embrace but it was too late, the moment had already passed. He looks great. He let his hair grow a little and I can see the ends curling back into a dark pattern that makes him look more like his father. Amid our talk I realize my eye contact with him changes. I feel like I’m falling into his eyes and every part of me melts as the hazel color takes me over. This feeling of desire needs to stop so I input myself back into reality.
She stands with all her weight shifted onto her left foot as her hip is slightly popped. One hand rests on her left hip and the other twists her pearl necklace around her fingers. I’m so caught up I can’t remember if I am talking or she is. I wish she felt what I’m feeling. I pretend to see this honey fill her from the inside. It starts at her feet then pours until it raises her mouth into a smile and completely fills her. Blinking fast once or twice I notice that I am rambling on about work. She remains alert and listening so I’m positive the she isn’t drifting off into our past…disappointed I wrap up my sentence and give her a chance. Either way I’ll be hung up on her very presence.
The party is dying down and we’ve only been talking for about 10 minutes and my friend comes up to me and interrupts my sentence with, “You ready to go?” Involuntarily I contort my forehead and my lips form a crease like the one in the book that holds our story together.
“Uh, yeah. I’ll be out to the car in a minute.” Smiling, her and I nod to each other and she walks away swinging her lanyard like a bored lifeguard in the middle of summer.
So this is goodbye. She looks like she was mid-breath and her lungs gave out when her friend leaves. I smile again hoping it jogs her emotion’s memory and stretch my arms out for a hug. “Well I’ll see you around.” I say wanting to add, “I’ve missed you.” I leave it out and hold her briefly one more time.
“Yeah, it was nice catching up.” I say as we both loosen our arms and readjust our distance. I notice how I make sure to say “nice” instead of something too eager like “great” or “wonderful”. I’m doing all I can to suppress these feelings that flood into my eyes and ears and mouth. “Goodbye.”
Walking their own paths their minds, though clouded with a dense fog, remained on the other.
She told herself, “Sometimes love doesn’t work out how you want it to no matter much it lingers.”
He reminded himself that she hurt him once. It would not doubt happen again. Tattered and barely recognizable his partially mended heart couldn’t withstand another devastating event. Perhaps love isn’t joyful like their first April together. Maybe it’s like that January and this February- cold and lonely.
Setting out next week for the world she knew love would find her. He taught her valuable lessons in love but now her soulmate felt nearer than ever. Sad to actually let go of him she thanks her lucky stars for ten minutes of closure at a party with him. Though they were both still confused one day they would find their destinies awaiting them like planes awaiting passengers.
Love can be strange. It is a teacher. A discipliner. A fighter. An attacker. It is oxygen and it is poison. Love makes us stretch our existence and never fully return to where we started. Love binds us but loosens us. It clouds our vision but opens our eyes. Love works and love falls apart, but in the end love lives under our heels in the moment before our foot takes a step. Love is the weight of fatigue that rolls down our eyelids telling us to make a wise choice for ourselves. Love is the story that contains the secrets to success. Love is invasive in the most magical and confusing ways.