Too Late

By
She waits for him by the doors, like she does every day. People rush past her, but she doesn’t see them. All she can think about is his eyes…the emptiness in his eyes when she last saw him… But maybe she was wrong. Maybe she had seen wrong… She hopes she did. She sees him walking towards her, looking around him as he walks. Anywhere but at her…

“Hey,” she says, her voice steady. He looks at her, but doesn’t say anything. He stops in front of her, about a foot away. Still silent.

“How was class?” she asks him, trying to ease the tension building inside of her.

“Fine,” he replies, disinterested. He glances around them once more. Not one more word leaves his lips. She hates the silence.

“What is it?” she finally blurts out. He looks at her. There. The emptiness in his eyes as he stared at her was clear. The look she loved so much was gone. The comfort she got when she looked into his eyes was gone. No…

“I think you know,” was his reply. She looks away, anywhere but at him. She did know. But she didn’t believe it. She didn’t want to. He couldn’t leave her…

“Say I didn’t know, tell me.” He closed his eyes for a brief moment. When he opened them, they were glistening.

“I can’t be with you anymore.” There. He said it. The words cut into her like a knife. She felt her tears coming, but tried to hold them back… that didn’t work; a tear rolled down her cheek as she stared at the one she loved…had loved for the past year.

“Why?” she manages to ask. He looks away from her again, grimacing. He wipes his eyes.

“I’m not supposed to cry,” he growls. She knew that were true. He hadn’t cried for ten years now.

He turns back to her.

“I just… can’t. That’s all you need to know.” His voice shook. She couldn’t take it in. This wasn’t supposed to happen… how could she live without him?

The other girl… the other one she had seen him with for the past couple months, walked past. She met her eyes, and then met his. There! The look was back in his eyes. But he was staring at the other girl, not at her. The girl acknowledged him, but glanced back at her and kept walking. Maybe she knew what was best for her, which wasn’t coming over here to him.

He looked back at her and she could see the longing in his eyes.

“I didn’t want to hurt you. I don’t. I’m sorry,” he said quickly. He reached for her, trying to pull her into his arms.

“No, don’t,” she stammered, pushing his arms away. “Just don’t.”

“Don’t you pull away from me,” he said angrily. She looked at him, disbelief in her eyes.

“I’m not the one who is leaving,” she said, her voice hard. He flinched. Her words had stung, but she didn’t care. It was the truth.

“I’m not leaving you… I just…” He looked back to where the other girl had been.

“Want to be with her,” she finished for him, her voice cold.

Slowly, she took off the ring he had given to her. There promise ring.

“Here,” she said, holding her hand out. A tear slid down her cheek. He looked at her hand. He didn’t take it.

“Here!” she yelled at him. More tears were pouring down. He still wouldn’t take it. She dropped the ring onto the ground where it landed in front of his right foot. She saw a tear slide down his cheek as he stared down at the ring. At what once was.

“I love you,” she whispered.

With that she walked away.

He didn’t stop her.

He didn’t look away from the ring that was still lying on the floor.

The front doors swung shut as she ran out of the building. Her heart turning cold, and breaking into a million pieces as she walked away from him… and as he didn’t stop her from doing so.


ONE WEEK LATER


“Hello?” A voice asked over the receiver. Her sisters voice.

“It’s me,” he said into the telephone. He heard her sister sigh.

“What do you want?”

“Is she there?” he asked her desperately.

“Yes, but I’m not going to let you talk to her.”

“Please… I made a mistake…”

“I know you did,” her sister yelled.

“Please…”

The line went dead.


He called again an hour later. She answered this time.

“Hello?”

“It’s me.”

Silence.

“I need to talk to you.”

Silence.

“Please…”

Silence. Then… “Now isn’t a good time. I have to go to the hospital.”

“What? What happened? Are you okay?” he demanded.

She ignored his questions.

“Bye.”

The line went dead.


FIVE DAYS LATER



She hadn’t been to school at all. He hadn’t seen her for almost two weeks now. He drove to her house. Her mom answered the door.

“She’s not here,” her mom said as soon as she saw it was him.

“Where is she?” he demanded. She looked at him suspiciously.

“Has she talked to you at all?” He shook his head no. Her mother had dark circles under her eyes and looked like she had been crying.

“Is everything okay?”

“She is at the hospital.”

“What’s wrong?” he demanded once more. She started to shut the door.

“Talk to her if you want to know.”



He drove to the hospital.

He found her room that she was staying in and walked in.

She was lying on the hospital bed, hooked up to wires. She stared at him with anxious eyes as he walked into her room, shutting the door behind him.

“What are you doing here?” she asked him softly. She went into a coughing fit and he waited until she was done.

“What is wrong with you?” he asked her.

“I asked first.”

“I want to know what is wrong with you,” he demanded. She looked away from him, closing her eyes.

“I’m… I have cancer. I have had cancer. They can’t treat it anymore… and I’m dying.” It took him a minute to take this in. Then he felt it… the gut wrenching feeling you get… you feel as though your heart is being ripped right out of your chest. The feeling of disbelief you get… the thought of “this can’t be happening.”

“You…you’re…why didn’t you tell me?” he asked this as he sank down into the chair that was beside the bed. He legs felt like jello.

“I didn’t want to hurt you.” These words hurt him still. He had hurt her. He had made the biggest mistake when he let her go. The other girl meant nothing to him…

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, taking her hand. That was when the tears came.

“When?”

She shrugged. “The doctors said I’ll be lucky if I last two more days.”

The door opened and her sister walked in. She stopped at the sight of him.

“What are you doing here?” Her sister held roses and a book.

“Let me see that,” she said from the bed. Her sister brought the book over to her.

“Visiting hours are over for non family members,” a doctor said, sticking his head inside of the room. He felt his voice leave him.

He couldn’t leave her again…

“Go,” she said. He looked down at her.

“Don’t,” she added, but too late.

“I love you,” he whispered.

She shook her head.

“I said don’t.”

“I know.”
He left.







THE NEXT DAY


He walked into the hospital, carrying her favorite book. He reached the desk and asked for her.
Her mother walked towards him as he stood at the desk.

She told him the news.
“She died this morning.” There were tears pouring down her cheeks.
“No.” He couldn’t believe it. He didn’t want to. Even though he knew it were true.
“I’m sorry. She told me last night that…if she died… to tell you that she loved you.”
Her mother walked away. I stood there motionless. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I sank to my knees.
“I love you, too,” he whispered to the empty room.
He got up, tears still falling down his face.
He walked away. No one stopped him.





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