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Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
It was Saturday and the time read 8:00 am. The buzz of the alarm clock lingered amidst the air around Cooper’s head, as he tried so desperately to tune out the harshness of reality. The day was here. The day he had been dreading for weeks - Moving day. As he awoke, Cooper sat erect in his bed, uneasiness immediately pulsing through his veins.
Cooper’s father, Dr. Matthew Hutchinson, had been a well-respected psychologist in Los Angeles, California for well over twenty years. Everything had been going well for his business lately. Great, actually, despite the plummeting economy. With this great success came the ultimate job opportunity for Dr. Hutchinson: to relocate to London, England and work for one of the best psychological corporations in the world, Pearson Assessment. For Cooper, however, this seemingly amazing news was devastating. This news, which brought joy to his family, brought tears to himself. Tears of pain, for this move meant leaving everything in California behind and having to start anew 5,456 miles away.
Saying goodbye to Cooper’s friends had been hard enough, but saying goodbye to Brielle, his girlfriend of three years, seemed unthinkable, unimaginable ... impossible, even. Brielle and Cooper had met when she was merely a freshman at St. Matthias, an all girl private high school. Cooper at the time was not much older, being that he was a sophomore attending St. Francis Boys Academy. The two had immediately clicked, and without delay, they got together a few months after. Three years later and the pair were still going strong, or so everyone thought. Ever since last Thursday, when Cooper broke the news to Brielle about the move, their relationship had taken a turn for the worst. Since then they had been so disconnected, so distant and out of sync with one another, which was extremely out of character for this usually inseparable duo.
Recalling the past caused Cooper’s head to throb, forcing him to bring his fingers to his temples, pressing ever so lightly on them. To leave her - his first, only, one true love - caused tears to form in the deepest corners of his eyes. Not only had she played a pivotal role in molding him into who he was today, but she had taught him how to trust your life with, and give your all to one single person. This is not to say that Brielle was just a person in Cooper’s eyes, though. Quite the opposite, actually. She taught him that your girlfriend could also be your best friend in the entire world, and most importantly, she taught him how to love someone above anything, in turn loving himself as well. She was the one, his soul mate and now more than ever Cooper realized he was simply nowhere near ready to give all of this up.
The clock now displayed 4:35 pm. Cooper knew that he couldn’t procrastinate saying goodbye to Brielle any longer, seeing how the plane flying him to his new house in London was leaving in less than three hours. He didn’t plan to spend much time at Brielle’s, knowing that this excruciating goodbye should be kept as short as possible. So without further hesitation, Cooper treaded out of his house, grabbed open the door to his old Buick, started the ignition, clutched the steering wheel, and started upon the fifteen minute drive to her house, taking his time all the while.
Even though he got out to a slow start, Cooper soon pounded his foot to the gas, as if he was taking out his frustration on the road. An eruption of adrenalin took over his body. The only thing he concentrated on was what was about to happen, the pain he was about to inflict upon the love of his life as well as himself. As he continued to picture the conversation, that final goodbye in his mind, he promised himself that when he got to Brielle’s he would not cry. If this had been a normal ride to her house, Cooper would have slowed down when he passed the local city park, scanning his eyes over the grassy field until he came upon the exact location were he and Brielle had shared their first kiss. Not this time, though. This time he payed no attention to the familiar places swirling outside his window as his ride progressed, which were now blending together to form one large blur. This was, however, until the gated community in which Brielle was housed in came into Cooper’s view. He turned off the car, took a deep breath, then slowly stepped out and onto the brick pathway leading up to the cool blue mansion, laced in vines and full of white-painted shutters. As he approached the miraculously clean-cut door, Cooper reminded himself once more of the promise in the car that he made, not to cry, and then rang the doorbell, his finger lingering a couple moments longer than it should have.
After thirty or so seconds, he heard shuffling behind the white door. As it creaked open, Cooper was surprised to see Brielle herself standing there, for he was expecting their family maid, Harmony, to answer. It figures, Cooper thought to himself, that Brielle would choose now of all times to look more beautiful than he had ever seen her before. Although she was dressed in nothing fancy, her bright blue eyes glimmered in the dimmed light of the doorway, her long braid of dirty blonde hair draped down upon her right shoulder.
Cooper’s heart raced violently. He clutched his hands into fists and dug his nails deep into his palms, as if the physical pain would outweigh the emotional. She was playing with her hands, as well, for she was teasing at the hem of her form fitting, coral-colored v-neck. As he looked up at her, Cooper felt a pang of hurt in his stomach, noticing that Brielle had not made eye contact, nor had she invited him in. At this time, however, she turned her feet around and shuffled in the hallway, took a left, and ended up in her living room.
Shelves of books surrounded three of the four walls in the rather small room. It was the tiniest of all areas in the house, but it was fitting seeing how this was Brielle’s library, where she spent countless hours reading, and where the two of them had napped together for hours over the course of the past years. She took a seat on the comfy, yet seemingly uninviting sofa, taking up no more than one fourth of the couch. At this time Cooper took a seat on the opposite end, hoping that he wasn’t getting too close, making Brielle uncomfortable. She then made the first ounce of eye contact. Cooper could see wetness stained upon her rosy cheeks. Immediately he had wished that his eyes had never laid upon hers in that moment, for the intensity of her glare cut through him like a knife. This was the first of many signs to come that showed this was one big nightmare. This made him realize that the mob of emotions running through his head chanting “This will go away! Don’t say goodbye!” could do nothing but be ignored now. There was no turning back, Cooper decided to start and get this over with.
With one clear of the throat and three wishes for the best, Cooper made the first move. “Brielle,” he murmured, his voice softer than he would have anticipated. “I know this is hard for you. It is hard for me too, believe me. There is nothing I want more than to spend the rest of my life with you, here in California. You must believe that. You have to believe that. But at this point in time there is nothing I can do. No words will make it better, no actions will take away the pain or distance that will inevitably be placed between us. You are my world, my light, my armor. I will love no one other than you while I am gone, however I do not want to hold you back.” Cooper winced at the thought of her being with another person, but continued on, “I want you to be happy and have a good future, whether we meet again later in life, or not. Please, Brielle, just let me know one thing - Do you still love me?”
The short time that passed between Cooper’s question and Brielle’s response seemed like an eternity. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but instead took a deep breath in, exhaling slowly with her eyes clenched shut. Brielle was never really good at keeping her emotions a secret, for her emotional pain always seemed to translate to physical pain, as well. Now, though, she really did begin to talk.
“Coop.” her soft voice barely audible. “I have felt so distant with you ever since you told me you were moving. It’s like I don’t want to get too close, I don’t want to let my guard down like it has been, because I know that you’re going to be ripped away from me with or without my consent. I can’t handle this, I can’t do this. Please, just, I feel as though it would be best for you to leave.”
“But Brie-” he tried to get out.
“No, Cooper. You have given me some of the best and worst times of my life. That’s what love is about, putting your all into something, risking everything. And I have, I have risked everything for you for three years of my life. I have spent countless times planning out our future, from the names of our kids to what kind of pets we will have. This is so unexpected, and I feel like the rug as been pulled out from under me. Nothing you can say or do now will help me at this point.”
Tears were now pouring from her face and Brielle felt terrible about what she said, but she was still tough. She pushed people away thinking it would be better in the end, but it never was for her, or the person. In this case, Cooper didn’t want to leave, even though he knew she would make him sooner or later.
“Harmony,” Brielle shouted a bit more sternly than usual. Her voice was shaky, but the maid expected nothing less. “Please bring the brown box in my room downstairs so I can return Cooper’s things to him and escort him out.”
And with this, Brielle got up from the couch, walked through the door and back down the hallway to the main entrance, knowing Cooper had no choice but to follow. Reluctantly, he got up after a moment or two of being alone in the library, Brielle’s library. He took a look one last time at the pictures of her and her family on the walls to leading to the front door, a sharp pain running through his body with every last one.
Cooper arrived at the entrance shortly after Brielle and grabbed his box of sweatshirts, mixed cds, and such from Harmony. He had begged Brielle to keep the things he had given her over the year, hoping she would remember him through them, but she had refused. Brielle had wanted nothing more to keep than one picture of them, a picture from a month or so after they got together. It was so youthful, and had always been her favorite even though Cooper often argued that he looked like a four year old in it, which he clearly did not. Regardless, Cooper had been happy that she decided to keep at least something as a memory of their relationship.
He picked up the box, hoisting it up onto his shoulder. Cooper now attempted to hug Brielle with his free arm, but she turned away coldly. She couldn’t bare feeling his electrifying touch against hers right now, the touch that had shot sparks through her body so many times before. Cooper knew, from this rejection, that it was time to leave. Without further ado, he swerved towards the door.
“I love you, Brielle.” Cooper whispered.
“Goodbye, Cooper. I-I love you too,” She whimpered as the crying started up again, while she shut the door behind him.
And with this last sentence, Cooper did what he had promised himself so many times that he wouldn’t. With this last goodbye, Cooper shed his first tear of the night.