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Unrequited Part 2
"Emily! Phone for you!" my roommate hollered from the living room.
I had just graduated from college three months before and I had finally made it into the real world. At first I had been worried about finding a place to live; I had several vivid nightmare of myself as some hobo living in the subways. I scoured the newspapers and public bulletin boards for advertisements of anyone in need of a roommate. I was at my wit’s end when I found Holly Blake who was in desperate need of someone to help pay the rent.
At first, when I appeared at her doorstep unexpected and dripping from the downpour of rain, she was a bit skeptical. But after appraising me, making sure I wasn't a psychotic, homicidal freak, that wanted her skin as a part of my collection, she welcomed me with opened arms.
"I'm coming," I called back, still brushing my hair in front of the mirror. I was planning on taking a walk later on.
"Hurry up; I was supposed to be out of the door six minutes ago."
I rolled my eyes at her as I strolled into the kitchen and picked up the cordless from the counter. Holly left with a cheery air-kiss and a loud door slam.
"Hello?" I answered uncertainly. I was still new to the city and it was an unknown number.
"Emily?" a hauntingly familiar voice replied. My breath caught in my throat and I almost groaned in dismay. It was painful to realize that I would've recognized that voice no matter how long ago it was that I last heard it.
"Hey, Babe. Let's meet up somewhere," he told me in his demanding way. It sounded like he didn't expect me to argue with him.
"What the Hell?" Who do you think you are?" I sputtered, outraged. He had some nerve!
"Last time I checked I was Benji and I'm pretty sure you're Emi," he mocked me patronizingly. "Didn't think your memory was that bad, Em."
"Screw you! How did you get this number? And what makes you think I want to see you again, you jerk? How did you even find me?”
“I googled it, Em. How does anyone find anything these days?”
“Go get shot! You’re crazy if you think I wanna see you again. And even if I did, you might just blow me off like you did before!" I growled vehemently.
"You can go to Hell," I spat. 'And stay there for all I care."
There was a pregnant silence on the other end of the phone. It gave me pause to resume my composure and start regretting spewing so much bile. I never let myself get s worked up before and it was amazing to me that I could be so hateful.
"Emi?" Benji asked lightly, making me flinch. I had been expecting him to start yelling back at me.
"Meet me at Old Parowan Park in an hour?"
"Huh? Oh......uh, sure."
There was an arts festival going on in full swing when I got to the park . I starting making my way to the pavilion in the center of the park. Benji had made no mention of exactly where in the park he wanted to meet but my gut feeling told me he'd be waiting at the pavilion. It was the place where he had originally asked me out. A torrent of nostalgia flooded my mind as I let my thoughts drift back to a time that a should've forgotten long ago.
The ocean of people washed past my in waves and ripples. I was a lone sailboat drifting, being tossed and turned during a violent storm. Then, after being lost at sea and driven off-course, I found land again. I spotted a dark, shaggy head of hair that I instinctively knew belonged to Benji.
Pushing past an older couple, I stepped up to where Benji was waiting. He was casually slumped on one of the wooden benches, watching the festival and looking more mature and beautiful than I last remembered. The unconcerned look on his face made it apparent that he had no doubt that I was going to be there. His presumption made me agitated at once.
Without breaking my stride, I plopped down in the seat next to him like I had seen him only yesterday.
He looked away from the festival and flashed me one of his sweet smiles. "Hey, Emily."
I looked at him blankly and addressed him accordingly. "Hello, P****."
Benji scoffed half-heartedly and wrapped an arm around me, making my icy disposition melt away. "Same old Emi."
The next few hours were filled with an in-depth conversation on what we've been doing since he ran away from home. Benji asked of about my college experience and what I majored in. I asked him about where he stayed and how he made money. It turns out that he was currently employed as a music teacher in a local high school.
"So you're still working with your guitar? Still writing music?" I asked him.
"My guitar," he said wistfully to himself. His face grew tired. It sounded like a dream stolen from him. Like a flower being denied the drop of water it needed to live. He shook his head ruefully. "No. I don't do that nonsense anymore."
"Nonsense? Your music was beautiful! Why did you give up on it?" I demanded but he wouldn't answer me. "Okay how's this for a question: Why didn't you wait 'til a better time? Why did you have to leave just then?"
Benji stared at me like I had just grown a second nose. HE said like it was the most obvious thing in the world,"'Cause I felt like it."
I sprang to my feet and viciously slapped him across the face. The sound was a crack of thunder on a warm summer's day and suddenly the clouds ripped open and a storm was raging.
"Selfish b******," I snarled at him. My eyes burned with anger and I saw flashes of lightning. My hand then positioned itself for a punch instead of a slap. Benji looked at me in surprise, holding a hand to the spot where I had smacked him.
"Did you even care that your parents sent out search parties looking for your selfish self? Or that your mother started taking anti-depressants because you were gone?" The wind howled louder and with more fury. "And how about me? Did you even care that you broke my heart?"
Benji had shifted his gaze to the floor while the hurricane of my fury assailed him. He looked up to the roof of the pavilion and told me in an even, subdued tone, "I didn't even think about it."
My hot, passionate anger drained away and was filled with a aching sense of neglect and rejection. How could he have not even thought about it? Were we all really so disposable and forgettable as he made us out to be?
"Why did you ask me out?" I whispered miserably. It wasn't really a question as it was a moan of desolation.
He set his cold, navy blue eyes on me.
"I like the way you always need to know why someone's feelin' down even if they don't seem to know it themselves. I like the way you would go out of your way to cheer someone up when anyone else would just leave them alone. I like the way you twirl your hair when you're irritated or thinking. It's real cute," he told me.
He slumped back against the bench and cleared his throat as if he were about to admit defeat .
"I love you."
That was the first time he had ever said those beautiful words to me.
"I love you so much and I wish I was honest about it with you before."
I looked carefully at the young man sitting in front of me. I took in his beseeching look directed towards me. I thought back to all the times I spent dreaming about him when he was gone. I thought of all the heart aches he caused me. I thought of all the time I wasted being infatuated with him. I thought of how I wanted him to want me as well.
I wanted to scream at him that I never loved him and I never would. I wanted to lie so he would feel the pain I did and was still feeling. But at the same time, I was tired of hurt that belonged to anyone. I wanted nothing more to do with love and heart ache.
It would've been so much easier for me if he had just said the he felt like it as he always did before.
"And I loved you," I told him. If he was willing to be honest, so was I. "I loved you. I won't love you any more."
I walked away from Benjamin Morgan, the boy who stole my heart and broke it, and I didn't look back. I wouldn't let myself look back.
"By the way," I called back to him. My eyes stung with unshed tears. "I lied before. I know you knew that I did. I had never had Thai food before."