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Sunsets

By , palatine, IL
I think it was a Thursday when you walked out of my life. Although, to be completely honest, I don’t remember the date as clearly as I remember the moment. We sat on a bench at the park by my house. How cliche, right? A boy and a girl sitting on a wooden bench in the crisp fall afternoon air. The classic scene was overridden by the fact that this was nothing romantic. Our encounter here was not cute nor happy and this was no time to get closer. In fact, everything was about to fall apart.

You held my hand as you told me about her. Well, you didn’t exactly hold my hand, you mostly just placed your hand on top of mine. The motion was more of a I-know-I’m-breaking-your-heart-so-I’m-going-to-hold-your-hand-since-I-can’t-hold-your-heart-anymore gesture. I may have looked composed at first, maybe even strong, but I wasn’t. Just feeling the warmth of your skin on mine was almost too much to handle. The hardest part? I wasn’t over you. Not a chance. Your touch gave me butterflies even as everything you were saying was hurting me. No, I take that back. Butterflies is a girly little understatement. Your touch made my stomach turn and flip in ways that would make Shawn Johnson jealous. I still loved you. I was still in love with you. I didn’t want to have to let that go. But I hear even the most beautiful sunrises have their sunsets, so I guess that’s what this was.

No one told me that once the sun set, the darkness came so fast. I wasn’t ready for that but you let it in. Or did she? Or maybe both of you? Were you addicted to her smile, or her laugh? Maybe her kiss. Please tell me it wasn’t that. Just the thought was enough to make me want to vomit all over the wooden chips which I had unconsciously been pushing into piles beneath my feet. Whatever it was about her, there must have been something you simply could not resist, which is fine. I just don’t understand why you had to drag me into this mess. Couldn’t you have let me be? I was fine without you. You know I was happiest with you, but I before I met you, I survived on my own. But now, I wasn’t fine.

You held my hand a little tighter as you said one last time, “I’m sorry, I never wanted to hurt you.” I knew you, and I knew how smart you were. You were always the logical one so I’m pretty sure you should have figured out that if you “never wanted to hurt me,” you shouldn’t have done this. You should’ve kept your promise when you said you cared and that you would always be there. Promises were never something I took lightly, you knew that.

In fact, I can still remember the first promise you made. The story is stupid, but I remember it like it was yesterday. We were driving to the movie theater to see one of those classic love-story chick flicks. I was a nervous sixteen-year-old going on her first real date with a boy who came to my door to pick me up, shook my dad’s hand and made small talk with my mom, before opening the door of his small red car for me and apologizing for the squeak of the handle but adding that it’s part of the car’s personality. As we drove, I started rambling, as I always did when I was nervous, and somewhere in my nonsense I made you promise you wouldn’t make fun of the movie. Secretly, I loved your sarcastic comments about how cliche things are sometimes but I also knew you would ruin the cutest parts of the movie by pointing out how unrealistic and lame they actually were. You said you promised you wouldn’t, but I shook my head. I told you if you were going to promise anything, even something so simple, you had better mean it. You took your eyes off the road for just a split second and looked straight at me saying, “I always keep my promises.” Looking back, that moment wasn’t anything special. I mean here you were, promising to not laugh at Channing Tatum’s cheesey love proclamations, but at the same time there was a reason this moment stuck with me. There was something so real in the way you looked me dead in the eyes and so confidently stole my trust. That’s all I wanted...just to know I could trust someone to keep their word.

But now here I was, holding your hand and still piling wooden chips under my feet, trying not to cry. You didn’t keep any of your promises. You lied, and you changed my trust in a completely different way than you did that very first night. Now, you took any sense of trust I had away from me. I no longer felt that I could give it to anyone else again because I wasn’t even sure if trust was something that was meant to be given. I wasn’t sure of anything.

I pulled my hand away from you. It wasn’t yours; if you couldn’t hold my heart, I wasn’t going to let you hold my hand. Just that simple movement seemed to throw everything off balance. I was shaky, mostly in the area just below my bottom lip. “Don’t cry, whatever you do. Just save it until you’re home,” I thought. But before I knew it, there was one tear, then another, until I was fighting just to breathe through the scattered sobs. You tried to comfort me, but we both knew your touch would only make everything worse, so I backed away and started walking home. Maybe I could blame my tears clouding my vision, or maybe I simply did not want to see the change but as I walked up the steps to my front door, I realized something. In my short walk home, the sun had been setting. The sky was now a deep blue as the darkness settled in.





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