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“So this is the place?” I asked.
She looked at me, eyes widened to degrees of surprise, still not able to comprehend why I sat there on a railing of a roof looking over the Prague skyline. I looked around the place for a minute, observing every minute detail that inhabited my small surroundings, taking in the smallest details that scattered the rough floor. I rested my hands on the railing, stared out across the scene of sprinkled buildings, a random assortment of brick structures; jagged edges which mimicked the beat of my heart.
“Where, exactly?” I turned around to face her.
Her face continued to act the way it had always done; eyes of happiness perched on a visage unfamiliar with sorrow. Her voice quavered. “Why are you doing this?”
“Just tell me.”
She hesitated. “Everywhere.” Her speech subtle, supple, yet rough like the edges of the buildings I could see from across her shoulder. It came out as a soft whisper, memories of him weighing it down to a low, somber tone. “And what did you do?”
“ I need to know.” I interjected.
She looked down with hints of shame spread across her face, bound tight together inside of her, and coming out in jagged bursts visible momentarily. I waited, waited for her to speak, waited for her to tell a truth that would not tear my spirit asunder, and foolishly I waited for her to change her mind.
“Yes.”She turned away from me, soft sobs interrupting a silence cloaked in the howl of an unknown wind and the crudeness of traffic. I suspected she was not telling me everything. But I decided to let it slide for the moment.
She did not look back at me, her head still down under the burden of pain I had brought upon. “Did you always know?”
“The way you were with him, how he would make you laugh. And how you used to talk about him, telling me awesome he was, is. How your head would tilt back at the sound of his name, and the subtle smile that only a keen observer would notice. But it would be wrong of me to say I knew. I merely suspected.”
“Why did you not say anything?”
“The thought of it was enough to cripple me.”
She came towards me, took my hand, squeezed it tight in hers and told me everything would be alright. I could only; I let go.
“When’s the date?”
I nodded, and glanced towards her, in, intently observing. “Now, tell me everything. Don’t leave anything out. What, when, where, how everything.
“But why?” There were tears now. “Why are you doing this to yourself? Why do you want to know what Chuck and I did?”
I take out a cigarette from my overcoat, light it, inhale in. The fumes released mix in with the already polluted smog that hung over us, excluding its load on shoulders a weight I knew they would not be able to handle. “I hate it when you mention his name. Always did”
“Is that a cigarette?”
Sarcastic, I laughed. “I use them to smoke my tears away.” I continued to laugh, as I continued to look at her, at how unnerved she was, how unnerving she found me, almost scared.
“Did you ever fix those boots?”
“Which boots?” The sudden, random question baffled her.
“The ones I bought you, the ones that you burned a hole through when you were in Bern, when you were with him.”
Once again she hesitated. She gathered her bearings, and in one swift flow, she revealed everything: the when and where and the how. From where they first met, to the progress, the intensity of her need, the depth of her wants, to how they connected, and where they touched. Each discovery, though not surprising, still imploded into me, little shards of memory, blunt and sharp in their release. By the time she finished, her breath had become palpably mute; the sheer weight of what she was doing creating a hollow shell that was visible for me to see.
“You can go now.”
“You’re staying here?” Yes, I nodded.”Why are you doing-“
“Just go.” I interrupted. Her voice still aroused in me, feelings I could not control, and I didn’t want that at the moment. I wanted my insides to fully bear the brunt of what they deserved, of this solitude, which I had not yet become used to. She was at the door when I stopped her, one last time. “Elena?” She looked back, her body facing the exit, her face turned towards me for what I realized to be the final time.
“Congrats, darling.”I paused,” be happy and I’ll wait for you. I always will, like that whole in your boot, waiting to be fixed. “
She didn’t answer me. And also, for the last time, she hesitated.”Do you still hurt the way you used to be? Do you still implode?”
I laughed; a wry smile broke free from a sea of pretentious serenity. I nodded, pathetically, I felt. NO words escaped my lips. She left, the creaking of the steel door the only palpable remnants of a love I once had.