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We needed to "talk". We needed to talk & it was all my fault. I couldn't keep my hand away from his; I couldn't call someone else to keep me company. I couldn't help but let the way I feel about him take over my better judgment & make me forget that my boyfriend hates him.
And now we were going to talk about it. Lovely.
I dug into my pocket for my cell phone, another feeble attempt to change his mind about this. I knew it wouldn't work, but the idea of trying made me breathe a little easier. Besides, I was already on the way to his house. But I still called. And it went straight to voicemail.
I sighed, reminding myself how unnecessarily flirtatious I was, and how stupidly obvious I made my feelings for him. But he returned those feelings. And that was bad.
A loud 'ping' rang throughout the bus, followed my a robotic female voice, reminding me I was one bus stop closer to his house. To him. And to this "talk."
I slid down in my seat, closed my eyes, & pushed the "play" button on my memory. The previous day's events reiterated in my head for the hundredth time today, starting with the moment him & his over-sized long board climbed on the 'H' bus.
Never have I enjoyed bumper-to-bumper traffic more.
I remembered him sliding into the seat next to me. I remembered exactly what I asked him, exactly how he answered, & exactly how I smiled. I remembered the elevator trips, up & down & up & down.
I remembered so much, I almost missed my stop.
I stood up & made my way off the bus, calling him to tell him I arrived. He was waiting for me downstairs & I followed him through the lobby to the pool deck, in complete awkward silence.
The second his big, booted foot hit the poolside floor he turned around & scooped me up, trapping me in one of his amazing, unexplainable bear hugs.
"So, talk," I dictated, know this conversation would not be an easy one.
"Heh. Talk?" he questioned, smiling & setting me back down. "But you have a boyfriendddd," he added, extending the last letter like an overexcited toddler.
"And we'll get in trouble!" I threw in, exclaiming in the same ridiculous tone. He looked at me & shook his head, then sat down in the nearest lounge chair.
Before we could continue, the ominously gray sky interrupted us, spilling little droplets of salty sky water on our heads. I squealed, he swore, & the thunder laughed as the two of us ran for our lives from the big, bad rain. We were crushed together under a green awning near the exit stairs, hiding from the water that had already showered us.
I turned to face him, a childish smile still plastered on my face. But something went wrong. The rain changed the atmosphere, the feel of this meeting. The cheerfully sarcastic, light-hearted tone of our conversation changed. It was dark now, like the sky and sad, like the clouds.
The next half-hour's conversation was unpleasant; there was name-calling and accusations and tainted memories. I called him an a**hole, he told me I didn't know what I want. I heard myself constantly blaming him, reminding him it was his fault we never dated.
Then he said it, he told me he wanted me. Not soon, not later, not after he came back. Now. Right now. "Why not take a chance? I know those feelings are there. Am I wrong?"
"Well. No. But...I can't. No. I have a boyfriend. And you had your chance. I got tired of waiting."
"I don't care if you come with ball & chain," he whispered.
I pretended not to hear him. I pretended I was somewhere else. I closed my eyes & felt them coming: the tears. I turned away from him then - away from his face, away from his puppy-dog eyes, his long curly hair. Away from his beard, the trademark - and they started. The tears. I looked up at the sky and a droplet fell from my chin, hitting the group in unison with a raindrop. Maybe it was a raindrop. Either way, I felt like the storm relocated; the rain were my tears, the thunder was my heartache.
He turned me around, apparently aware of my waterworks. It didn't surprise him; it wasn't anything new. Many-a tear had been shed for him. Hell, I might have cried him a river by now.
I slammed my eyes shut, causing them to leak some more, then felt his thumb sweep against my cheek, wiping it dry.
"Why here, why today, why not?!" I yelled through salty tears and swollen eyes.
"I wanted a lasting memory of you before I leave," he replied. I scoffed, as if he didn't have enough.
I shook the wet hair out of my face & glared at him, dead in the eye. "Look kid, do you love me?"
He stared at me, or maybe past me, then looked away. I repeated my question. Taking a step closer, he opened his mouth to speak, then unsure of what to say, shut it & reached out to caress my jaw. I let him for a moment, enjoying, briefly, the feel of his skin against mine. Then I pulled away. Sighing, I once again turned to face the rain.
I wanted to take off. Run away and never look back. But I tried that before, and look where it got me.
"Do you love me?" he asked, barely audible.
"I asked you first," I hissed, not missing a beat. Thing is, I'm not sure if I do- or if he does. I don't think I could handle an answer.
I stuck my hand out from under the awning. As the rain fell rhythmically onto my outstretched palm, I replayed our conversation in my head, lingering on a certain sentence. "I don't care if you come with ball & chain," I mumbled to myself.
I can't be in love with him! I can't. I can't. I can't! I'm supposed to love my boyfriend. I do love my boyfriend. He is perfect. He is sweet. He is nice. He is predictable...
I felt hands on my shoulders, then hot breath on my neck. He loves to nibble there. I was turned around, gently but forcefully. I wrapped my arms around his neck, tip-toeing to reach. We kissed then. I'm not sure for how long, or who saw. I don't care. But it made me realize something: I had to escape this hamster wheel of emotions. This redundant cycle of "i-love-you-i-hate-you". I couldn't handle this emotional pain. I missed him, yes. But I couldn't handle this anymore.
We broke away and looked at each other. Then it happened. I did it. I ran. Again.
It was still raining, and I was still crying, & when I looked back, he was still standing there. Maybe I expected him to chase me like he usually did. Maybe I didn't even think I would do it. Again. Maybe I should've stayed there with him.
But I did it. And no matter how far I ran, or how fast, or even how cold and wet I got, I couldn't stop thinking: What do you do when a ghost from your past decides they want you back? And how are you supposed to believe them?