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Ten-Thousand Miles And A Heartbreak Away. This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I reached across the boundless space between us and laced my fingers in yours. You lifted your eyes and smiled. I searched your face for what seemed like eternity. I saw so much good in you that it almost killed me to look away.

“Two more minutes,” a distant voice called out.

I felt the tears well up in my eyes, but for your sake, I fought them.

We sat there in silence for the remaining time.

Silence was all we needed.

You released my hand and buried your face in your arms. I wanted to reach out to you again, but I knew better. It would only make things that much worse for both you and me.

I stood up, scraping my chair against the hard linoleum floor, ready to exit the naked room. But you grabbed my hand.

“I’m afraid time is up, Miss,” the uniformed man said to me. He stood in the doorway.

A traitor tear escaped my eye and spilled onto my cheek.

“I hope you know that I love you. Very, very much. I never meant to hurt you.”

“I know,” I replied. I cupped your hand between the two of mine and gently kissed your palm. “I know.”

I smiled my final smile, the last you’d ever see, and departed my past. I didn’t look back as I drove away.

********************


I didn’t know what to say to you so I just kept staring down. I felt ashamed and guilty. Nothing I could say would take back what I’d done.

I heard you slide forward and then your hand was in mine, squeezing ever so gently. I looked up at you and smiled. I wanted so badly to hold you in my arms, to tell you that everything would be okay. You stared at me for a long moment and I stared back. You’re the most beautiful girl in this whole entire world.

You turned toward the guard as he said, “Two more minutes.” I saw the pained look in your eyes.

Why did I have to go and do this to you? You didn’t deserve it.

I pulled my hand away from you and curled my arms on top of the table. I put my head in my arms, not wanting to look at you. The person I cared the most about. The person I loved with all my heart. The person I’d hurt so badly.

After a moment you stood up. Your chair scraped loudly against the floor. I didn’t want you to leave so I grabbed your hand.

The guard opened the door once more and stood in the doorway. “I’m afraid time is up, Miss.”

A tear rolled down your flawless cheek. I didn’t want you to cry. “I hope you know that I love you. Very, very much. I never meant to hurt you.” I wanted to make things right. I wanted, right then, to cradle you in my arms and give you the world.

“I know,” you said, kissing my palm. “I know.” You smiled an agonizing smile at me and began toward the door.

Somehow I knew this would be the last time I ever saw you. I wanted to cry. Cry like the man I wasn’t.

I’ll never forgive myself for doing this to you.

Ever.





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