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Saturday meant swing dancing. The young man stood in the corner of the ballroom, watching as young teenage couples mussed their way through the simple steps that they were being taught. He chuckled to himself. Because of the odd numbers and his wife's refusal to go dancing, he'd been left without a partner, but he didn't mind. It was more entertaining to watch new dancers try and figure their way around the dance floor. The lesson came to an end and within five minutes, the dance was in full gear. Some people had decided to sit out for a little while to catch their breath. The door would open occasionally and regulars would come into the studio. The young man was greeted by a group of his friends who pulled him onto the dance floor to join them in their first dance of the night. Laughter could be heard over the music and the entire group had huge grins on their faces. After a few songs, the young man called out that he was going to take a break, get some water. Just as he sat down, the door opened. As the man breathed in, a strangely familiar smell lingered in the air. A woman's laugh drifted to his ears. He knew that scent and he knew that laugh. He knew her.

He watched as the man next to her placed his hand on the small of her back and leaned in to whisper in her ear. His eyes followed their movements as their fingers intertwined. He felt a twinge in his heart; a strange feeling was filling him up, a feeling he hadn't felt in years. He had to remind himself that he had someone waiting for him back at home, that it was by his own doing this girl in the red dress was now at the side of someone that wasn't him.

As she and her partner began to dance, he thought back a few years. It was the night that he'd told her of his engagement. He knew exactly how it would make her feel. He knew how much she loved him. But she needed to know. And he hadn't had the courage to look her in the eye and tell her that it was completely over. He loved his fiancee, his now wife, but he had adored the girl in red. He had never really admitted it, but he had loved her. And now as he watched her on the dance floor with someone new, he thought of all the possibilities of what could have been. His mind was filled memories of several years before and before he knew what was happening, a small smile played on his lips. He had the strangest urge to walk across the room and grab her away from the hands that currently held her. The three years that they'd been away from each other had been very good to her. The lines of her face had sharpened and each feature was more captivating than he remember, but the simplistic and incredible beauty that he'd remembered was still there: her tall, lean figure, long dark hair, and vibrant green-blue eyes seemed so familiar to him.

A slow song began to play and he recognized it immediately. It was one of their songs. His heart skipped a beat in his chest and looked to the girl in red to see if she recognized it as well. He watched as the red dress flew past and out into the night. He looked to her forlorn partner across the dance floor, a puzzled expression coming over him. He stood somewhat stupidly with his hands still up in the air. Running his fingers through his hair, he sat down on a bench at the side of the room and put his head down. Either he was used to this kind of behavior or he hadn't the faintest idea how to deal with it. The man turned away from him and glanced again toward the door. He saw a flutter of red rustle in the wind. Her arms were wrapped around her waist and her shoulders were hunched and shaking. Against his better judgment, he felt his feet moving to the door and much too soon, he felt the rush of winter's air on his face.

It felt as though he was out of his body, watching himself walk over to the woman in red. It was if someone else was speaking when he called out to her. The nickname he'd given her flowed effortlessly from his lips. It scared him. He saw her tense up and watched her fingers dig into her sides. He could hear the faintest murmur of her voice. He spoke out again, hoping this time that it would produce some sort of audible, intelligible response. It didn't. Shoulders hunched even more and grip tighter, the woman in the red dress as still stood as a statue. Perhaps this wasn't going to work. Perhaps this was a mistake. But he couldn't help but try. He tried once more to get her attention. Still unsure of what he was doing, he whispered to her, so quietly he wasn't sure if he'd really even said anything. But when he saw her inch further away from where he was standing, he knew she had heard him. His heart was beating traitorously and he had to will himself to think of the woman waiting for him at home. But he couldn't leave her like this. The way he'd left things those years ago was so cowardly and unfair to her. She hadn't done anything to deserve such sorry treatment. His hand reached out to touch her, but he clenched his hand into a fist before any contact was made. His mind raced, trying to somehow figure out what was going on inside that head of hers. She'd never been one to be openly sharing about how she was feeling. He realized now how it was just another survival instinct. She was protecting herself from unnecessary hurt. She was protecting herself from him. If only she would look him in he eye. She could never hide from him when she stared into his eyes. Those green-blue orbs were the windows to her soul, as cliché as it sounded. He always knew what was going on behind her eyes. But he knew he'd never see those eyes look into his own again. And he didn't deserve access into that soul. He'd given up that right years ago. Yet, he still hoped, still wished.

His phone beeped. When he looked down, the time flashed at him. 11:11pm. His heart ached and he closed his eyes and wished. Just like she'd always told him to do. Maybe this time, it would actually work. His breath hitched as he saw her hands move away from her waist and reached up to her face. For a moment she stood motionless. After an eternity, she began to slowly turn around. Her head was bowed down, staring at her feet. Ever so surely, she raised her head and stared directly into his eyes. His breathing completely stopped. The same beautiful girl he'd known was looking at him with a tear stained face. He'd seen that face time and again in their last few months of friendship and no matter how many times he saw it, it never got easier. Even now, it was hard to deal with the knowledge that the absolute despair that he could read in her eyes was because of him.

He'd never meant for this to happen. She was just an experiment. Could he or could he not get over someone else? The experiment had yielded results, results that hurt his test subject. She wasn't supposed to have fallen in love with him. She was supposed to walk away from the experience unharmed. But staring at her now, he knew that hadn't been the case. The experiment had left her damaged, almost irreparable. He yearned to see her smile and tell him that everything was okay, that she was okay. But her mouth stayed in a hard line, silently telling him to state his business or walk away. He knew he only had a few moments before she stormed away. Opening his mouth, not quite knowing what all to say, he attempted to explain himself in a way that he should have done years ago. Better late than never, though. Right? The red dress fluttered in the winter air and the familiar scent rode on the breeze and crashed down on him. He tried to stop his heart from beating traitorously, but it was like trying to tell the clouds to stop letting down raindrops. Ignoring the roar of his heart in his ears, the man began his explanation. He could see the glimmer of tears collecting in the young woman's eyes and he felt his voice hitch in his throat. Would he ever get used to seeing her hurting?

His words seemed so empty and worthless as he watched the grief on her face become more apparent each time he spoke. He was doing much more harm than he had thought he would. He'd thought that finally explaining why things happened the way they did would bring her a sense of closure and allow him to go about his days without having to feel even the slightest bit guilty for what he did to her. It had taken him years to actually realize the extent of the pain that he'd put her through, but standing in front of her now, he finally saw it. As he continued to stumble through his explanation, he saw her begin to shut down. She'd stopped listening and was doing all she could to not cry. She always tried so hard to be strong in front of him. She always tried not to cry. And before he knew what he was doing, he felt his arms wrap around her and pull her in. He'd stopped talking and just held her close. He felt sobs rake through her and felt her hands pushing as hard as they could against his chest. She'd gotten stronger than last he remembered, but so had he. She stood no real chance of getting away. Her silent sobs shook him and he smoothed her hair as he tried to calm her down. He could hear her whispering to herself but couldn't quite make out what she was saying. Before long, he heard the door open and felt hands on his shoulders. He turned to see the face of the man she'd come in with. His anger was very clear but soon after, recognition hit. Her date knew exactly who he was. His anger turned to pure hate as he realized who he was. He could see the fire burning in his eyes and felt him shaking with restraint. He pulled him from the woman in red and wrapped his own arms around his date. Her sobs had calmed down to soft whimpers. The man stood motionless as he looked forlornly at the girl in the red dress. He'd ruined something much worse than he'd thought. The man now holding her spat angry words at him, telling him to leave. Venom dripped off of each syllable. But he couldn't leave. Not yet. He hadn't finished what he'd wanted to say. There were four more words he had yet to tell her. Eyes begging, he carefully approached the couple. His hand took hold of hers and she slowly looked up at him. Her eyes held sadness far beyond her years. He broke a little inside. His finger lifted her chin and he looked her straight in the eye.

“I loved you, B,” he said simply. And with that, he disappeared into the winter air, leaving his B in the arms of someone he knew would not break her as he did. Someone who would love her more than he could ever dream of.

He walked away from the one person who'd loved him truly and walked home, towards the woman he'd thought he'd loved just a bit more than her.



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

Litgirl said...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 5:10 pm:
Really brilliant,you know how to make feelings come alive; I liked it very much,keep your writing going. Oh and,by the way,thanks for your reply to my post about crush trouble :) It did actually help very much. Thank you.
 
DearestBink replied...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm :
Thank you kindly. I'm very glad you liked this piece. It was definitely a very hard one to write, but one that needed to be written -- for my sake at least. And you're quite welcome. I'm glad that I could help a bit. I truly hope the situation works itself out. :) I'm always open to helping!
 
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tabalee14 said...
Dec. 18, 2010 at 7:58 pm:
utterly spectacular u know how to bring some ones mind directly to how you are thinking what a wonderful gift that is so awsome that u get to share with so many never let any one stop you from reading because it is quit the talent of yours:}
 
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SayshThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 18, 2010 at 10:57 am:
AMAZING!!!! :) your writing is wonderful and i couldn't stop reading! keep at the writing, you're really good!
 
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