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Fall to pieces
I didn’t want it to come to this.
I tried so hard to keep this together, clinging to every last shard as it all fell to pieces. You’ve been acting weird for too long, we’ve been arguing so much that when I see you my first instinct is to yell. What caused this? Just weeks ago my first instinct was to stumble into your arms and hold on tight, because any moment you might vanish into thin air. Why do we do this to each other? We argue, we say things we couldn’t possibly mean, days later we realize we’re just too in love to walk away. You can't tell me the spark is gone. It’s there, the minute we look into each other’s eyes and say sorry for the silly things that couldn’t possibly change the way we feel. It just ignites to wildfire whenever we’re around each other for too long, or we don’t get enough sleep the night before, or we’re unable to keep the venom from our voices for no reason at all. I just cannot stay mad at you, every time you look at me with that half smile, that soft shyness in your eyes. The look that holds the magic words: “I don’t want to fight anymore.”
I don’t think I'll be seeing that look anymore.
This time is not like our past little quarrels. In the past few weeks I've called you many names, said many four letter words, and you’ve sat back with that smoldering expression and argued back using your own kind of warfare. As I blow up at you, you just sit there, calmly spitting back rebuttals with enough venom to rival the rattlesnakes that occasionally turn up in our town.
No, this isn’t one of those fights. I wish that was the case. I sit here on the gazebo in the small park near the high school, clutching the railing for dear life and rereading my message to you over and over.
'We have to talk.'
You know where to meet me. It’s getting dark already, but this can't take long; I've already made my choice. I'll give you a chance to explain the picture that was sent to me by three different people, the picture that I've spent all my tears on. I've run a million different explanations through my head that could justify this—some sister of yours that I haven’t met, a friend that you were catching up with—but I know I'm just humoring myself. No one looks at their sister this way, and they wouldn’t wrap their arms around someone who’s just a friend.
For some reason—maybe I just like putting myself through hell—I pull up one of the messages once more. I don’t really need to put any thought into which one I open; they all hold the same picture, almost identical “I'm sorry that he did this, but I thought you should know” messages. I scroll down, yet another tear managing to squeeze its way onto my lashes as I look at the picture that will probably end us. She was in my art elective freshman year, the pretty blonde girl with the icy blue eyes. She had nothing to do with this, no malice whatsoever in her personality. They say that it was after our latest argument, you ran into each other at the bonfire and she struck up a conversation, let you tell her our story and display all of our problems to the world. That’s when this picture was taken, when someone had the thought to snap a picture as you leaned in to kiss her. They probably did it to stir up drama to spice up their own lives, probably didn’t know the tears that would be shed.
All I can ask myself is, can I really blame you? Maybe we weren’t as in love as I thought. Maybe this time I said too much, or maybe even it was a buildup of problems that you just can't stand anymore. It was probably me, with the delusion that I could say what I want and you would put up with me, that drove you into her arms. No, there’s no probably in that. It was me.
But a simple “I've had enough” would have been better than this.
Before I can think about this anymore, a footstep makes me turn around and blink the tears away. You stand there with your hands in your pockets, your face composed but your eyes scrutinizing my face. I should know better, after eight years of knowing you, than to think I can hide anything from those deep green eyes. Especially now, after days of crying and sleepless nights of asking myself, “what now?”
You open your mouth, but instead I hold up my phone, the screen and the picture still visible. My throat closes up again and it’s everything in my power to keep it together, when I'm sure that you know that I'm falling to pieces. You stare at the picture for what seems like forever, then you close your eyes as if you're in pain.
For once, it takes you a moment to come up with a response. “Maddie, you know I—that didn’t mean anything. I was hurt and I didn’t know what to do and—”
“And what, Adam?” I whisper, too hurt to yell anymore. It all seemed okay before this, like I couldn’t possibly raise my voice enough for you to walk away. Now, even though it’s too late to bring you back, I don’t trust my voice enough to even speak to you. “You could have told me that you didn’t love me anymore.”
Your eyes flash open. “You think I don’t love you anymore?” you ask, your voice tortured.
I stare at you for a moment, trying to make sense of your words. I didn’t expect that answer. I expected more yelling, or at least not this. Not for you to deny what’s so very clear. I want to tell you to stop your lies, they're not sparing any feelings. Part of me wants to yell and scream and ask you what you could possibly be thinking, but we both know I don’t want to hear the answer to that question. Besides, all the yelling and the fight in me has vanished. The four letter words and the name calling have no place here.
Instead of yelling, I release my grip on the one thing that ever made sense.
By doing this, I lose my grip on everything else. The hold I have on the tears lurking behind my eyes crumbles to dust and they come spilling out. The ring on my hand, the promise ring you’d given me sophomore year, slips off my finger. I step forward and grasp your wrist, letting the ring slip out of my hands altogether and into the palm of your hand. The moment that my heart truly breaks is when I fold your fingers over the ring, because I know that it’s the last time our hands will never touch. You stare at me, seemingly frozen by my touch. You still stand motionless, looking at the ring as I finally get the courage to pull my hand from yours. Every step away from you is the most painful step I've taken in my life, but I use the last shred of fight in me. I force myself not to look back as I walk away from the past two years.