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“It’s hard, isn’t it? Being with the one you love?” I looked up at him, watching how the sun played with his face, the glow that took my breath away.
“Yes,” he whispered, looking down, as if ashamed at his thoughts. “Harder than you will ever imagine.”
“Why?” I asked, not understanding. How could love hurt so much?
“Because I’m not sure if she loves me.” His response was short, simple yet it shimmered with the pain in his heart. His words held truth to them. It was hard, loving someone who could never love you back.
“Who is she?” I whispered. “You tell me so much about her, yet I have no idea who she is.”
He laughed, the sound full of darkness. “And hopefully it stays that way.”
Now it was my turn to look down. His words struck a chord, etched a deep wound in my heart. “You don’t trust me?”
He smiled apologetically. “I do. But this is something I cannot tell you.” He looked away, hiding his face.
I looked up at the sky, which was setting now. The sky looked radiant, with so many pretty colors bleeding out of the sunset. Yet, the beauty was quickly overshadowed by the pain as the darkness slowly began to consume us. I smiled sadly as we were eaten, lost in the shadows. Yet, I was grateful to the darkness. It hid my tears, and concealed my pain for love that was barren to me and impossible.
The first time I saw him, he took my breath away. He was beautiful. There was no other word to describe him. Beautiful. I wonder what it was that called me to him. I wonder if it was his dark hair that glimmered like the night. Maybe it was his olive skin color, that looked soft to touch, yet hard with many scars acquired from worrying over the years. Or just maybe it was his eyes, his beautiful dark eyes that were so full of sorrow yet hid everything that would make anyone else worry. There was something different about him that made him stand out. Was it his looks that made gods look ugly next to him? Was it his style that would have any designer cover with embarrassment? Or was it the kindness? The sorrow that he held and tried to hid from his siblings who played on the play ground in the mall? I could tell he was used to suffering on his own by the way he looked down, as if willing himself not to break down and cry, yet smiled every time one of his siblings called out to him.
I noticed how he kept staring at the shop right in front of him, at a gorgeous diamond statue of a beautiful bird. Though I could tell the diamonds were fake, I could see the beauty of this statue and the pain it caused him that he was unable to buy it. I could tell as he pulled out a few bills from his pocket every now and then and counted them, as if hoping more would magically appear. None did. Finally, I saw the pain in his eye as the cashier took the bird off the viewing case and wrapped it for a blonde girl. As she grabbed the bag and was about to walk out, I noticed that something else caught her eye. She argued with the man, begging him, I believe, to take back the bird. He nodded sadly and indicated to a sign that read “No returns.” I could see the boy’s eyes tighten as he realized that he had lost the prize to a person who would never appreciate the gift. It would be for nothing. Finally, I’d had enough.
I walked into the shop and checked the prize of the object that had caught the girl’s eye. ”$29.99” the tag read. I smiled knowing I had just enough money to buy it. I took it to the cashier, where the man and girl stood arguing.
“Please,” she begged. “I don’t have enough to buy both and that would be the perfect gift for my mother! Please!”
I sighed and then placed the ornament on the counter. “I’ll take it,” I said as the man rang it up. I paid for it and waited as he wrapped it up. The girl sighed sadly and turned to leave. “You really want it?” I asked, not looking at her.
I could tell that she turned and muttered, “It doesn’t matter.”
“I’ll trade it. For whatever you bought from here.”
I could hear her stop and turn around, walking back to me. “Really? You sure?”
“Yeah,” I answered, grabbing the package from the man. “Thank you,” I addressed him. And then I handed it to her in exchange for the bird. She left the shop happily and I walked towards the door.
“Hey, girlie, you do realize that that bird you got wasn’t worth as much as what you gave her right?” the man called out, wiping the counter.
I turned and smiled at him. “Yeah, I know,” I said, leaving the store. I looked around, hoping the boy had not left yet. Thankfully he was still there, sitting with the same pained expression as when I had first seen him, though now it seemed miserable. I sighed and then walked over to him. “Hey.”
“Hey,” he said, looking surprised. His voice was like an angel’s, deep, rich, like black satin. It was soft, with kindness yet sprinkled with a little pain. It was gorgeous.
“Why do you look so down?” I asked, hoping he would not be frightened by a stranger such as myself.
“Do I?” he asked, looking at me with wide eyes. I guess he hoped that he had concealed it better.
I nodded. “Yeah, you do, but don’t worry. It’s not something they can tell,” I said, indicating to his two little siblings, a pain of blond twins.
He laughed and the sighed. “You’re pretty observant then,” he muttered under his breath.
“Most of the time,” I answered, looking down. I reached into the bag in my hand and pulled out a black, satin box. I opened it to make sure the bird was in there and then I handed it to him. “Give it to whoever you want to give it to,” I said, getting up. “I hope that makes them very happy.”
He stared at it with his mouth wide open and his eyes bright. I began to walk away when he suddenly caught my hand. “How did you know?” he asked quietly.
“You kept staring at it,” I whispered, trying to break free of his grip, on both my hand and my heart.
I tried to walk away. “Thank you,” he whispered. His voice stopped my heart and I turned to see his glorious expression. He was smiling, happiness touching his eyes. I could not help but smile slightly at the joy on his face.
I nodded sheepishly. “You’re welcome.” I took a step forward and then continued as I broke his grasp on me. I tried to run away, yet he grabbed my hand once again and kept me in the place I most wanted to be. By his side.
“Wait!” he said, pulling me towards him. “Can I at least know your name?”
I sighed and then whispered, “Sarah.”
I could feel him smile as he said, “Hello, Sarah. My name is Jake, Jake Hunter.”
I smiled as I learned his name, engraved it into my heart. “Hello Jake, it’s nice to meet you.”
And that is how I fell in love with the musician, Jacob Conner Hunter.