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Truth Never Proved True
She sat on the park bench, thinking.
She was mostly at fault here; after all, she was in perfect control of her actions. His reaction was expected, but yet it hit her like a bullet, quick with a side of pain to follow. She pulled her knees to her chest and fought back tears. The sun shone brightly, having no mercy on her. As if she deserved it. It made her more exhausted than she already was, but why bother trying to sum up the energy on a lost cause?
Of course, he wouldn’t want anything to do with her! Especially after that ordeal. Her face landed on top of her knees, and a thin, salty river broke through and ran down her cheeks. Her hand swiped them quickly away, and she kept her eyes closed, though it didn’t help.
Talk about the biggest mistake of her life.
If she said she couldn’t live without him, that would be pathetic and fairly cliché, but the plain truth was it was difficult not having him around. For what reason? That was hard to place. She felt hollow. How could he make that happen with a cold stare? It only lasted a couple of seconds but the aftershock was what really shook her.
She took in a breath and tried to calm herself down. After all, she was in public now, and that was the whole reason why she left the confines of her room. By herself she looked like an idiot, but out here, she figured, she would try to make herself look better, even if her insides disappeared on her. How could all of these people be… happy? Laughing? The temperature was high, and it was irritating. Everyone enjoying themselves mocked her rather than cheered her up like she expected. No, laughter wasn’t infectious at all. Just another lie disproved, and perhaps later in life, she could use this and figure that it’s much less enjoyable to watch or hear others’ happiness when in misery. The lesson she had to learn now was harder to learn, because it wasn’t easy looking into the future and using it.
A hand rubbed her back lightly, causing her to shiver despite the heat. Maybe it was her own imagination, a hallucination due to the temperature. Maybe she was so desperately lonely that she imagined him there.
Wasn’t he supposed to be gone?
Another breath tried to enter her lungs but didn’t quite make it past her throat.
“I’m sorry!” she croaked without looking up. “I’m sorry!” Her voice was faint and didn’t feel like working to its full potential. Not that it ever had much anyway.
The hand pulled her up from the bench, but she refused to look at anything above the ground. “Come on,” coaxed his voice, “It’ll be fine.”
Will it? She thought. You left me like this.
“We can talk about it, if you want.” He guided her further and further away from the sunlight into a forest that she never noticed before. She didn’t like forests; it felt odd to be shaded from the heat of day to the cool of night under a canopy of dark emerald green.
It wasn’t long that she figured out that she could walk without his help, and it was more efficient that way as well. The smooth wood of the park bench and the burning rays of the sun seemed long gone. It was her nature to trip and fall, especially because of the oddly angled roots, but it was strange enough that he was patient as they made their way deeper and deeper. Neither knew where to stop, nor even did eitherwant to. How far did this forest go? She never bothered to find out before, nor would she have ever had he not wanted a conversation.
Not just a conversation. A private one. Just the two of them.
They sat down on the uneven dirt, almost in unison, when the forest was thick enough for them to feel safe from being overheard. She leaned back on a tree, but they were rather close to each other, the closest they’ve ever been. If she wanted to, she could’ve stolen a kiss on his neck without moving more than six inches forward.
She couldn’t look at anything but his neck, directly in front of her. Her insides returned from their trek to their spot, but tangled themselves on their vacation away. Her stomach was in her throat, and her heart was all over the place at once. She gulped.
“Are you all right?” he asked casually, his right arm brushing her left arm gently. She nodded quickly.
“I guess it’s… nice.”
Her breath shook as he helped her sit up straighter.
“Are you sure you want to talk now?” he mumbled softly.
“Yes,” she replied. It wasn’t a confident yes. Realizing this, he pulled her close in a gentle embrace. Her head tilted to the side on his left shoulder. She wanted to be happy she was here with him, but under these circumstances it just wasn’t possible. Guilt consumed her and took its toll on the mind.
“I don’t have much to say,” he whispered. “I thought you’d like a place where you could just tell me everything you wanted to.”
It was what she’d been waiting for. But why couldn’t she speak now, here, when she’d been begging for days for this chance? She pulled her arms around his waist and held him tightly. Her eyes stung violently and the details of the textural wood blurred into a messy palette of brown.
He looked up at the darkening canopy. The little sunlight that broke through disappeared, though it was hard to tell if it were small wispy clouds coincidentally aligned above them that blotted out the sunlight, or a larger cloud driven by the wind, growing darker and stronger by the mile.
“You’ve heard me say it before.” She finally decided to say something, but it was muffled. “You’ve heard everything.” Her face was on his shoulder. Something soaked wet through to his shoulder—tears? Well, she was an emotional one. He patted her lightly.
More moments passed without so much as a word between the two. Her mind repeated words she wished to say, but couldn’t for fear of looking foolish, opposite from his which refused to stay on one thought for more than a few seconds.
There simply was no way to say “I’m sorry” any differently than lined with guilt. She’d echoed it to him many times before, and surely he was tired of hearing it. It wouldn’t help now either—if he wanted to forgive her, he would have done it days, or even hours, earlier.
But maybe he brought her here to plead her case. This was her chance. After so many years, they’ve never been this close or this alone. Not even the woodland creatures seemed to want to listen. Perhaps it was the consistent beating of blood in her ears, but she heard little in the forest but their own movement.
Moments felt like months. Both fidgeted every few minutes or so, but it was your perfect love scene.
Only neither thought of love but of guilt and regret.
She lifted her head from his shoulder and looked up at him. He didn’t seem to notice, and simply stared at the branches above. Her gaze didn’t falter from his face as she leaned back against the tree behind her. Taking his arm, she murmured “I’m sorry” solidly, enough for him to hear, but it was like she was learning how to speak again.
“Did you hear me? I said I’m sorry.” He nodded, but his face showed little. He could have been in deep thought; after all, don’t deep thinkers often stare off into space like that? She pulled back from the embrace and entwined her fingers playfully in his.
“I think it’d be nice if…” She took in a breath. “We can just start over?” He didn’t answer. She began shrinking back into her shell, cowering—
“Do you forgive me?”
The question threw him off guard. She’d never asked that before. She always assumed that he would be the one to tell her, that he would be the one who had the time to decide. Normally, it was undecided but passed over. How terrible did she feel, having to ask that? That for once, he had to decide if she deserved his trust?
He didn’t move.
Why did it feel like such a shock? But this type of shock was new; it was neither relief nor anxiousness. She shook her head and crossed her arms.
She didn’t want to cry anymore. She closed her eyes. She was tired, tired of crying, tired of the tears, tired of losing someone else’s game.
He sighed and glanced at her exhausted expression. His hands reached into his pockets. He wasn’t angry. He couldn’t forgive her, but it was difficult to see her suffer. His fingers found what they were looking for, and slowly he took it out of his pocket.
The cold metal didn’t shine, for there was little light for it to reflect. He saw her face against the flat side of the blade, eyes wide open.
He stared at her, and she stared back. She wasn’t surprised at all, nor was she scared.
She wrapped her hand around his that held the knife, and sat up straight. She held it at arm’s length away. In it, she saw a boy and girl, whose smiles were full of content. Their eyes didn’t look at her, but at each other, sparking guiltless. She gulped and pulled the dream away.
He didn’t understand what she was doing. He saw his face tired with stress that he never noticed. He shook his head and pulled the reflection away.
She looked in his eyes. I’m sorry, she thought, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. His eyes lost the joy that it once had when they first met. Please?
He pulled away from her stare, her eyes glossed with tears. She was pleading, even now. He pointed the knife at her chest.
She closed her eyes. Her hand gripped the cold knife tighter, knowing where to aim.
No noise came from her. No scream, no struggle. The knife made its mark, staining itself with crimson. She didn’t let go, but made no effort to pull it away as blood flowed from the wound and all over her arms. He let go of it almost immediately to catch her falling body in his arms so real, as if she imagined them there.
Nothing was left and nothing was taken but a truth never proved true.