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Three words. Not the three words, but still. Three words. Who knew they could seem so insignificant but in fact mean the beginning of the end?
I thought back to mere months before. I was with Noah. We had driven to the coast to spend a day on the shore, just the two of us. We were in college, but we still rushed down to the water as soon as we got there and began work on our sandcastle.
When I wasn’t looking, Noah ran up behind me and lifted me with ease before dashing straight into the cold waves. I shrieked and tried to resist, but I secretly didn’t much mind being in his arms. He kissed me, and I kissed him back, not knowing it would be one of our last.
He drove us home that night. I wish my memories of that day weren’t so vivid, but I could still plainly picture us standing on my front porch, procrastinating his leave. It pained me to remember, but I wasn’t so sure I was ready to forget either.
I thanked him for the day together, and he said it was unnecessary, but I didn’t take it back. I said I owed him a day out; he said he could owe me a million days out and still not deserve me. I told him he was silly.
Then he kissed me. It was for the last time, but how could I have known that then?
“See you later,” he told me with a familiar sparkle in his eyes before turning to go. Three words. A promise that he would make an effort to see me again very soon.
I took it for granted. I never will again.
That was three months ago. I never realized how quickly things could change, but here we were again. Me and Noah. Trying to make awkward small talk, and failing horribly.
He asked about my family, I asked about his. He rocked back on his heels, looking around uncomfortably. I kept my gaze averted and didn’t think about the ways in which we went wrong.
Finally, the line moved and it was my turn. I turned to say goodbye, but knowing that this was likely the last time I would see him, adequate words escaped my mind in that instant.
I wanted to walk forward and wrap my arms around him, hug him one last time. Make sure he knows that I’ll never forget him. Make sure he knows I’ll never regret him. Regret that we fell apart, yes, but I’ll never look down upon the time we had together.
But in the seconds where I stood there facing him, my mouth open but no sound coming out, he said the three words that I never thought I would hear from Noah. Three words that held no promise, nothing to assure me that I would see him again soon.
“See you around.”