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The Love That Stole the Girl
I sighed, and rested my leg against his toned calf. I knew he was looking at me, but I couldn’t meet his eyes. I traced stars on his hand and pretended to study the dirt in his finger nails.
“Emma,” he said, pleading with me, “please just understand for a second where I’m coming from here. It’s hard enough without you putting me on a guilt trip.”
“Oh, so that’s what I am to you now,” I said quietly, angrily, “Some girl in your life who makes you feel guilty.” I knew I should’ve been a good girl and let him go peacefully, but what about me? Did he ever think of me?
He sighed too, and lifted my chin up so he could see my face. I tried to swap my small frown for a resigned smile. He laughed, and leaned in to kiss me. I tried to linger there, wishing we could sit there on my front porch, entwined for all of eternity.
He wrenched away, bringing me slamming back down to reality. My sad, tormented reality. And screw the next person to tell me I was being dramatic.
He got up, not looking at me anymore. He was getting ready to leave.
As hard as I tried to stop, warm tears started spilling out onto my face. I didn’t want him to see me cry. I knew he had to leave; I just didn’t want it to be true.
Actually, I had been praying that it wasn’t true for the past two months. Ever since Kev had told me that he was moving, I had been frantically denying any sign that he was telling the truth. His mom left, real estate agents went in and out, and sometime last week the movers had come and packed away his life, as if they could put parts of such an amazing person into cardboard boxes. But lately we spend so much time together I barely realize the day of the week, let alone the foreboding signs.
He looked up and saw me, and took my hand, pulling me down to sit with him in the soft summer grass.
“Hey now,” he said, looking at me with his irresistible chocolate brown eyes, “it won’t be so bad,” he tried to reassure me.
“Easy for you to say. Do you know how many beautiful blondes occupy the state of California?” I asked him bitterly. He shrugged his shoulders and I said, “A lot.”
“Yea, well do you know how many beautiful red heads there are in Chicago?”
I gave him a sheepish smile, and then he told me there was only one. I laughed, but it didn’t last long. It seemed like every time he did something adorable and amazing I only regretted that there wouldn’t be many times like that left. And with every regret, I realized I was wasting precious seconds that I could be with him. It was a vicious cycle.
“Kevin,” I started again.
“What?” he answered after a short pause.
“Why can’t you just stay here? With us?” My parents and my brother all loved Kevin, and it hurt everyone to see him go.
He swallowed hard, shaking his head. “I can’t. I- I wish I could make you understand why.”
“Try. Or can you at least tell me why you’re leaving?”
He bit his lip and scrunched up his eyes, like he was thinking really hard about something. Exhausted and out of words to plead with, I just watched his face, wondering what he could possibly be concentrating so hard about.
We sat in silence for a while, I’m not sure how long really. I snapped out of my reverie when I realized that the sun had gone down: the warm summer air was leaving, and I was suffering a chill from the unusual, nippy, August breeze. I turned to Kevin to ask him if he wanted to go inside. He wasn’t there.
How the heck had he left? I wondered frantically. And why hadn’t he said goodbye. I bit my lip anxiously, looking around and getting up to walk around back to see if his car was still parked in the alley. It was, so I took a deep breath. Okay, he hasn’t left. So where did he-
“Oof,” I cried out as the air was knocked from my lungs. I flipped around to see what had just run into me. A dark figure, short but nimble, fleeted past my eyes so fast I didn’t know if I actually saw it. I ran around the corner to try and snag a glimpse of it. It rested motionless on my blue garbage can, so still that I looked past it, but then it darted off again, catching my eye. I got the impression that it- I couldn’t quite identify it as a human- wanted me to follow.
I clumsily pursued it over the fence in the back of the alley- a feat that it seemed to accomplish with an impossible flying leap. I fell awkwardly, ripping my jeans and caking my hands in mud. Before I could find an identifying footprint in the soft ground, it was already scuttling through the empty, muddy property. It seemed to move even faster now, but I couldn’t keep up. With every step my shoes stuck in the mud, making my legs feel like they were being pulled into the Earth. The weeds seemed to grow thicker as well. I swiped them aside as they got taller, pushing into my face and preventing me from moving forward.
When I looked up again, the little figure in black had gone. The sky was pitch black, and the forest that had somehow sprung up around me was too dense to see further than my hand. I turned back dejectedly and wondered why the heck I didn’t know about this overgrown garden before. This was the outskirts of Chicago, for Pete’s sake. Not the jungles of Brazil.
Actually, it was worse than the jungles of Brazil. I walked for a long time, stumbling and faltering on every random stump and thorny bush. A light bulb went on it my head: I have my phone, I’ll just text Kevin. I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and pressed the on button. Instead of the usual background picture of Kevin and me, a weird swirling image presented itself. I became hypnotized by the serene blues and pinks that seemed to suck me in. I leaned into my phone, trying to get closer and closer, trying to immerse myself in the beauty and the colors.
I blinked, and the image was gone. In fact, my phone and the dense foliage around me had completely vanished. I was staring at a great immense of… nothing.
Amid this nothingness appeared the only thing I knew was true. I rushed toward Kevin, expecting to feel his warm, strong embrace; I longed for his soothing voice that would make everything okay.
I was thoroughly confused when I wrapped my arms around my boyfriend of six-two. Instead of feeling his big, strong arms and smelling his delicious body wash, I felt two pointy ears. I looked down with a gasp as I smelled a much different odor- one of nature.
“What are you,” I sputtered at the small, black elfish creature whom I had been chasing moments before.
“It’s me,” the creature said in a voice so familiar I gasped, “Kevin.”
I shook my head back and forth, attempting to put distance between myself and this horrible nightmare. “No,” I tried to tell myself, “This can’t be true. What did you do with my Kevin?” My body started to shake violently. I was scared for the decision I knew I would have to make.
He- the creature- my Kevin, didn’t say a word. He just looked at me, pleading with his eyes, but understanding my dilemma all the same.
It broke my heart. But not as much as I knew my heart would be broken if I didn’t make the right decision.
I stepped forward towards the stumpy, black elf kid. And then I took his hands into mine.
“Kevin,” I said, my heart beating ferociously, “I only want to be with you, forever.”
“Say it,” he told me, “make it real.”
“I love you,” I told him. And I meant it, even if it meant the end of everything I had ever known.
He leaned in to kiss me. I knew I had changed before it was over. But if love was going to steal me away, there was no other person I wanted to be stolen by then him- my Kevin.