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Pondering a Ghost
"I love you," he said. He took a deep breath, a long sigh. "I needed to tell you that."
I tried to make him meet my gaze, but he just turned away. His shoulders were hunched, slightly shaking. Is he crying? Oh, f***. Great. He knows I don't know how to deal with tears, that I've never been good at giving emotional support.
"Why are you telling me this?" I asked, but already knew the answer. I knew I was too late.
"I'm leaving." I swear the words left his lips the exact second I thought them through in my head.
It took me a long moment to respond. What was I supposed to say? After four years of us, what was I supposed to do?
"Okay," I said slowly, unsure of my own voice. "So that's it." It's not a question.
"I'm so sor--" he started.
And all of a sudden, it hit me. He was leaving. Me. Our life. It meant nothing.
"What the f***? Are you kidding me? ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME?" I stared at his back, wide-eyed, on the verge of tears. "After everything?"
"Everything," he mumbled.
"Yes, everything," I spat at him. "I don't know how you could just walk away after everything."
He finally turned to me, stood up straight. He looked me directly in the eye and said, "That was High School."
I started. It's like his words had just kicked all the air out of my body, setting fire to my lungs. I can't breathe for a second, I just stand and stare.
I wasn't angry anymore, I just want to crumble into dust, let the wind direct my life now. I silently choke back the tears, and met his eyes. I stared into their questionable depths and waited, waited for him to speak.
He took in a breath, seeing the change in my expression. "I didn't mean it like that," he amended.
"Well, how did you mean it, then?" My voice is robotic, inhuman, emotionless. I'm not sure it's even mine.
"Four years ago, we were fifteen. We were kids, stupid and lovesick." He closed his eyes for a minute, swallowed hard. When he opened them again, they were softer. Sincere. "We aren't those kids anymore, please try to understand where I'm coming from... I have to think about my future now, not where I was. I have to think about where I'm going."
"I love you, too," I said abruptly. It was all I could do to keep from breaking down right then and there. I knew he loved me. In his own mind, I knew he was doing the right thing. He wanted us both to have a future of limitless possibilities. He didn't want to drag me down with his future dreams.
His eyes snapped up to mine. There was something about them that still fascinates me to this day. There, in the pure blue of them, was a mix of genuine fear, confusion, love and sorrow. It nearly killed him to let me go, but he did.
I wonder now, thinking back to that moment in my life, if he ever wonders the "what if" I continuously ponder. What if we had both stayed in that town, right where we were. We could have put up with crappy jobs that came without college and lost dreams just to stay together. Because now, we have our careers, our lives, our futures. But what happened to the true, the passionate, and the spell-binding love?