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He And The Woman
She watched him carefully, knowing that he could not see her. He watched her too, though. Both of them puppets to the other. It was the two of them each in an empty, dark room, staring through their minds eye at each other but neither seeing what was there.
He was lonely, and though he would never admit it, he was scared too. Scared to lose her. Scared to have her. Scared of everything and nothing. He was scared that he would hurt her just like he had hurt all of the others.
She had always been afraid. She hoped he would hold her and erase her fears, but first she would have to let him get close enough to touch her. She would have to tear down her own walls from the inside, but only when she saw him working to tear them down from the outside. She was a romantic at heart, though she would never admit it.
She was falling in love with him. Slowly, but it still seemed too fast for her. She had long ago convinced herself that she would never be the one to fall in love. She knew that she was the sidekick to whomever the hero was. Yet, here she was, dreading the very thing she had secretly hoped for.
He was falling for her too. His was a much faster fall. His arms ached to hold her close and soothe away all of her fears, but he was afraid that she would think him too forward, or worse, below her noticing. He knew how much more refined she was than him, and he hoped perhaps that love would win out like it always did in the movies. However, he did not hold out much hope that it would. She seemed so distant. The only time he thought he could see her was the moments when she was unaware he was watching.
He loved what he saw, the amazing capacity for love that he saw in her expressions. And love she did, everything around her. She loved the chairs in the choir room which were never organized the same way twice. She loved the changing leaves outside the windows in her classes. She loved to laugh, and he loved her laugh. But most of all, she loved people. She loved being around them and being there for them. She loved to help them. He loved that about her. And he desperately wanted to be loved by her.
He tried to impress her the way he had impressed the others, but her reactions were not what he expected. When he vaulted a railing, instead of being impressed, she was afraid for his safety. He didn't understand it, she wasn't reacting the way she was supposed to. She cared for him and his safety, and he wasn't expecting that. It took him some time to realize that she was not like the other girls. She would not merely swoon when he lifted something heavy for her, instead she would help him lift it.
This was a novelty for him, and he didn't know how to react to it. She was not a girl, she was a true Woman as he had only heard and read about in stories or seen in movies. She needed a true man, and he was determined to find a way to be such for her. Only, he did not know how. She was a new challenge for him, and he was never one to turn down a challenge.
Eventually though, he became tired of that challenge and slunk away from her. He turned to a girl she mentored instead, but the girl rejected him. He turned then to one of his ex's, but she also rejected him again. All the while, he would meet the eyes of The Woman, and see the Great Sadness that dwelt there--the sadness caused by him. He went back to The Woman, and despite all of her determination to reject him as well, she could not.
She fought against her heart with all of her might, and even found other Women to help her fight. She could not. This was love, and love was ever victorious. She allowed him to return. He did, and as he did, he picked up the challenge again, which was heavier now that he had cause The Woman the Great Sadness.
The Woman, not knowing his burden, encouraged him in all he did, but she did so guardedly because of the Great Sadness. It hung over her and clung to her, reminding her of his leaving and how much she wished to dismiss him as easily as she had seen the others do. She could not find a way to do so.
The Woman allowed him to hold her once after the Great Sadness. She could not allow it for long because of herself. Her heart sputtered and her mind froze the moment. She was almost out of breath when she pulled away, but she wouldn't let him see that, she couldn't. Her own reaction scared her too much. At times, in her dark empty room, that moment would come to her mind and she would feel his arms around her again.
He, at the same time, would imagine the way she had melted into his chest and his arms would ache to hold her so close again. Try as he might, he could not get The Woman out of his head, nor the way she had turned away from him so quickly, but not so quickly that he did not see the way heat rose on her cheeks nor the suddenly rapid rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. He had wanted to reach out and turn The Woman's face to look at him so that he could see her eyes, but he didn't for fear that the Great Sadness might still linger there.