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She was trapped inside herself. Alone with her thoughts she felt she might go crazy. She had hurt him, she could tell. He was in it and she’d had one foot out the door the entire time. She’d never even given him a chance, but kept him close anyways. She was a foolish woman for thinking it was without consequence and she knew she had to apologize for it.
She sat down at her kitchen table with papers and a single ink pen. If it didn’t write, she wouldn’t. It did write however, though she could not. She wanted to, but an apology was an easier idea than an execution. She could say she was sorry, but that wasn't enough. He needed the truth - the whole truth; and she would give it to him.
She twirled the pen in her fingers a moment trying to gather her thoughts. A cluster of emotions and metaphors took shape in her mind and so she wrote. She wrote for an hour straight, her hand flying across the page. She hardly stopped to uncramp her hand as her thoughts leaked from her pores and into her scribbles. She did pause once briefly, to sip her coffee and smile at the memory of him and laugh at that evening.
She glanced at what she had written so far, and shivered with anticipation of him seeing the ink on the pages that she had thrust herself into. She wrote and as she finished, she wondered if he would ever forgive her for her ignorance. It was chicken scratch, she thought when she was done, but now it was his chicken scratch. She grabbed an envelope to address it, licked the sticky edge - careful not to cut her tongue, and thrust a stamp in the corner. She ran down the lane to the mailbox just in time to catch the postal worker. She ran to his door and before she could change her mind, she handed it to him.
He had a letter, his mother told him. She didn’t say who it was from, just that it was his. He looked at the return address and retreated to the privacy of his room. He opened the letter and he was taken aback. A page and a half of her handwriting, of words meant for him, and so he began. His eyes flickered from word to word as he read, in his opinion, the dearest love letter ever written.
I was in a shelter hardly suited for the raining of bombs that were descending. But you crawled up next to me and held my hand through it, without touching me at all. The bombs stopped and the smoke cleared but you were still there with me. It was maybe the first of many times and maybe the last of so few times. Little did we know that the real war would come later and from inside the shelter.
I got lost in this nostalgic world where we alone existed. I was drowning in all the possibilities of what we were and what we could be. I was lost in the lost hopes of dead dreams and alive heartbeats. Running and laughing and chasing each other and our dreams. Blowing bubbles as children together and stuck in our own little bubble as young adults.
I wish you would hold me up like you did when you packed me on your shoulder. When the unspoken chemistry that hung in the air exploded for those few seconds. I wish you would show me how you would love me if only for a few unseen minutes, like you do when you forget we're not alone. If nothing had been in between us, what would you have done? Would you have finally pulled me close if his arm hadn’t been around me?
We laughed and I leaned towards you as I laughed, as if though to remind you that that laugh was for you and not for the intruder draped over me. You smiled as you laughed and you tapped my shoulder reminding me of our bubble. It was such a small gesture - just a tap on the shoulder - but the meaning of it made me sigh inwardly in contentment. It was as if when you were touching me, I didn’t feel the initial shock through all my adrenaline, but later I felt the aftershocks in every cell of my being.
Arguing over the silliest things is what we do best. Which superhero trumps who in a battle and whose house should we study at? We could be arguing over anything and we’d be happy just to be near one another. As you sat on the arm of my chair and let me look up to you as you talked, I was blissful to simply exist with you.
I knew what was happening, but I pushed it from my mind and danced on. I was dancing with you as you were dancing away with my heart. You brought my heart back though, and you returned it to me before I could miss a beat of it or a step in our song. Our song that played continually in the background of our moments. Our little moments that meant so much and yet nothing at all. Nothing to you or to me and nothing to all of those around us.
So few hours that stretched before us like the horizons of our future. The future that I could see so clearly. You in our house and rocking the baby; and me at the stove preparing dinner and looking out the opening at my boys while another little one stands beside me in an apron with flour on her hands. So far into the future, a future not set in stone like the ground we danced upon. Yet I knew it could be, if I would let it.
But I was scared and you were unaware of all of these hidden thoughts and so I kept them hidden, along with my face and then I walked away from our waltz of feelings. Casual, so casual to walk away. Because after all we are just friends and there's nothing unfriendly about having other friends. Friends with possibilities, the same possibilities as you and I. Though those possibilities seemed farther away and looked to have less light in them.
I knew where you stood and I stood there too, but I stood there on a cloud instead of solid ground. Constantly shifting my feet and sinking from that cloud over and over again. Constantly climbing back up into the heavens to reach that cloud once more. Standing there on that cloud with you never seemed so right until you walked off of it and roamed the endless skies for something more solid than what I was able to provide.
You were always in that bubble waiting for me and I came and went as I pleased. I didn’t realize how precarious the bubble was and how easy it was becoming to pop. It wasn’t until days later when you left, that I heard that awful sound. A horrible release of air, like it was gasping for breath it had been denied. I could see the nonchalant look on your face while I stood aghast in shock.
Now I stand here alone in the bubble, our bubble, atop the cloud, our cloud, waiting and wondering if you’ll ever come back. You’d told me yes for so long that I’d been unable to fathom what life without you would be like. Didn’t I know I would think about those few hours for so many weeks? I thought I knew that it would never work, or perhaps it scared me that it just might. Perhaps it still scares me that the only thing I love more than being with you - is you.
Too many emotions intruded his mind as he reflected on all that she had admitted. He laid the letter down gently on the table. He wiped a hand over his face and let out a breath he'd been holding for too long. He needed to tell her that he had never truly left that cloud and he’d blow her a bubble a day for the rest of her life if she’d let him. He smiled once more as he grabbed the letter and his car keys.
He left in a rush, without bothering to grab his coat from the peg and without waiting for the car to warm. He was already so warm and fuzzy he didn’t see the need. He drove and he pondered what to say to her. What could he possibly say to her to make her understand how much he cared for her? Love was too cliche - though it was true. Deep regardes sounded like a Hallmark card. She’d always been better with words, though apparently his silence was not unheard.
Only fifteen minutes of wondering before he had reached her house. It had been two days since she wrote it, what if she had changed her mind? He sat at the wheel for a moment, he could leave - she’d never know. He could say he’d never received the letter and that it had gotten lost in the mail. Why a letter anyhow? They had so many other ways of communication nowadays. It was just like her to go out of her way to make something ordinary into something extraordinary.
Had he really come this far to back down? No, he decided he had not. A seatbelt unbuckled and a car door opened. He emerged from the vehicle with the confidence of a newborn calf and took those 12 steps up to her door. He knocked a rhythm from a movie familiar to them both. Knock knock knock-knock knock.
She opened the door with a great swing, expecting the UPS delivery guy. What she found instead was her muse for the words on the parchment she had written. He found a woman with her hair in a messy bun wearing a sweatshirt and torn jeans, without so much as a smudge of makeup on her face. Her eyes were wide as Bambi’s and her mouth opened and closed as a fish in a bowl. He smiled at this face.
She stood in shock, looking for the words to say, but she had said them all in the letter and had no more to spare. She had known he would read the letter, but imagined she had at least another day before he got it. He was smiling at her and so she smiled back an unsure smile. “Your doorstep is hardly airborne, but metaphorically speaking, it could be a cloud.” She paused, she laughed heartily, and then she stepped down onto their metaphorical cloud.