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tales of something simple - parallel perceptions: a short story

i believe

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

all types of chaos

parallel perceptions: a short story

I didn’t know what chemistry between two people meant until I met her.  The first moment I saw her she was laughing.  To this day, I love to watch her laugh.  How her mouth parts, cheeks red, head tilted back, and smiling.  I found myself imagining what it would be like to run my fingers through her sunny hair or trace the beauty marks on her face before I even found out her name.  I thought about what the cotton of her button-down blouse would feel like between my fingers, or the softness of her bare feet touching mine under the sheets.  She was disarming.

I entrusted my heart with him.  His messiness always drove me crazy.  I liked the way he said my name.  I missed him when he was gone.  When we were first together he wanted to learn every inch of me, even my stupid little quirks. He made a bad day better, until my bad days were because of him.  Over time, he made being together too hard.  He made me feel like I wasn’t enough.  When I began making plans for a vacation this summer, he seemed distant, uninterested.  Somehow I knew.  I began to question my own happiness, wondering what I was missing.  I thought that if I said enough, if I did enough, if I drove the extra miles, I could convince him, even myself, that it would never be the same with anyone else.  I was wrong.

She always seemed to know what she wanted. I was the object of her affection.  I have to admit, it scared me.  But the idea of being without her scared me.  The truth is, I didn’t know what I wanted.  I wanted her, but I wanted someone else too.  As I got dressed I noticed something.  The shirt I was wearing was one she had bought me last Christmas.  I had on the faded denim jeans I got while she was with me.  I saw the reflection of her picture sitting on my desk behind me.  She was everywhere.  And somehow it made me need less of her.

She was everything I ever wanted in another person.  Every time I saw her, I wanted more.  I liked the way she moved, how she talked.  When I had a problem she listened.  Somehow the way she hugged me, the way she would wrap her arms around my waist, or put her thumb on the small of my back made everything better.  Sometimes when she would sleep, I would stay up just to watch her.  I would trace the outline of her mouth, her eyelashes, and her fingers.  She loved me in a way that I liked being loved.  Love wasn’t enough.

As I parked along the curb of his street, I pulled down the mirror in front of me.  My mascara had run, my face was splotchy and red.  I smoothed the invisible wrinkles out of my pants and shirt.  I took a deep breath.  I didn’t feel quite ready to get out of the car.  I didn’t know what would happen once I went inside.  I felt as if someone had stopped loving me and forgot to give me the news.

She sat Indian style across from me as I thumbed through the scrapbook she had brought with her.  Dozens of photographs, hundreds of memories lined the pages, reminding me of the history we had made together.  Somewhere along the way I had given up, and I didn’t know how to find my way back to the candid snapshots that sat in my lap.  I know why she brought it.  She wanted to give me another last reason why I should stay. The last photograph was a black and white of her, looking off to the side.  I looked up from the book and into her eyes.  Her face told me everything she felt.  Mine said that I was sorry.

I wonder when it happened.  I wonder when his kisses where delivered with only half meaning.  When did the doubt begin?  Did he lie in bed next to me, while thinking of her?  I didn’t know when it changed, when we stopped working together, and started routing for opposite teams.  Maybe I trusted too much.  Maybe we both wanted more.  Maybe we sacrificed more than we should have.  Maybe I let him get away with exactly what he wanted.  I begged for the truth until my voice was hoarse, my throat burned, my heart bled.  I sat across from him, tears spilled from my tired eyes, pleading to understand.  I wanted him to see it though my eyes for one last time, and I broke, when I found out that he couldn’t.

We stood at the end of my driveway as the sun began to drop lazily in the sky around us.  She had never looked so beautiful, so vulnerable.  I suddenly wanted to take it all back, but her empty eyes, told me that I couldn’t.  Maybe we never truly know ourselves until the end of a relationship.  Maybe we never truly know ourselves until the last hurtful words, the last long silences, and the final curtain has closed.  It wasn’t until that moment, holding onto the body of a person that I had discovered night after night, that I realized…

I stood there in my pink flip-flops, touching his hands.  I missed him already.  It was over.  And than I knew what it all meant.  Not everyone was going to see it.  They weren’t going to understand.  They could say it was another girl.  Fear.  Maybe it was time.  That I wanted too much.  He wasn’t ready.  But, whether either of us knew it or not, all we wanted was for the other person to love us on the same level.  Because I hurt as the lesser loved one.  He hurt because he was the better loved half.  No matter what we did, there would have always been forty miles of road stretching between us.  And regardless of what happened, it was always going to be there.  I let go of his hands and slid into my driver’s seat.  I drove home with the sunroof open, in silence.  I took the last exit before the toll bridge, where broken hearts leave for free.

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