She and Him: A Story

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She sat at the island in the kitchen, talking with his mother and sister. They had a lot of catching up to do; it had been years since she had seen any of them. As they talked, he walked into the room, greeting his family as he placed the sandwiches he had brought home from work on the counter. There was a quick nod in her direction, but no other acknowledgment of her presence. He sat down at the table behind her and exchanged tales of the day’s events with his family. His mother tried to ease the obvious tension, all smiles and easy conversation, though you could see the wheels turning in her head.

He was acting like a stranger, only worse. His coldness towards her was clearly deliberate. A stranger wouldn’t seem so foreign and familiar at the same time. Her heart thumped an uneven rhythm, and she realized she had been on edge since she had arrived, waiting for this moment. She had thought it would be different. It had been a long time since they had seen each other, but still, she had thought it would be different. That he would be excited to see her too. That he would at least be friendly to her. Yes, it had been a long time, but they had been so close once.

A lump formed in her throat and she could feel tears stinging behind her eyes, but she forced a smile onto her face and continued to converse with his mother. His sister had taken her sandwich and disappeared—maybe the tension had become too much for her. He stayed in the room, but only entered the conversation when absolutely necessary, responding with a short answer and a sharp tone. She couldn’t keep from sneaking glances at him as they all talked. He was looking at her, but his blue eyes were like ice, and they matched the frost she heard in his voice. It was all too much for her. This was not the boy she once knew; this was not what she had expected when she decided to come here.

She realized she needed to leave. He obviously didn’t want her here, and it was clear his mother didn’t understand his behavior any more than she did. She stood up, hugging his mother and saying goodbye. She grabbed her purse off the counter, and slung it onto her shoulder, facing him to say goodbye before turning towards the door to leave. As she opened the back door, his mother suggested he walk her out.

She had already stepped outside, but she heard him behind her, and she turned around, feeling awkward now, and unsure of herself. She stared at him, standing in the doorway, his body illuminated in the yellow glow of the kitchen light. He stared back at her, but neither of them said a word. The lump was still in her throat, and she tried to swallow it down, in order to say something to him before she left. Finally, she got her voice to work, cracking a little as she whispered to him.

“Can I at least have a hug?” she asked, realizing now that whatever they had once had was gone. This hug would probably be the last goodbye, and she would have to end their chapter in her life once and for all.

She saw him move forward, and she was surprised that he was actually going to grant her request. Instead of hugging her, though, he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her to him until her body was pressed against his. Before she even had time to process what was happening, he pressed his mouth to hers, his strong arms still wrapped around her. He kissed her so deeply and with such passion that she could feel her body melting into his, could feel her lips burn with the heat of his, the warmth spreading throughout her entire body.

She knew what was happening was wrong; they shouldn’t be doing this. And yet, nothing had ever felt more right. Their years of knowing one another, all the secrets shared and promises made, had led right to this moment. She opened her eyes, wanting to see if this was really happening. She was sure she was imagining it. When she opened her eyes, she saw the face she knew so well, even after all this time. It was him, and it was her, and it was real.

When they finally pulled away from one another, she stared into his eyes for a moment. The ice there had melted away, and now they were that peaceful blue she remembered. He was the man she knew again. Staring into his face, and seeing him stare back at her, she understood his behavior before. Of course he felt the same way she did, but he had been trying to ignore it, to distance himself. He had tried to keep his true feelings from showing, just like she had. His cold demeanor was the only way he knew how to keep her at a distance.

As they stood without speaking, they both realized that whatever it was that the two of them shared, time could not make it go away. Finally, she separated herself from him, taking a step back and wiping the tears that had started to escape from her eyes. She knew she had to leave, and she knew that he knew it too. After all, that was why he had tried so hard to keep his distance from her, wasn’t it? She shouldn’t have asked for that hug; it was only going to make leaving harder now. But they both knew she couldn’t stay. Their lives, their paths were not the same anymore. They both belonged to other people, had other responsibilities.

He wiped a tear from her cheek and wrapped her in a hug. This was goodbye, and this was for good. They both knew it. She could see tears begin to cloud his eyes as she turned to go. She had to go back to her life and leave him to his. But maybe that was okay. Yes, it was hard, but now she knew nothing would ever erase them. A part of each of them would always belong to each other, and maybe that was enough.

She backed her car slowly out of the driveway, looking at his silhouette in the doorframe one last time before she drove away, back to the life that she had created for herself without him.

Created: Aug 12, 2012

Tags: story

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