Two Years Later…

Her heart felt like lead. She couldn’t breathe. She didn’t eat much and when she did, her body would not let it stay.

 

After countless times spent together, after hundreds of hours on the phone, after multiple conversations about their ill-fated love affair, she finally had to stop.

 

He was the love of her life, but he was not hers alone, and she couldn’t live with it anymore. She sobbed into the phone and told him, she would love him forever. She said, “later” because “good-bye” was something they had promised each other they would never say, but she could not bring herself to hang up, and he wasn’t ending the call either.

 

Neither of them wanted to let go. But they absolutely had to stop what they were doing. They were both getting hurt over and over, and they couldn’t keep doing that to each other.

 

He remained strong, for her he said, but she could tell he was breaking, too.

 

“I can’t hang up on you. I can’t,” she wept.

 

“You’re not hanging up on me, baby.”

 

“I love you. I am always going to love you. You have my whole heart,” she said the words as the tears choked her.

 

His voice cracked a little. “And you have mine.”

 

“We’ll hang up at the same time, ok?”

 

After a few more tearful moments and failed attempts to press “end,” she somehow managed to hang up the phone. But she had to say it one more time. She texted him:

 

“I know you probably turned the phone off already, but I just need you to know: I LOVE YOU. I ADORE YOU. I RESPECT AND ADMIRE YOU. You are the man of my dreams and the love of my life. I will love you always and forever.”

 

She hit “send” believing it was a message he would never receive. But in the next minute her phone rang.

 

He was sobbing.

 

“I love you. I love you so much. I’m sorry. I just need you to know I love you.”

 

“Baby, I’m sorry! I love you too.” She put her head down on her desk and cried harder.

 

“I’m sorry. I’mma love you til the day I die.”

 

She could feel his broken heart in every syllable.

 

“Baby, don’t apologize, please. I love you so fucking much.”

 

She couldn’t remember how they ended the call that time, but she knew there was still no “good-bye.”

 

She tried calling a couple couple hours later, but the phone was off. He was gone. Gone from her life.

 

She sat and cried, wondering what kind of a life she would have without him in it. She wondered how much heartbreak one could endure before it physically killed you. She wondered if she would ever see his face again. She wondered if she had done the right thing. She wondered if she had lost him forever, or if one day, he would find her again.

 

She didn’t understand how the universe could be so cruel as to bring them back to each other under the circumstances. She didn’t understand how the heartache she felt now would ever cease. She didn’t understand why he had let her go. Again.

 

She did not know how she would go on living. She did not know what she would do to move on. She did not know anything with any certainty anymore. Except for one thing: He was the only one for her. No matter what happened in life, her heart would always belong to him.

Not Now, Not Ever

He had never been hers. Not once in her life. She gave him everything she had, her whole self, and he gave her his heart, but he couldn’t give her anything more. Or maybe he wouldn’t. She didn’t know the difference anymore.

All she knew was that she wanted him, all of him, all of the time and that wasn’t going to happen. Not now, and though he would say “one day,” she knew in her heart, not ever.

And her heart! Accepting this truth left her heart feeling irreparable, strangled, tortured, dead. It ached so dreadfully, she didn’t know how it continued to pump blood through her veins. It was physically agonizing inside her chest. The hurt was consuming her, and her poor heart begged for respite.

So she ate, she drank, she abstained, she slept, she exercised, she cried, she checked out, but nothing made it stop. Not for long. At times, the ache would temporarily subside. She would smile and laugh on occasion, but the pain would come back more fiercely every time she remembered she couldn’t share life with him, couldn’t have him exist as a part of her world.

She tried as hard as she could to live in her fantasies, in the pretend world she had created for them, but it was to no avail. Reality crushed her. He would never be hers. Not now, not ever. He never had been. And she had no one to blame but herself for thinking otherwise.

image by Steve K art

New First Kiss

She still remembers the day she agreed to meet him. She knows the date, the day of the week, the time. She knows what she was wearing. She knows what he was wearing. She remembers what the weather was like and the exact place they parked. She remembers everything because it was one of the best moments of her life.

She couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to be alone with him again. She was bursting with nervous excitement as she drove. When she pulled in to pick him up, the side of her vehicle scraped the nearby tree branches. She couldn’t even drive into a parking space she was shaking so hard!

He had said he wanted to see her so they could talk and so he could give her a hug. He climbed into the passenger seat, and she gave him the most awkward hug from the driver’s  seat. “There,” she said. “There’s your hug.” He gave her an equally awkward pat-on-the-back kind of hug.

They were making small talk, when he suddenly hopped out of the vehicle. He walked around the front of the car and opened her door. When she paused, he told her he wanted a real hug. Her heart raced as she stepped out.

She put her arms around his neck, as he wrapped his arms around her waist, and pulled her body into his. He felt so safe, so familiar; she could have stayed there forever. He reached down and grabbed a handful of her ass, just like he used to. Perhaps he thought she didn’t like it, because he apologized and started to pull away.

She panicked. She didn’t want him to let go, didn’t want him leave. When she saw him the week before, she had fantasized about kissing him, but couldn’t do anything about it. Today, though, she couldn’t let him slip away. And she didn’t. She lifted his chin and kissed him before he could let go all the way.

It was a perfect kiss; everything she had been missing, better than she remembered. He kissed her back, softly at first, but as their mouths melted into each other’s, the kiss became more fervent. He pulled away again, but this time he didn’t apologize.

He opened her door and told her she’d better get back in the car. She knew what he meant by that. They had crossed a line. He had kissed her back, but she had surprised him, kissing him first. He didn’t think she would do that, but she knew she had to.

He got in the backseat instead of the front this time. She told him she wasn’t getting in the back with him. He said he knew that and didn’t expect her to. She took that moment to read aloud what she had written about reconnecting with him. He teased her about her reading glasses, but he hung on every word.

“Wow,” was all he managed to wistfully say.

He was talking now, showing her a side of him she had never seen before. He was being vulnerable. He choked up and got teary-eyed when he talked about the way he felt about her. The way he felt when she had ended things with him all those years ago. He told her what it did to him and how it had made him feel. He was devastated, he told her. But too “thug” to let her know it. Once again, she could hardly believe what she was hearing.

She couldn’t resist him like that. She had to be near him. She saw the look of shock on his face when she climbed into the back with him.  She sat right on his lap and kissed him again. He kissed her back, holding tightly to her waist; his fingers digging into her body. He slid his hands down to her thighs, and hiked up her skirt. Thankfully, she was wearing spanx and as he fumbled with them, she came to her senses.

“You wore those on purpose,” he grumbled as she pulled her body off his.

“I really didn’t,” she said as she climbed back into the front seat.

She wasn’t thinking clearly that day. In fact, she hadn’t been thinking clearly since he put his hands on her arms. She had been acting solely on impulse, driven by her intense desire for this man.

She explained to him that usually, she overthought EVERYTHING. But not that day. She had to know if he felt what she felt. She had to know if she was alone in her twenty-plus lost years. She had to know if she had made it all up.

She got her answers that day. The answers she had hoped for. She just didn’t know what to do with them now.

The Truth, Finally

He contacted her the day after the BBQ. She told him she wasn’t “allowed” to talk to him because of their past relationship. But he asked her to call him anyway, and for some reason, she did.

He asked her what was really going on in her life, because even though she was smiling that day, he could tell she was not GREAT. She opened up to him and told him how unhappy she was, how miserable her marriage had become, and how she was trying counseling, compromise, and compassion, but none of it was working. All she was doing at this point, was going through the motions for the sake of the kids.

He expressed his sympathy to her, and she asked him, “How did you know I wasn’t doing as well as I said I was?”

“I could see it in your face.” He stated it like it was obvious to anyone who looked. Yet everyone else seemed fooled by her fake happy face. How was he not fooled?

They continued to talk every day for a week. During one converstion, he surprised her by asking her to tell him how she felt about him twenty years earlier.

“I liked you. A lot.” She didn’t want to say too much. She didn’t really understand the reason he asked.

“But how did you feel about me?” He asked again. The earnestness she heard in his voice at that moment, took down her defenses.

“I was crazy about you,” She said softly. Relieved, but a little scared to admit it. He must have been holding his breath, because she heard him exhale.

She decided to use this moment of honesty to pose the question back to him.

“I was crazy about you, girl. You didn’t know that?”

She could hardly believe what she was hearing. He went on to tell her he regretted letting her go all those years ago. He told her she was the One and he had let her get away, because he was too much of a hard ass to be real with her then. He told her he never should have let her go.

She asked him why he was being real now. Now, when they were both married to other people.

“Because I never got over you, never stopped thinking about you for twenty years. I didn’t want you walk away this time without knowing how you really felt back then, or if it was just me.” His voice was more sincere than she had ever heard it. She felt her heart melt.

“Meet me this week and we can talk,” he said. It was more of a statement than a request. She had forgotten how much she loved it when he talked that way. She ignored the little voice in her head that was warning her of the danger, and agreed to meet him.

Twenty Years Later, Part One of Three

Two-tenths of a century. Two decades. Twenty years. Two hundred forty months. One thousand, forty weeks. Seven thousand, three hundred five days. One hundred seventy-five thousand, two hundred hours. Ten million, five hundred twelve thousand minutes, Six hundred thirty million, seven hundred twenty thousand seconds. However you measure it, what seemed like a lifetime would pass before they would see each other in person again.

Two lifetimes to be precise. His and hers. Existing completely separate from one another. Families, milestones, adventures, experiences, troubles, sorrows, joys; everything that makes life what it is was happening for them, just not together. Which would have been entirely normal and totally fine except for one thing: Neither of them had ever fully let go of the other.

He would creep back into her thoughts at random, odd times. She would wonder if and pray that he was happy. She really only wanted to know he was happy. (And she would later learn he had the same experiences, thinking of her time after time.) Of all the exes they’d both had, they were each other’s One to remember forever.

Hearing he had moved to a new city, she sometimes wished she’d bump into him while visiting his town. She had this strange feeling that she just needed to see him one more time. She had even found out he had been across the street from her home once for an event. Literally across the street! There were a few times she had opportunities to cross his path, but there was always something, or someone, that got in the way.

The years passed and things got less and less bearable for her at home. Her daughters were (and still are) her whole world; astonishing, intelligent, witty, beautiful young ladies. She adored them completely. But her marriage… her marriage was rockier with each day that passed. By about year 15, it was a lot of fighting, bad counseling, and gritting their teeth to get through it for the sake of the kids. She wanted out so badly. She had lost herself and had hardly noticed.

But the One knew it. He knew it the minute he laid eyes on her.

The First Goodbye

She had been writing her feelings, her thoughts and her heart, her whole life. And he was no exception. For awhile, she had kept and hidden a journal telling their story. She can’t remember now what became of that journal, but she did find this entry in her book of poetry and prose years later…

July 12, 1995

I should not be writing this.
You mustn’t know I feel this way.
Yet it’s distressing NOT to tell you.
How I long for you, ache for you.
Just the mere thought of you,
And my heart races until I am breathless.

I lay my head against your bare chest.
In your capable arms, I am warm and safe.
I think about all I desire to share with you:
Having you, holding you, pleasing you,
Loving you, you loving me; ALWAYS.

You stir up the passion that lies deep within me.
You bring me to the edge of ecstasy.
There is nowhere I can run from you.
The sweet terror of falling is before me. Every sense heightens. Every muscle tenses.
Every nerve, every inch of my body, Screams for your touch.

No one else can quench this thirst.
There is none who can extinguish the flames.
Nothing can feed this ravenous hunger. Sleep refuses to come,
As visions of you torment my nights.

You intrude on my private thoughts,
The same way you penetrate my core;
I let you inside of me, consummately.
In my mind, we are perfection together:
One motion, one groove, one flow.

My body, heart, and soul are completely satisfied,
Whenever I’m with you.
I want to stay in this place forever with you.
But how can I? Is it even real?

Suddenly, I begin to rouse.
No! Don’t let me wake up!
I need to stay here with you, baby!
Embraced, desired, beloved.
But the day dawns, and I must rise.
I must leave you behind.

This love I feel is ardently strong.
I wish on every star for you to feel the same.
I weep for this is all just a dream,
The fantasy of a silly, love-struck girl.
It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad.
In my dreams it’s more real than anything;
But in reality, it’s only in my dreams.

 

She truly loved him, but she couldn’t bring herself to admit what she felt. She couldn’t risk losing everything and everyone. He still hadn’t made any indication that he was serious about her. But he kept coming around all summer.

Fall came, and she moved into a new place. She loved having him over, loved being in his arms. She always felt so safe in his embrace. A couple of his friends were let in on the secret, though she had told no one. A lot had gone on with her friends recently. Including some events which had very serious repercussions for him as a father. No one would tell him what really happened. She was the only one who believed he needed to know the truth. And so, when he asked her, she supplied it. When her friends found out, she was mocked and called weak for doing so. But she knew it had been the right thing to do. Her friends had begun turning on her, and he still hadn’t said a word to her about how he felt.

She decided to tell him she was leaving. She would tell him about a guy she had known awhile and that he was interested in her. Wanted to openly date her. It wasn’t entirely true, but she needed an excuse to see if he would try to stop her. Much to her dismay, he didn’t. He just resigned himself to it, and wished her luck. In that moment she believed he had never loved her. It was all in her imagination.

They had one more night together before she left. She hadn’t seen him in weeks and he called out of the blue asking if he could come by her place. Seeing him was going to be difficult, even more so if he worked his magic on her. So she told him if he came over they wouldn’t be having sex. He said that was fine, he just needed a place to stay for the night. So she agreed.

When he came over, they ate and started a movie. She excused herself saying she needed to take a bath. She soaked herself in vanilla-scented bubbles and shaved carefully. She got out and dried herself off. She put on some black lingerie she had saved for a special occasion. Goodbye was certainly special. She slipped into a pair of black heels and a robe, which she left untied.

As she came around the corner into the living room, she asked him if he was ready. He looked up and smiled.

“Thought you said no sex?”

“Who says this is about sex?”

She turned off the TV and turned on the CD player. The notes to Prince’s ‘Do Me, Baby’ filled the room and she began to dance for him. She slid the robe off her shoulders and did some grinding in front of him. Much to her surprise he kept his hands to himself and simply watched her.

She kept going, dancing, grinding, touching herself, watching his eyes closely. He may not have been touching her, but his eyes and the newly formed peak in his drawers told her how much he wanted her.

She sat down on his lap, straddling him. She could feel how hard he was beneath the satin against her lips. She let her body move against him. The next song was playing, more uptempo, but she was rolling her hips, slowly, deliberately against him, and he was loving it. She could see it all over his face.

She worked his pants open and slid herself onto him. He felt like home. She was only a few thrusts into it when he came without any warning. She stopped moving and looked at him.

“Are you serious?”

“I’m tired. I just want to get some sleep.”

She was more hurt than she let him know. She tried to play the tough girl. “How you just gonna nut like that and not wait for me?!”

He simply shrugged.

She stood up, sliding off him. She smacked him with the strap to her robe. She hadn’t meant to hit him in the eye, but she did.

Didn’t he feel what she felt? How could he not see how good they were together? Why did he insist on playing it so cool?

Whatever he felt or thought at that time would remain a mystery to her for two decades. She assumed he was just that kind of guy, trusting no one with who he genuinely was.

It would be more than twenty years before she would finally know him, intimately, and he would bare all to her. Twenty plus years before they realized they had been soulmates all along. So much in common, so much connection, so much chemistry. They simply discovered it too late…

 

Five Minutes Alone

She just wanted five minutes alone with him. But it seemed that jealousy would never allow that to happen. She was scrutinized, watched constantly, and interjection was often made if she and the One ever enjoyed each other’s company too much.

Ridicule, criticism, and flat out threats were made in front of him and anyone else around, to the point where she was nearly ready to just give up. Something about the way he would hold her gaze, smile knowingly, and keep including her in things, would not allow her to move on just yet.

Shortly after the ride, the distraction became nothing more than a bad memory. Despite the fact that she knew he wasn’t the real thing, he’d behaved like the dog he was and managed to steal a few tears from her. She moved on quickly though, moved out of her friends’ place, and got a cute little studio on the other side of the city.

She visited them often. They were still her friends, and she did love them all. And as luck would have it, he would manage to be there when she was. She saw him less frequently than when she lived with everyone, but the upside was they weren’t watching her as closely; they weren’t attempting to make her look foolish anymore. And she felt that desire, that hunger and thirst, she believed only he could quench return. If only she could make it happen…
The five minutes turned into nearly an hour one sunny, spring day. The girls in the apartment were smoking, a habit she had given up when she moved into her own place a few weeks before. As terrible as it was, it was still a bit tempting so she went outside. She was standing at the top of the stairs, breathing deeply the fresh, spring air, when the door opened and he joined her outside. He nonchalantly posted up on the opposite railing, expressing how much he hated smoking.

“Why do you think I left? Quitting is hard enough without being around other smokers,” she stated, looking him square in the face, daring him to make eye contact.

“It’s a nasty ass habit, and you never should have taken it up in the first place.” He finally made eye contact and said, “Girl, you know better than that.”

She couldn’t tear her eyes away from his, and she couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear.

We’re alone. Finally.

He doesn’t admit to this often, but he is an exceptionally handsome man. His eyes are wide, intense, a shade lighter, yet still richer than milk chocolate. His smile can drop panties — she calls it a PDS — and it’s sexy as fuck. The freckles on his face dance across his caramel colored skin, and beg her to kiss them all. His frame and stature are manly and formidable, yet she feels completely safe in his presence. She had never been more attracted to anyone in her life, then or since.

He switched sides at the top of the stairs so he could stand next to her while they talked. His elbow kept bumping hers as they leaned on the railing, looking out at nothing in particular, sharing what they wanted out of life, and how they saw their futures. He told her how everything he did, he did to provide for his.

In a city where you grow up quicker than most, he knew that being a man was much more than being able to make babies. He knew it meant raising them, loving them, and caring for them with whatever means one possessed. He had the determination, the perseverance, and the strength to do all that was necessary and more. He didn’t have to try to be a good man, he already was one.

She listened to him more than she actually spoke. He was astonishing. Exceptional. She didn’t know why he was opening up to her, but she cherishes that moment to this very day. He let her in. He let her see the real him, not the tough, hardcore exterior, but a part of his heart that was vulnerable and authentic. And he didn’t even try to kiss her before they went back inside.