These sort of things happen. These sort of things happen all the time. You just never thought it’d be happening to you. Because they touched you like you were something more than just flesh and bones, like maybe you were just a little special.
People change and people leave – they do it all the time. A father tells his son that he’s going out to the store to get a sandwich but he never comes home. I won’t change, says a girl moving to a big city to follow her dreams but 1 year later she comes back to her quiet little town and no one recognizes her. A woman whispers to a man in the late of the night when the sun disappears only then will I stop loving you; two years go by and the sun is still there but the woman isn’t. They planned a future with you – we should go all out, the whole American dream thing. White picket fence, big front lawn, little garden out back, and a golden retriever. It’ll be brilliant, we’ll be brilliant – and now they’re planning the quickest exit route.
It’s not fair. It never is really.
You were fine before you met them. You were living, and you were breathing, and you were going through the normal routine of everything; Go to work, pay the bills, go on a blind-date, call up your parents, drinks with friends, check your emails – you were fine, you were good. Who gave them the right to waltz into your life and tip it sideways like that? What God up there looked down at your tiny minuscule dust size meat suit and thought let’s f*ck around with this bugger for a bit.
You didn’t love them the moment you met them and that makes it all the more worse. At least if you knew, you could’ve distanced yourself from all the casual lunches and slight flirting from behind coffee mugs. If you knew, you could’ve ran away from the midnight take-outs in your apartment while the both of you sift through files and the occasional whiskey in your coffee when it hit past 3 AM. If you knew, you would’ve looked them dead in the eye the first time they reached to shake your hand and you would’ve said ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t have the strength to put myself together once you’re done with me.’ But you didn’t know and now here you are.
They touched you like you were glass, and no one’s ever done that before. They kissed you as though you would fall apart right in front of them; crumble into nothing but cigarette ash and regret. They loved you in a way you never thought was capable and looked at you the way everyone dreamt about being looked at – like you were their world. You remember the first time waking up next to them, how it felt like coming home after a long week gone wrong and you remember kissing them awake and thinking this must be the paradise everyone talks about.
People are fickle. They will to tell you to leave, get out. I don’t need you anymore with the same mouth they used to press kisses along the insolent curve of your neck. They will pack their lives up in little brown cardboard boxes with the same hands they once used to trace every dip and crevice of your body. People change all the time, you know this. But they came into your life with such quiet stability that you believed they would be different. They came so surely and confidently that you thought maybe just maybe. But life isn’t a fairytale, you know this and yet when they slicked their mouths across yours while dawn spilt in through the window, you let yourself believe for a second that it was.
You never wanted to be that person, the person who couldn’t let go. The person who called them at 2 in the morning drunk and crying. The person who thought about them long after they were gone, the one who saw them in improbable places or said their name over and over when sleep had already visited. You built your world around them because they made you feel as though you could, as though they were there for the long run. You ask yourself, if you could hit rewind and press play at that evening on the beach where they looked at you with this sort of wonder, would they recognize it? Those normal Sunday mornings where they’d carry out the process of making their pour over coffee while you sat on the balcony reading and watching them through the window. You wonder whether they’ll miss any of it.
There’s no moving on; there’s only forgetting.
You find someone else to fill your days, someone who’s less dangerous and someone who is nothing like them. Someone who won’t hand your heart back to you in the middle of the night. You check your emails, you go for drinks with friends, you call up your parents, and you don’t second guess any of it. Occasionally, you’ll touch someone who feels like them; the heat of their body like fire against your touch. Occasionally, you’ll kiss someone and you’ll taste them in the corners of their mouths; as though they’d been waiting there for you all along. There’s no moving on, there’s only forgetting; but 5 years have passed and you can still trace the planes of their face as clearly as the first day you met them.