He Thought, She Refused
She was gone. He did that. And in between the teardrops rolling down his reddish, stubbled face, he considered the things that they will never do together. They will never attend a black tie dinner and sneak away to walk through the park, their shoes in their hands. He will never become comfortable enough with her in bed to confess what he really wanted, never get to make love to her in public and walk out of that bathroom or that empty office smiling slyly, wearing the debauchery on their chests like medals of honor. He will never show her his microscopic hometown or take her to the White Mountains, to the inn that in winter looked too picturesque to be real. He will never be with her when he had a little more money to spend on her, to spoil her the way he desperately wanted to. They will never make quiche together, and she will never attempt to make the crust herself, covering them elbows-to-noses with flour. And they will never kiss deeply amidst the chalky mess. He will never get to say that he was in love with her the whole time, even when they fought and yelled and pretended the other didn’t exist. She will never meet his parents, and they will never see the glint in his eye, the glint from being with her, the glint his parents had never seen in him before.
He tried to email her, texted, with no response. He had heard from her only once over the past two weeks. It was a terse message in response to his plea to meet him for coffee: “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He waited to see if she would respond again. And with nostalgia being what it is, he sat at his unkempt desk, wearing second-day boxers and a faded blue shirt from his alma mater, and jotted a list of things about her that warmed his heart. She was petite and nearly meek. He felt like a protector every time he was with her. She always wanted ice in her water, even in winter. She was always so grateful when he did things for her, like when he spent his entire day off helping to get her car repaired, and the look on her face when he did these things, as if she had never been treated so thoughtfully, lit a flame inside of him and made him want to stoke that fire daily.
But with neglect, the flame dwindled. She didn’t respond to any more of his messages, and she began, it seemed to him, the process of purging him from her life. She hid him on her chat, removed him from her social networks. It was clear that she did not want to give friendship a chance. And again he sat at his cluttered desk, opened his laptop, and typed a list of the things about her that he hated. Little things, like how she didn’t like shellfish or how she was the one who left the toilet seat up. That she was too embarrassed to tell her parents that he would stay over some nights. And then the items on his list became more substantial, more personal. How he always felt like he took a backseat to her friends, even on date nights. How she wasn’t keen on hugging or public affection. How he was sure that she liked him, maybe even loved him, but never showed it.
She was guarded, he realized. A lot of that had to do with her ex, who had become obsessive and disrespectful, who had threatened suicide and terrorized her. He wished then that he could have done more to be her protector, their fixer, his best self. He wished that his demeanor were more positive and his actions more inspired. He wished, when they grinded their teeth in frustration and thought about the end, that he had just kissed her. He wished that a kiss could have been enough.
He saved the list and thought for a moment about sending it to her, but he was pretty sure she would never read it. And if by some miracle or fleeting sense of sentimentality she did, if she were to remember him at all, he didn’t want to be remembered like that.