COME BACK TO ME
She was meant for big things. Spending the rest of her life with her high school sweetheart in their hometown was not for her. Her talent demanded that she do great things, that she go out there and be someone. Someone big.
So I let her go. I opened my arms and let her run off into the great big unknown.
We were eighteen years old and had been in love since we were babies, though we didn't quite realize it until we were in high school. She was my best friend, my lover, my soulmate. We were inseparable.
I was her biggest fan, cheering her on in every musical and every play she performed in. I held her hand until she squeezed it bloodless whenever we went to auditions and casting calls. We both knew her big moment would come, and, deep down, I knew I'd have no choice but to be without her.
It came sooner than I wanted and later than she wanted. When we graduated from high school, it was bittersweet because we both knew what the future held. The day after graduation, she headed off to Hollywood and the land of her dreams. She was to film her first movie, and the rest, as they say, would be history.
"Promise me you'll wait," she whispered to me at the airport as I held her close, held her tight, not wanting to let go. Not wanting to watch her turn away from me. I wasn't as optimistic as she. She was the dreamer, but my feet had always been firmly planted on the ground. She balanced me, but she was leaving.
"I promise," I whispered back, unable to stand the hideous sensation in my chest, the burning behind my eyes. "Come back to me."
She lifted her head and gave me that beautiful smile of hers. I pressed my lips to hers, wanting just one more taste. One last time. One kiss to last me for eternity.
Because the truth was that, even if I knew that she fully believed she would return to me, I wasn't naïve. How many relationships of our kind lasted? But I knew that, even when she'd forgotten me, even when I'd become a distant memory to her, I would still be waiting for her.
When we let each other go, she gave me that hauntingly lovely smile of hers and walked away, leaving me behind with all of our memories.
The first year passed quickly. Her movie came out. It wasn't a huge blockbuster hit, but it was big enough and her role in it just important enough that she was speedily cast in two more, then three more films. All five of them were massive and shot her into the limelight that she had always been meant for.
A lifetime away, I sat and watched her every move. I bought every film, every poster, devoured every article about her. My high school friends sent me pitying looks when they thought I couldn't see. My college friends didn't know about my past, so they complimented my taste.
"She's so hot, I don't blame you one bit," all of them would say to me. I didn't bother telling them that her looks weren't everything. Somehow, I knew it would be futile.
At the beginning, she called me every day, then every week, then every month. And then the calls just stopped altogether, and I knew that was it.
The first time I saw her with some actor's arms around her, kissing him, my heart shattered. It was my twenty-first birthday, so I figured, why not? Why not get absolutely wasted? Maybe, just maybe, it would help drown out her memory.
Drinking didn't help, and, when the massive hangover hit me, I swore I'd never touch alcohol again.
I finished college and went on to work for a marketing firm. I still collected her; every DVD, every special edition and collector's item, every fragrance she made. Everything.
My succession of girlfriends all thought it was cute—at first. By the time each relationship ended, they all said the same thing as they left.
"Maybe if you paid even an ounce of attention to me the way you do to her, we would've lasted. I hope you'll be very happy with your sick obsession."
Oh, I was. I was more than happy. I knew a psychologist would want me in extensive therapy, but I didn't care. I was ecstatic to be left alone with my thoughts of her. It wasn't like I was hurting anyone.
It didn't matter when the tabloids reported that she was an alcoholic, a cocaine addict, a hard partier. She was still my girl, my perfect girl, and nothing "they" said would change that.
Professionally, my life was going exactly the way I needed it to go. I was promoted quickly from the entry position up to marketing executive. My co-workers liked me, my bosses commended me for my hard work. My parents were so proud of their son; my younger brother looked up to me as a role model.
Personally, my life revolved around her, and nothing anyone said could change that.
I had myself convinced that, one day, in one of the millions of interviews she did, she would mention me. However briefly, I wanted to hear what she would say about me. If she would say anything about me.
Eight long years passed, and still there was nothing.
She went to rehab, she quit the wild party scene, she took on more serious roles, and she started dating a professor at some college out in California. I was proud of her for turning her life around, for staying true to the girl I loved.
When she first started talking about the love of her life, I was certain that this was it. She was talking about me, and it was her signal to me that she was coming back to me. Then I realized that she meant the professor. Sure enough, a few months later, she was sporting a five-carat diamond engagement ring and looking ecstatic.
That was when I knew it was over.
I stopped listening, watching, reading, and devouring bits and pieces of whatever parts of her I could get. I'd deluded myself into thinking that she would ever return to me.
One day, I looked at myself in the mirror and winced. I didn't even recognize myself, and I knew I had to start over. I left my job and moved out of my hometown. The only reason I'd stayed for as long as I had was because of the belief that she was coming back. Of course, she wasn't, I scolded myself. Why would she? Even her parents had long since moved away, so what could possibly bring her back?
I moved to New York, which was three thousand miles from her and her perfect life. Hopefully, it would be far enough for me to pick up the pieces of my life and rebuild.
And I did.
New York treated me better than I'd expected, and I sped my way up the corporate ladder at a huge company. I'd never been a social animal, and my social life, though better than before, was still fairly quiet.
I made certain to lock my senses to anything about her.
When my thirtieth birthday approached, the CEO of the company approached me. He was only a few years older than me, and we'd become good friends. He told me that the company was going to throw a party in my honor, and I wasn't allowed to refuse.
Reluctantly, I agreed, though a small part of me was terribly excited. I hadn't had a birthday party of any sort since, well…I shot those thoughts down immediately.
My thirtieth birthday arrived, and I tried not to think about her. She was probably happily married and filming those movies that defined her life. She didn't deserve a second of my thoughts.
The birthday bash was spectacular. I was doused in pounds of confetti when I walked onto the giant rooftop where the celebration was happening. Music drifted through the air, and I was never without a glass of champagne.
The birthday cake startled me, though. On the outside, it appeared to be a massive concoction of chocolate icing, but, inside, the cake was chocolate chip with a center of chocolate fudge. The last time I'd had this cake, I couldn't help but remember, was when she'd made it for my sixteenth birthday. She had wanted to experiment and, as far as I knew, was still the only person who made it.
Of course, she couldn't be the only person, I scolded myself. Plenty of chefs must know how, and the organizers had just made a lucky guess in choosing it. I downed pieces of cake, kissed cheeks, shook hands, and thanked everyone for coming.
Then, it was just me—and the cleaning crew—left alone with my thoughts on a silent rooftop under the brilliant, starry sky. I could hear the honking car horns from many stories below, and the buzz of the city never quite faded as I gazed out over what my life was at thirty.
Even as I stood there, searching for something, I knew.
And, knowing, I turned.
She stood there, looking not a day older than when I'd let her go. Her hair was perfect, her lovely features carefully composed. She stood as I drank in the sight of her as though she were my oasis in a dry, dry desert.
"I must be dreaming," I murmured finally and saw the barest hint of a smile brush over her features.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, and the breeze carried her voice to me. "I'm so sorry."
I didn't need the apology. Instead, I opened my arms and held her close when she rushed into them. Her apologies were muffled against my shirt. She'd been stupid, she'd thought she was too different to come back to me, she'd thought her new life made her happy. She'd been stupid to think that anyone could love her the way I had. She'd called off her wedding, she'd taken a break from acting.
"I needed to find myself," she told me, raising her wet eyes to mine.
"I know," I replied, and it was true. I'd always known.
Her hand lay gently against my cheek, and she smiled when I kissed her palm. "It took me too long to realize that I would never find myself anywhere else. That you had that piece of me that was missing. You always have."
I didn't say anything because we both knew that I'd always known. Instead, I held her close as we stood there, atop a high-rise building in the middle of Manhattan, the peaceful night surrounding us.
She was destined for great things, and she accomplished all of them and then some. What neither of us had ever truly realized was that we had to be together for her to be that someone great and for us to be whole.
AN: I know it was rather sappy, but it's my first one-shot EVER for FictionPress, so please let me know what you think! I'd love any and all feedback...even if you hated it ;)