The wind blew slightly and I clutched my suitcase closer to my body as a mild form of shelter from the wind. It wasn't threatening my life in any way, but my small red suitcase was the only form of familiarity I had with me. I hugged it to my body, and tried to calculate how long I had been waiting, and for how much longer I'd have to wait.
Two warm hands were placed over my eyes. The scent of AXE and cinnamon assaulted my senses. I relaxed my hold on my suitcase as a deep voice commanded "Guess who?"
"Your mom," I inwardly giggled.
"That's what she said." Ah, the classic return – always expected it.
He sat down next to me and flashed me a white smile. His sun kissed skin made the smile so much whiter. Right now his hair was a dark brown, but he could never make up his mind as to what color he liked best. The green and brown scattered in his blue eyes scintillated with the happiness and excitement that bubbled inside him. Unintentionally it was passed to me, and I became less nervous, managing to smile back at him.
"How much longer?" he asked.
I checked my watch. "Half hour," I pursed my lips and shrugged. After weeks of waiting, the time had finally come.
"Really? That's not a lot of time," he frowned and I laughed at him.
"Don't start the sadness with me. You of all people should be happy to get rid of me!"
"I could never be happy to be rid of you! Who am I gonna laugh at now?"
I stared at him for his last remark – my face stone and my eyes trying their best to bore holes in his forehead. He returned my stare, trying his hardest to match my intensity.
"You blinked," I taunted. "Besides, there are a lot of other people out there who you can laugh at. I'm not the only one who's absolutely hilarious."
"Maybe, but you're the only one who has an ego about it."
"Learned from the best." I playfully punched his arm.
With that we were off in a time machine back a few months prior. Never thought I would be best friends with someone who I had had a random run in with. We seemed to click instantly. I found him easy to talk to, and his stories always captured my attention. I'd be lying if I said there was something less than friendship boiling under the surface – but that's all that remained there now. Seven weeks was all it took for me to fall in love with him. A few small words were all it took for the relationship to end.
Now, we were just friends – but best friends. No one knew me the way he did. In a sense, it wasn't fair. Around him, I felt so vulnerable. He seemed to look right through me. I could never lie to him and tell him that everything was fine. He immediately knew I was lying. It was unnerving the way he read me – both a blessing and a curse.
Him, he was always a mystery to me. Sure, he had his share of heartache and frustrations. I liked to think I was the person he would talk to about them. But, I couldn't read him the way he read me. I could tell when he had a rough day or when he had exciting news, but I could never penetrate his armor and see his soul the way he was able to do to me.
I snapped back to reality as more voices sounded around us. I noticed that somewhere in the midst of our conversation I had placed my suitcase on the floor. Also, his arm was around my shoulders and I was in much closer proximity to him than I had been when he'd first sat down. I looked up into his face and saw that same smile dancing in his eyes and across his lips.
"I still love you, you know," he whispered in my ear.
I sat there shocked. My surroundings disappeared. He sat there looking at me, completely vulnerable. He had laid his armor down and allowed me to see his soul. Those words I had loved hearing were being whispered to me once again. It wasn't just a dream – he was really sitting here laying his heart out in front of me.
I looked up to meet his gaze. He was still smiling and I could see the anticipation behind his blue orbs. Voices called out again and I wanted to cry. I sighed and took his hand in mine, remembering how perfectly our hands fit together.
"You'll always be my friend," I began, still not daring to look at his face for fear my unshed tears would escape their confinement. "I'll always be proud of you. You'll always be in my heart and I'll never forget you." I looked up to see his reaction, and realized it was a bad idea. His gaze was still one of anticipation, but I could detect disappointment in his eyes. "But it's better this way."
The voices came back, and I knew the time had finally come. I stood up and gathered my red suitcase once again. He hugged me tightly, and I felt a single tear escape its home.
I cupped his face and rubbed my thumb against his cheek. He hadn't shaved this morning, and I could feel the stubble scratch against my skin. He wiped away the tear that had strayed from its hiding place, and tucked a lock of my hair behind my ear.
"And I'll always love you," I concluded, willing myself not to cry.
He gently pressed his soft lips to mine for one last quick goodbye. The voices called out one last time. I pulled away and tried to smile before quickly gathering my belongings and boarding the train. I didn't look back for fear it wouldn't be a single tear I would shed this time.
I found my seat and looked out the window to see him standing there, hands in his pockets and his hair being blown by the gentle breeze. I smiled and waved as the train lurched forward and started down the tracks. I angled my body so I could watch as he became smaller and smaller and eventually disappear from my line of vision.
I sat properly and stared ahead at the blank walls in front of me. That was my past, and here I was ready to begin my journey towards the rest of my life. I was now staring at a blank page in front of me, ready to be filled with the stories of my life. My phone buzzed and there was my beginning in five perfect words:
"And I'll always love you."