I sat on the rigid chair, considering my thoughts when I'd bought it years before. In no way was the chair attractive, and even less so, comfortable. Its lack of cushion had never bothered me much before though, in fact, I had only really noticed the inconvenience at that moment. However, I was realizing a lot of things at that moment- I wished to think of anything except for the problem before me.
She certainly was not a problem, was she? I had definitely never considered her one before, yet, now, when my dream, everything I'd ever wished for, everything I'd ever wanted, quite literally stared me in the eyes I could do nothing more than think about the inappropriateness of my furniture. However, she didn't dare say a thing earlier. And what did I expect? Her to come running into my arms, crying? For her to tell me she still loved me and that for all these years she'd remained faithful to me and only me? How could I expect that from her?
A tear rolled down my cheek and I didn't bother to wipe it. She knew me. She'd seen me cry and weep to the point of near insanity. She knew be better than anyone. She always knew what to say to me when I was in tears, when I was sick, or anxious. Yet she had nothing comforting to say to me now. She couldn't even say the three words that used to stop the tears no matter what had caused them. But how could I blame her.
I glanced up from the floor to look at her. She sat six feet from me in a similar chair, but it seemed like so much further than six. She seemed miles from me. Her eyes were red, and a tear ran down her cheek, too, but the reason was unclear to me. How could I be so distant from someone who I was once so close to? She looked up at me and met my eyes. Her eyes were unsure, tired, confused… the worst of all was the skeptical look. She never had given me that look before. She always trusted me. She always believed me. But who was I to her now?
My bottom lip quivered.
"I'm sorry." I told her. My words echoed throughout the kitchen, even though they were barely above a whispered.
"What for? If there's anyone to be sorry it's me. If I would have known this would have happened I nev-" She stopped herself and instead looked at the ground and shook her head, her expression strained, as if fighting tears.
I stood up, picked up the chair and sat next to her. I ignored the shining ring on her finger as I wrapped her in my arms and rested my chin on her shaking shoulder, like I used to. She started to weep softly, so I pulled away and put my finger on her lips.
"But you're happy. At that's all I ever wanted you to be. Maybe he will make you happier than I ever did." I told her softly, trying to make myself believe my own words. I traced my fingers up and down her arm for a few seconds before she stopped me. I frowned.
"How can I believe that? Do you remember how happy we were together? I haven't felt joy like that since I was with you, Paris." She sobbed, "But it's too late."
"It's not too late, you can sti-"
"I love him, Paris. And although I may not love him as much as I loved you… I love him more than I love you now. It's too late for us. When you left- I- for years- I…" She started crying heavily again and I broke out in uncontrollable tears too.
"I'm sorry… I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" I sobbed those two words over and over, just as I had every night for months in Germany. I stared at the moon and just hoped she would somehow hear my apologies, and somehow the darkness and the coolness the night provided helped me by making my loneliness more absolute.
"It's not your fault Paris! Stop it!'
"Well it's not yours! I'm the one who left!"
We sat there in silence.
I left for 4 years. Right at the height of our love I left. I had to go to Germany to take care of my father, who had become ill right before the fall semester of our freshman year of college. I had to leave. I told her I would write her, and that I would call her if I could and I did. But she never answered my calls or responded to my mail, and there was no email or texting in the early 90s so there was nothing else I could do. I figured she was angry at me, but I knew she loved me. And before I'd left she'd promised me she would wait for me. Of course, she didn't know that my dad's illness would drag out for 4 years and I would just transfer colleges in Germany when she promised that… but that's the promise I held onto throughout college. I waited for her. And my dream was to return to her.
"After you left I had no reason to go to Texas State anymore. So I transferred out and when to a community college up north where we'd always talked about living… but I didn't have your new number or your address and you didn't have mine… and things started falling apart." I'd already known this after I talked to her sister a month ago. But I only nodded.
"I know…" I said quietly.
"I met him my senior year of college. I wait for you three years… but I couldn't do it anymore. I knew there was no way for you to contact me or find me, and deep inside I even believed that you'd broken your promise and found somebody else… so I found him. But he was never like you. He never made me light up like you…
"But after we graduated he proposed, and I did love him… so I said yes. We got married at the end of the year… and we have been since." She said all of this regrettably.
"But you don't love me anymore…" I tried to say this un-accusingly but it was hard. I'd stayed faithful. I spent two years of my life searching for her when I came back to the United States, only to find her married… with a kid. All of it happened in six years. It only took her three to move on.
"It's been six years Paris…" her voice was cold. But it was still hers.
I grabbed her hand. In my mind, she still belonged to me. Even though she'd betrayed me, she was still MINE. I'd loved her first. I was her first. She had loved me more.
I wiped a tear from her cheek, as I always used to.
"I loved you Paris. I really did. But I'm sorry… it's too late." She stood up and as I rose from the chair my legs shook and I grabbed her arm in desperation.
"Please… I just need a chance. I'm begging…" Tears were flowing out of my eyes and I could see the sadness in her eyes- no- pity.
With a last shot of desperation I grabbed her waist and pulled her close to me, and our lips connected. To my surprise she didn't resist. We kissed. And every time we'd kissed in the five years that we were together flashed before my eyes. Our first clumsy kiss in the eighth grade at a formal dance, just a peck. Our kiss out in the rain the first day of high school. Our kiss on the sofa our first night alone. Our kiss when I proposed to her at graduation. And the last kiss we had before I left.
The kiss lasted for what seemed like hours. Finally, I pulled away. I don't know what I expected, but her eyes were still full of pity, and I could tell she was being truthful… she didn't love me anymore. She gave me a half-hearted smile.
"Bye Paris." Were the last words she ever said to me.