The note in my hand fell to the floor as my hands froze in petrified terror. My mind raced, jumping to a million different conclusions, all of which seemed justified, and none far-fetched. Mentally, I scrambled to piece together the various bits of relevant information I'd just acquired. However, in doing so, a single word kept bringing itself to the forefront of my mind, pulsing and glowing as if burned forever into my conscience: "Goodbye."
The time between moments was insignificant. The very next thing I saw was the highway speeding past me as I conquered mile after mile of black, empty road lit only by the glare of my headlights. I pushed the pedal down further, my hands clenching into fists on the wheel. My knuckles were white as I felt my right foot press to the floor. An accelerated heartbeat throbbed in my head, drowning out the voice on the radio.
She couldn't be gone.
No, she wasn't. Not yet.
I checked the clock. Twenty minutes. I was running out of time. In twenty minutes, she would be boarding that plane, farther from me than ever before. Then the damage I'd caused would be all but permanent. As long as she remained here, I could tell myself that it wasn't the end, that I always held the power to make things right once more. This had been my mentality for the last couple of weeks, but thoughts like that just aren't sustainable. Eventually there had to be some definitive action to break the ambiguity. This was it. This was her checkmate.
"I'll do it," she had said the night of the argument. "I'll put all my money on a plane ticket and be out of here before you even realize I'm gone. I'll be on the first trip out of here, I swear I will."
The desperation in her voice had seemed phony at the time. Never had I actually believed that she would follow through with this threat. Not after so many empty ones had been made in the past. And maybe that made everything so much worse; she had told me exactly what she would do, and I, ever the narcissist, refused to even consider the possibility that she might one day grow tired of my admittedly selfish games.
A cluster of lights in the distance caught my attention. This was it. The airport. The clock glared back at me with its harsh, condemning light. Fifteen minutes.
I don't remember the details that brought me to where I made my stand. I don't remember parking in what probably wasn't a real space; I don't remember rushing in to buy a ticket for the cheapest flight going anywhere; I don't even remember asking about her flight to find out where I needed to be. These things were just speed bumps, distractions. They didn't matter in the scheme of things. To me, they were just a few new additions to the list of things keeping us apart.
As I ran to the security check, I happened to glance at a clock protruding from the wall. Ten minutes. Honestly, I was just amazed that the time was moving this slowly. Never once had it seemed to do so for me. In my life, time must have moved twice as quickly for me as it did for everyone else. I always heard people talk about "stopping to enjoy the little things." Talk like that meant virtually nothing to me. The little things are aptly named; the way I saw it, I was only truly living if I treated every moment like some grand event. I just didn't have the time for trivialities.
She knew this, too. But she was a connoisseur of the little things. When we were together, I constantly found her musing at the smallest details, the tiniest break in the surface of a perfectly still pond, the gentle wind that blew through the trees on a nice day, the gaps between the leaves that cast uneven shadows onto those sitting in their shade. She even pointed out things about myself that I had never noticed before and probably never would have, had she not brought them to my attention. It was maddening, yet at the same time, fascinating. I hated her for it, but that just made me love her all the more. She knew me better than I knew myself.
And how well did I know her?
I didn't, obviously. At least, not in the ways she wanted me too. She deserved so much more than me, and there's no way I could ever be enough for her. But that wouldn't stop me from trying now.
Luckily, there didn't seem to be too many people flying this late on a Monday night. I sped through security with five minutes to spare, just enough time to find her terminal and stop her from taking the final step that would separate us forever.
2C. 2C. 2C.
My thoughts narrowed to this one code, becoming monotonous. Terminal 2C was where I would make my final bid. Terminal 2C was where I needed to be right now. I checked the signs overhead. Of course, all the C's had to be in the back, and of course, terminal 2C was the second to last on the left.
As the sign came into my field of vision, my legs became pistons, firing at impossible speed and bringing me ever closer to my salvation. However, by the time I stood right outside terminal 2C, I couldn't immediately bring myself to go any further. My legs locked, threatening to buckle. My breath caught in my throat. She was there.
She sat facing the gate, waiting for her number to be called. The airline had begun seating already, and it was just a matter of time before it was her turn to leave. It was now or never.
I finally made my way over to her, moving my legs by sheer willpower. As I drew nearer, she looked up at me with a blank expression. Nothing in her features showed anger or sadness or perturbation. It was as if she was completely devoid of all emotion at the moment.
"I'm sorry," I began, breathless and blubbering. "You were right. You were always right, about me, about everything. It's only reasonable for you to never want to see me again, but please don't view that as the only option. I love you. You know I do. You're the single most incredible person to ever live, and I've never understood why you stuck around in the first place, but you did. And now you've caught me. I'm yours to do with what you want, so if you just say the word, I will walk out of this terminal right now. I'll be heartbroken and devastated, but I'll know it's your choice."
My heart stopped as she stood up. Emotion flooded back to her features, and it was with a sigh of relief that I realized that this emotion was happiness. Her eyes brimmed with tears as she lifted a shaky hand to cup the side of my face. "I love you too," she said, barely above a whisper. "And that's exactly why I need to go."
Her hand dropped as my expression did. The speakers had been calling out numbers as we'd talked, and hers must have been one of them, because in what seemed like one long, continuous moment, she turned, handed her ticket to the attendant, and walked away from me for the last time without so much as a backwards glance.