This is for you, who thought you were taking my wings away when you were actually the one giving me the power and courage to fly high.
I don't think there will be a day when I will stop calling you an idiot, because you were plain stupid to think so, though I will not regret the days I spent in pain because I - and we - learnt so much from those days.
Remember when I said that someday, someone may find a story that I'd buried; someday, someone might read it? I had this kind of dramatic idea that maybe someone would find this archived on my phone, raw and unedited, after I die, but no. Not when I wrote this for you, not when I want you to read this. Not when I want you to read this, the story that revealed my heart which I was too scared to fully articulate by words directly spoken to you.
I'm forever grateful for the few months we spent together as a couple, because we were happy. At least, I was.
It's already been one year, and I think that maybe, just maybe, I can let this go.
I love you. I love you so much that it hurts to think about it. But this is the only way and it is for the best. "Sorry," he typed into the text box, his mind tormenting him - he loved her irrevocably yet breaking things off would be the best for her.
It was the only way, he reckoned, the only way to minimise the pain caused to both him and her.
He hated himself for causing her more pain - more pain than falling for someone she shouldn't, but he couldn't help it.
As he got a simple reply saying that she's okay, he put his phone aside after sending a smiley to her, who already signed off.
She didn't get the message until one week later.
Brown eyes glued to the phone screen, she couldn't believe what she was reading. The one person whom she had grown to care about so much was telling her that he was sorry, and it didn't take a genius to guess what he was getting at.
Love is for fools. There never are fairy tales and they are all lies. There never are happy endings for stories in life.
Then why is my heart aching so badly?
She didn't know when did the tears blur her vision, she didn't know when or how did her fingers keyed in an automatic response - a lie that she was accustomed to telling.
"It's okay," she typed back. Without sparing a single second she switched off her phone and locked it in the cabinet.
She only took it out again one week later, the battery barely above the critical level and thousands of messages flooding her inbox.
Yet the only message that caught her eye was an emoji that he sent.
She hated it. She could see his warm, aqua eyes everywhere. The azure skies, the pastel-coloured marbles, and even in the blue highlighter she used. Frustrated she chucked the damned blue highlighter to the bin, and went out for a stroll.
It didn't help.
Every walk she took, every tree she saw, every bench she passed by; everything reminded her of him. They reminded her of how he walked along the same path with her in the countless afternoons after they studied together, how he pointed out the trees to her and taught her about the species of trees, how they sat together on a bench when he would show her how to play the guitar.
She hated it. She had happiness so close to her, she cared so much for him.
Why did he cut things off, then?
What did I do to deserve this again?
It was on a Thursday evening when her dependence on him hit her with full force.
She was so used to him comforting her after a spat with her family - he was the first one she let in, the first one to empathise with her situation at home - that she felt lost when nobody could comfort her when she was on the verge of breaking down.
Goodness, she thought. I'm depending on him so much. What happened? What happened to the Charlotte Evans who wouldn't depend on anyone, much less a boy?
She hated it. He made her see the light in the world again, and helped her tread over the shadows of her past - of suicides, of betrayals, of departures. Yet he was the one who ripped her heart out and didn't give it back.
What made matters worse was that they weren't even together when they broke up.
I should at least wish him a happy birthday... right?
Three weeks after he uttered the damned apology - no explanations given - she initiated a text after she never texted back.
She didn't know why. He could have ignored the message, but he didn't.
Her heart ached from the curt reply, and she didn't know why.
The utterance of gratitude from him hurt too much, much more than she liked to believe and much more than she liked. She, again, locked her phone up, not giving a care to the others who may need to talk to her about meetings and projects.
It wasn't until three days later when she suddenly remembered that she had to call a friend studying in Japan when she unlocked her phone; but the messages weren't read until after the call.
This was the only question on her mind when she saw Lucas' message, asking to meet her such that he could return a book to her, as well as giving her some of his old notes.
She didn't know how to respond.
What good would it do, anyway? There would likely be explanations, reasons, excuses. It's my fault in falling so hard for him, my fault in slowly letting him worm his way into me and letting him crush the remaining iron gate, my fault in showing him the remnants of my heart. If I hadn't let him in, oh, it would've saved me the pain.
I should have known better.
Lucas' message went unnoticed again, and he never received a reply.
She chose to run. Threw herself into her studies in the next semester, and then she got it - an exchange opportunity to Athens, Greece.
Not once did she hesitate to think what her unannounced departure would do to Lucas.
He had been hers once, though it never was official. He had her heart; and if her conjecture was correct, she had part of his as well.
Yet she didn't think twice before removing her old SIM card and replacing it with the Greek card, happy to pause ties from London, from High Holbourn; and more specifically, from him.
He only heard from his mates that Charlotte had left for Athens two days after her departure. Rage and devastation was what kept him moving for the next two weeks without her, without knowing whether she was well - when he was used to seeing her at least once a week.
Her British number was discontinued - though it wasn't surprising at all - and it took him some great cajoling before he could convince a friend from High Holbourn to give him her number in Athens.
He dared not text her or call her. If she had taken to such extreme measures to evade him, he would reckon that she was smart - and initiating everything now wouldn't help at all.
All he did was add her number into his contacts, and silently watch from afar how her WhatsApp profile picture and status changed.
Nothing ever happened, and he wasn't so surprised that she never replied to his message anymore.
What truly surprised him, however, was a reply from her in July. He had long lost count of the days passed since she left, and he was mildly shocked to find that it was already July, and the Lent term had ended.
The reply was plain, and simple. "Did you say you have to return 'Cell' to me? I have two hours for lunch break from work tomorrow."
He instantly jumped at the chance and called his mates that he wouldn't make it for the game of football they originally planned, citing family emergencies.
If only she was really his family, he muttered. If only she forgives me when I've barely forgiven myself.
He loved her. He loved her so much that it hurt, that he knew he would only drag her down. She had so many dreams, so many aspirations; and he would only be a burden to her.
He wasn't so sure anymore.
Turns out that he had hurt her with a decision he thought would be the best for the both of them.
The love he had for her was strong - so strong that he was willing to give her back her wings - even if the wings were too heavy, but hers, to begin with.
Yet he was stupid. He was a moron, a prick; and rightly one.
He had lost her once because of his selfish desires, thinking it would be for the best. He wouldn't ask for second chances, but he would damn well cherish this meeting - a meeting that could be the last between them.
It was one month later when Charlotte saw Lucas again. She had finally found the courage to reply to the text he sent her, the desire to meet him masked by the pretence that he owed her a book.
Spending one month away from him (when she used to see him almost once a week), with two weeks spent in a place away from everything she had ever known was a challenge, but it was helpful. A new language, a new culture, a new city where nobody knew her and questioned her past. It was perfect for her to rediscover herself, to let her realise that she was her own person.
It was never healthy to rely so heavily on a person. It was never healthy to depend almost solely on a boy who could break you and heal you at the same time, within one split second. Her heart was still slowly mending, but she was recovering, and she was getting there.
Her heart was broken. She found it ridiculous because quite frankly, she was not even dating him to begin with. She was never his, and she never even officially had him. She was someone there, at the right place at the wrong time and it had brought nothing but pain and tears.
But now she knew that she's strong enough to give Lucas a chance to explain himself, even if she was already resigned to the facts and the fate.
She dared not wish for a second chance. She wouldn't mind leaving everything that she had ever known and done with him behind for real. This was her life; she wasn't going to let anyone destroy it for her again.
Not even Lucas.
They met in a small cafe just across Charlotte's office, both of them drinking their coffee in silence. The book was returned, but both of them knew there was a bigger elephant in the room begging to be addressed.
"We both know that I asked you here not only to return the book to me," Charlotte began. "Actually, I've got a question."
She swallowed, a lump suddenly forming in her throat, and suddenly it was hard to speak. It was hard to articulate what was on her mind, the very thing that left her eyes void of tears in various sleepless nights. It was an elephant in the room begging to be addressed. The elephant, though potentially decreased in size, was still there; she would rather get it over and done with as soon as possible.
"Why... Lucas, what did you mean by 'sorry'?"