Our story. Written for: An Almost Lover.

.x.

Laughing and making small talk, we stand at my car, both of us slightly awkward and delaying the moment. We pass it with shy smiles and shuffling feet.

"I'm, uh, only a phone call or text away." I offer genuinely, nervously playing with my hair.

"Yeah, I know," You say, with a small grin and an easy gaze to meet. "But nothing beats-"

"The real thing or being in person, I know." I interrupt, believing I had finished your sentence as I have done several times on our few previous dates.

But another moment passes and you take a breath.

"You…nothing beats you."

Again, it's silent. Again, we shuffle our feet and pass small glances between one another and any random thing in the parking lot. I don't know what you felt in that moment, that maybe lasted three seconds, but for me, minutes went by. The weight and meaning of what you said pressed on me and it felt like I was flying. Inside, I was squealing and giddy.

Me. I was the real thing.

I should have kissed you then, but instead I blushed, smiled and laughed shyly, giving you a spoken farewell. I drove away and caught you watching from the balcony of your apartment in my rearview mirror.

My heart was full and I kept smiling the entire way home, repeating that moment in my head. Feelings of being valued and wanted floating to the surface. In the midst of it, I will admit, there was fear. Fear that I was heading into the lovestruck emotions too fast. Fear that I was over evaluating the implications of what you said, but no matter what fear arose, my happiness pushed it back. My heart stepped up and told me to trust it. It was cracked, fragile and bruised, and I was terrified to let it take control. However, the emotions felt so good that I handed over the reigns.

I shocked myself doing this. I've been cautious for a long time, so afraid of getting hurt again. My heart had taken damage, and there was still so much ache from the scars of loved ones who had broken it. But there was a different ache rising from beneath that. One of longing and hope and I caved beneath the weight of it.

Weeks later, it finally happens. We kiss one another, and it was tender and sweet, but not the way either one of us had imagined it. You had blubbered about not finding the courage to do so during our previous get togethers when you wanted to make that move so badly. You planned in your head that you were going to lean in slowly, with great care and gently place a kiss on my lips as we cuddled.

It did not go that way. Instead, we were both standing and you said that you had planned it so differently. I wrapped my arms around your neck and you smiled a very small smile and I leaned in. It was tender and sweet all the same, even if it hadn't gone the way you planned.

Weeks later though, I believe you get the kiss you had thought would be our first.

Five more minutes. Time had crept up on us, and I needed to get going. You asked for five more minutes and I didn't hesitate to oblige. Five more minutes to be close. Five more minutes to cuddle.

I still don't know how you did it, but you were able to say just the right things that result in me opening up and tearing down my walls just a little more. At times, it feels as though I just met you and in other moments, it's like I've known you for years. Time becomes irrelevant. It's like you've been apart of me from the beginning. Maybe it's that our souls are kindred spirits that see the pains we have each endured. Within you, I see true hurt and fading hope, but still you take the time to gingerly bandage my own emotional wounds because you believe I can heal. You hold so little faith in recovering yourself, and while it's obvious you will never be the same, you view yourself with despair, unaware that I'm falling for the person you are in the present...not the past one you speak of with such fond bitterness.

You will never be the same. You will always have that hurt. You will have those scars, but they don't define you. I know you could say that to me, and I desperately wish you could believe me if were to tell you the same. You speak sweetly, kindly and genuinely, doing your best to soothe old wounds. Tears are streaming down my face and I laugh ironically as you smile gently, your knowing, kind eyes seeing right through me. It's not painful, that piercing glare of yours. You see through my mask and while you don't point out what I'm doing, the small spark of understanding in your eyes convey to me that I'm not fooling your with my laughs and light jokes. I'm not fooling you, but you let me continue, all the while, I know that you know deeply exactly what I'm doing and why I do it.

Barely feeling it, your hand traces my jaw, and I swear I hear you whisper so quietly on my lips that you love me.

My tears pick up for a moment as we kiss, and when we break, I gasp for air. I was unsure whether or not you said that you loved me. I couldn't tell if it was my mind translating the emotions your kiss transferred to my lips, or if you actually spoke.

If I could have formed a clear thought, I would've said it back. Even if you hadn't said it aloud, I know that's what you were telling me. But instead we enjoyed the moment in silence as I let my tears dry up. Five minutes turned into an hour. I hardly noticed because time did what it always did when I'm with you. It ceased its existence.

Eventually though...my time with you ceased altogether.

Gradually, other feelings you had for someone else came to light and I knew it would hurt me in the end. I think I saw it from the beginning. I knew who you were when we started, and who you loved as I fully entered the picture. Deep down, I knew you were going to hurt me. You weren't ready for another relationship. You still talked about her in present tense, correcting yourself seconds too late, fumbling awkwardly and glancing hesitantly at me as you did. I knew. I really did. I guess I just hoped you would prove me wrong.

You didn't.

Today, we don't talk and those happy feelings have slowly died and the lovestruck sensations numbed. We had no closure. You simply stopped texting or calling me. You stopped asking me to come over. I waited for you to reach out for weeks, butterflies stirring in my stomach every time my phone vibrated. In the end, I stopped waiting and accepted that our time was over. I accepted and welcomed that familiar pain. I listened to that small voice you silenced for a few passing moments as it told me I had been foolish. My heart deflated and shrank back against that voice, because it knew it had been too eager and hopeful.

Another chapter in my life is all you were. It's all I was for you as well, yet I don't hold any resentment for you. Rather, I hope you are happy, because I really did mean it when I wished you viewed yourself from a better perspective. That you held your own heart with the tenderness you traced my jaw with. That you turned your kind gaze inward and saw the gentle person I did. We had no closure, but there was never a fight. We simply let our own hurt open the old wounds, not wanting to do it to each other. Even now, when my thoughts wander back to you, I wish for your happiness.

While it hurt detangling my heartstrings, I really did mean it when I wanted to say "I love you" and I believe you did as well. I don't think our paths will cross again, but I'm glad they did for a short time. You helped me see I could love again, even though it hurt.

.x.

Thank you for the chapter. Written by: A Passing Fancy.