“It’s not that I don’t care about you. It’s not that I don’t want to be around you. I just don’t want to see you anymore.”
I remember she just stood there. And now its my turn to say something.
She just stood there. The white and pale grey sundress lightly whipping with the wind. The pink belt hugging her narrow waist. Her left hand holding her phone, the right at her side with her thumb gingerly circling the pads of her index and middle fingers. The sun’s light reflecting from her perfectly pale white face, refracting and creating halos like the lampposts that illuminate the park at night. Her chopped black hair shifting back and forth, dancing nervously with her skirt. She lifted and tucked a lock behind her ear. She adjusted her sunglasses and bit her lip.
She knows me. She knows what I want to say. She gave me the chance to say something else.
We were on the sidewalk in front of the coffeeshop where she worked. The cars milled by, brakes from the busses screeched and gasped, handmade whistles sounded off up and down the block. I stared into the windows of her Clubmasters with the chipped and faded wings, as the current of briefcases, lapels, skirts, and heels flowed around us. I could feel a gravity pulling me, asking me to swim along with them. But there I was, frozen by these blue eyes behind mirrored lenses. I lost myself in those eyes so many times before.
Or: the lenses, I guess. Whatever.
I gritted my teeth.
“Why,” I said.
She didn’t have to sigh, but she did. “I already told you why and you’re still asking.”
“I just don’t understand.”
“I don’t expect you to.”
“Can we talk about this tonight? I was expecting we’d just touch base. This… this is a little…”
She shifted. The lock fell from behind her ear as she looked down. Her thumb stopped circling and she met her other elbow, stroking her arm. “Look, I…”
“Let’s talk tonight. We’ll talk tonight.”
She stopped, crossing her right toes behind her left heel. She smiled that same wry smile and pecked me where my cheek meets my ear like she always had after our afternoon chats. She squeezed my arm with the same defining affection known only by muscle memory. Her blue eyes stared back with that same brightness and wonder and fire, and, for a second, I melted. Like I always do. She leaned in delicately, and whispered, “we’ll talk tonight.”
The cars halted. The traffic signs froze, radiating a warm amber as bystanders grew mute and turned into mannequins. Her hair sat suspended in the air, waiting. The light twinkled and diffused from her skin. She glowed. But my heart was racing.
She just stood there. Staring at me, holding my arm, smiling.
I took a step back.
“We won’t be talking tonight, will we?”
She pulled off her sunglasses and held them in both hands, inspecting them. She tucked them into my jacket pocket and placed her arms around my neck. I could feel her leaning away as if she wanted to pull me down. I held her softly. It looked like prom, her eyes searching mine.
Time accelerated back to its normal clip, as she stepped back, fading into the sea of pedestrians. I felt her eyes burning mine back, but I lost sight of her. I never saw her again.
I just stood there.