Today was going to be different from other days. Today – he was going to be there.
As she ran a brush through her hair, she worried if she will be disappointed again. Just as she has been in the past. Always disappointed. He never turns to look, never holds her gaze for more than a second. Every time that happens, her heart breaks just a little bit more. There must be nothing left of her heart then.
She debated over what to wear. A dress? With three-quarter pants. Yes. The blue-green colour would complement her fair complexion. She finished dressing and glanced at her watch. Oh, she was going to be late if she did not leave now.
Finally, she arrived at the place where she knew he would be too. She looked up at the pristine white building. Was he there yet? Was he on his way?
She walked up the stairs, took her seat silently in the second row. She knew that he would take a seat few rows behind her. When he was away, she always felt an emptiness in her heart, like something was just not quite right. However, today, he was back; she knew she would be feeling differently.
The service started and she did not have the courage to look behind her to see if he was there, if he was watching, if he cared at all that she was sitting right in front of him. She struggled to stare directly in front of her instead of whirling around to catch a glimpse of him, after waiting patiently for so long, when her heart was practically aching with longing. She counted the minutes to the end of service. Maybe she would approach him then – and express what was contained in her heart.
Service ended, and she trudged down the stairs with the rest of the congregation. Her eyes were completely focused on her next step in a desperate effort to distract herself from her heart thumping against her chest as if it were about to burst out of it.
Quietly, she stood by a table, oblivious to the chattering of the crowd around her. To her ears, everything was silent but for the throbbing of blood in her eardrums. She lifted her chin, looked between the figures of people she had known all her life, searching eagerly for the sight of the person she had grown up with, and eventually fallen in love with.
And there he was, standing barely two feet away from her. She gasped and held her breath. Her eyes grew round and big, as if she could hardly believe he was actually here.
What do I do now? What do I do? she asked herself. She has waited for months, waited for his return. And now that he has, she is at a loss for words, what to do.
Just go over and say Hello. At least that’s a start.
It seems stupid that after all this time, after what they have been through, all she had to say was Hello. Even for that, she could feel her legs going weak in the knees. But she had to go talk to him; she just had to.
She braced herself, took a deep breath. Staring straight at him, she took a step forward, drawing courage from the fact that he was within her reach, that he was this close to her.
As she walked towards him, she saw his eyes dart in her direction, then widen as if in surprise. Then, unexpectedly, a frown appeared and, like a flash, it disappeared. Nevertheless, she was so thrown off by his reaction that she stopped dead in her tracks.
Her heart turned cold when, fairly quickly, the person she was dying to speak to turned and walked away. Her lower lip quivered as she watched his slowly disappearing back make his way to his car.
Did he just leave me alone? Is he trying to avoid me?
He seemed to be making slow, slow steps towards his car. She felt desperate. Was he really leaving? After being away for so long, he was leaving without saying anything? Will he be back? When would be the next time she could see him again?
A flash of his frown, his indifference to her presence. Why does he not want to talk to me? What have I done wrong?
A flash of a long-ago memory, of better times – him smiling at her, laughing with her, talking in earnest. A memory of a broken bench, of a park, of children flying kites. The same memory where he looks shyly at her, mouths the three words she has waited and hoped for him to say. That memory where her eyes grew round in surprise again, where she smiles, her heart full, and they both burst out laughing. Where has that person gone? Who is this person who completely ignores me, who refuses to talk to me?
In her mind, she hears a silent crack, and she knows that it can be nothing else but her breaking heart.
Unconsciously, her hand covers her mouth as the tears welled up and flowed from her eyes down to her chin.
She watches silently as he got into his car, as the engine purred to life, and as he drove away, leaving her and her heart in pieces on the floor.