I couldn’t feel my heart. It was nonexistent for the 7.5 seconds it took for him to give me his answer. I searched for the answer in his eyes, but it didn’t really matter. His facial expressions never quite matched his tone. He always had an odd toothy smile in the face of stress, awkwardness, anger, and confusion.
“I really thought about it.”
I was sweating. In my defense I was standing next to an oven full of cupcakes during a Chicago summer. I guess I’ll never know if it was his words or the atmosphere that made me sweat that much.
My mind instantly went to a younger, more foolish version of me. You know… from last night. I planned what cupcakes I’d make and washed my sheets and cleaned my room. I had a long talk with Roxy about how I know we had problems but I was sure we could get over them.
“So he only lasts 90 seconds. That’s fine, we can make it work. More foreplay, numbing cream, even going a second round. You know, if he is in the mood. Which he usually isn’t because he says he’s too sensitive. I really wish he would let me hug him afterwards but his body is just so sensitive after sex. Okay, whole other problem. I’ll make this work. We can make this work.”
Roxy nodded her head and warned me that he may not want to get back together.
“I know. Part of me wants to believe he wouldn’t give up on us that easily. Oh my god, Roxy. We might be together again by this time tomorrow.”
“I thought about it for a long time, and I want to be friends.”
I slowly turned away from him and held onto the stovetop to keep myself from falling. Is this what a heart attack feels like? I think I’m having a heart attack. There’s nothing in me. It’s all gone. It’s all just flying around me. He’s not even here. Nothing is here. Only my shallow breaths and this stove top.
“Is it because of her?”
“It’s her isn’t it? You’re throwing this away for someone you don’t even know. We have history. We are best friends. You’re a fucking asshole.”
I sauntered off into the back stairwell.
“It’s not about her. We’re not even dating. We’re just talking.”
“Joseph, a week ago you told me that you wished you were with me. What the fuck?”
“You missed me. You missed me by a week and I’m sorry but it’s the truth.”
I sat on the top step and he followed. I couldn’t do anything but beg. With tears in my eyes I moved a few steps down and faced him on my knees.
“Joseph I love you. Please don’t choose her. What am I going to do without you? Without this? You are my best friend.”
He pushed my hands away as I tried to touch his face.
“Please don’t do this. Get up.”
“No. I can’t. I have to fight for you because we promised each other we always would. You fight for what you love. That’s what we always said.”
” I don’t love you anymore Jess. I don’t know how it happened I just fell out of love. There was nothing left. I don’t know why but it’s gone.”
I hate to say it, but this went on for twenty minutes. I groveled on my knees for twenty minutes. I begged him to love me back. To find it in himself to love me back. To remember who he fell in love with.
But to no avail.
Once I realized that begging wasn’t going to help, I got up. I thought about how I was going to kill myself. Would I leave a note for him? Maybe then he’d have to live with it forever. He’d never forget me. Any woman he’d be with in the future would permanently have my face on. He wouldn’t be able to escape me.
I walked up the stairs and rested my arms on the banister. I looked at the alley from the window.
He waited for me to react, but I couldn’t.
After all the tears, the heart wrenching pain depression and this relationship had put me through. After being rejected by the second man I ever loved – the first being my father – I just couldn’t react anymore.
I felt a sense of peace wash over me. The sun had started to set a little bit. I took a deep breath and he held his.
“Someday… I have no idea when. I don’t even know what will make you realize it. Someday you’re going to look back and come to find that this was the day you made the biggest mistake of your life. You will regret it.”
He only stared at me and said, “I won’t regret it. I’m sure I don’t love you.”
278 days and counting.