Near To You

She was in love. She was broken. She met someone. But she's not ready.

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1. Near to You

 

Near to You

“For the best.”

            She pulled her jacket more tightly around her. The rain was hard and cold. She tried to stay calm. But it was not easy. People watch her from the windows of the small, softly lit shops, curiously. She shoves her hands into her pockets, not knowing what to do with them. She doesn’t know what to do with any of her.

            “You can’t love me. You never will.”

            She doesn’t know what to feel until her eyes become blurry. She feels the tears straying down her face, touching her tired skin softly. Soon, she’s just standing there. Pulling off the hood of her jacket, she lets the cold drops of rain fall over her. It’s a strange sensation, making her feel fragile like glass. Her strength is drained and she feels as if she is heavy with sorrow, but light enough to fly away with the wind.

            “For the best.” 

            A strand of her brown hair slaps her in the face, snapping her out of her dark state. She brushes it away, along with the tears, and heads home, her footsteps soft on the wet pavement.

            When she gets home, she opens the door quietly. But everything reminds her. The flowers by the window, the pictures nailed carelessly onto the cream walls. She’s overwhelmed. The door creaks shut behind her and she slides down to the floor, leaning against the door. For a second, she can’t breathe. Everything there seems to hold a memory she no longer wants to relive. Even the fire that crackles ever so warmly in the fireplace causes her to feel cold.

            Suddenly, there’s a rush of instinct. She rips the photos off the walls and throws them into a box. Along with the pictures comes a sweater, a hat, a plastic ring, anything that is a reminder of him. She digs through her drawers, finding memories and tossing them in the box. When she finishes, she slides the box under her bed.

            For a while, she feels lost again. She goes and sits down in her favorite chair, sinking into it. But even then, it feels like he is there. He has etched a scar in her heart, one that she cannot remove, no matter how many band aids. Closing her eyes, she disappears.

            She was sitting in her favorite café, feeling a bit lonelier than usual. Her mother had passed away not long before and she felt a bit empty. There weren’t many people in the café, just some regulars and a few people she couldn’t recognize. She was waiting for her hot chocolate and cinnamon bun, her favorite treat for quiet days like this. That was when he walked in.

            “Hello, there. You look a little down, mind if I sit here and try to cheer you up?” he asked, his blue eyes glowing.

            Figuring it couldn’t hurt; she nodded, adding a weak smile. “Sure.”

            “Thanks.” He sat down, warming his hands around his coffee. “So, what exactly is getting such a beautiful young lady so sad?”

            She blushed at his indirect compliment. “I just feel…lonely, that’s all,” she said, picking her words carefully.

            A smirk appeared onto his lips. “I see how it is; you don’t think I’m interesting, right?”

            “NO! I mean, no, I meant-,”she started to deny.

            “I know what you meant,” he said softly. “I was just teasing.”

            She felt a smile creep onto her face.

            He smiled even wider. “I knew I could cheer you up.” He checked his watch. “Look, I gotta go, but, I’ll see you around right?”

            She nodded. “Maybe.”

            He slid a napkin towards her, with his phone number on it. “Until we meet again,” he said, then left.

            She jolted out of her chair, feeling sadness seep into her again. She needed to escape. If she was going to dream about him in her sleep, she certainly wouldn’t sleep tonight. She stood up slowly and decided to go somewhere they’d never been together. Something she could look at without going back into the past, something that didn’t involve him.

            Grabbing, her car keys, she rushed out the door. Once she got in the car, she started driving. She didn’t really know where she was going, or what she was going to do. It didn’t really matter. It was reaching dawn now, but she wasn’t tired. The rain came down, whacking her windows in a stead rhythm. It managed to calm her so that she wouldn’t be reckless and get in a car crash.

            Driving along the familiar roads, she spotted the library she used to immerse herself in, the ice cream shop she went with her friends to on a particularly hot day, the hospital she ended up in when she first tried to ride a bike. Slowly, better moments of the past started to come back to her. She began to feel a little bit lighter, softer.

            Then she drove past the café. The one she had met him in and the one she had fell in love with him in. The problem was… he hadn’t fallen in love with her. He had tried, so hard. But she knew he never could, so she let him go. It was either force to live knowing she was forcing him to feel something he couldn’t for her, or let him go. Like they say, if someone truly loves you, when you let them go, they will come back.

            He hadn’t come back. He probably never would.

            She felt the tears threatening to spill again, but she willed herself not to cry. Crying wouldn’t change anything.

            After some time, she came across a park she didn’t even know existed. She found herself parking by the curb and getting out of the warmth of her car. There weren’t too many people there, just a few morning walkers and joggers. The rain had stopped, and the sun started to rise above the peaceful landscape.

            For a while, she just walked, like many of the other people. There was a path that wound its way all around the park. She followed it slowly, taking in the fresh smell of the grass, still glowing with the rain and dew. Trees waved slowly with the wind, and she spotted a few late flowers that still thrived through the freezing autumn temperatures.

            Her feet crunched on the leaves that were spread out on the pathway. A lonely bird sang his song, waiting for the season of fall to end so that he could have spring again. The sun continued to rise, splaying out a beautiful array of colors. The clouds looked like wisps of gold twirling in the sky. She felt renewed, brighter.

            Eventually, her pointy boots started to pinch her toes and she sat down on a bench, enjoying dawn in all its glory. She felt someone sit next to her, but she was too absorbed in the splendor of nature.

            “Beautiful, isn’t it?” A voice spoke aloud thoughtfully.

            She turned her head towards the speaker to find a young man, who looked about her age. His hair was a very light brown, sitting on his head very neatly. Her dark eyes connected with light hazel ones, which seemed to change colors by the second. She nodded her head in agreement. Her heart fluttered a little, just barely noticeable, yet she felt it all the same.

            “A penny for your thoughts?” he asked after a small silence. She shifted back and absorbed the magnificent sky.

            “It’s just, well, everything beautiful seems to end. This dawn is going to end soon and…well, lots of wonderful things always end,” she said, speaking her mind.

            He nodded with understanding. “It wouldn’t be as beautiful if it didn’t end. And though the dawn ends, it will return. When one happy thing ends, you can count on another to begin.”

            She smiled for the first time in weeks. “That was deep.”

            He bumped her light with his shoulder, “I can be deep when I want to.”

            “Are you saying you’re not always deep?” she asked, smiling more.

            He laughed lightly. It was a soothing sound. “You are a strange person.”

            She faux scoffed. “That wasn’t very nice, or deep for that matter.”

            “I see, you’re a smart one, aren’t you?” he smirked victoriously. Then he seemed to realize something. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I introduced myself. I’m Jayr.”

            It was a strange name. But she nodded, relishing the way it rolled off the tongue. Slowly, she began to open up.

            She felt again, healing, though very gradually. Her inner turmoil seemed to disappear as they continued with their playful banter. Soon, it was well into noon. She would have to go home sooner or later.

            “I should be getting home…” she said, trying to end their conversation about embarrassing high school stories. He just sat there, examining her for a while. She snapped her fingers. “Hello?”

            His face turned a light shade of red. “Sorry, kind of got lost there,” he explained.

            She grinned. “Hard not to get lost in these eyes, isn’t it?”

            “Oh, stop teasing me. Anyways, phone number?” he asked straightforwardly.

            She laughed. “That’s how you ask for people’s phone number’s these days?” Still, she wrote her number on his hand with a pen.

Two Days Later

            “I loved him, but he didn’t love me. I could tell,” she explained to Jayr.

            His hazel eyes darkened a bit. “That’s unfair. Why didn’t he tell you?”

            She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter, because anyone could tell he cared for me, but didn’t like me in that way.” Her voice broke a little towards the end of the sentence.

            “Still…” he argued.

            “Anyways, I was and still am slightly depressed that what we had was fake, at least, to him. To me, it was everything,” she said softly.

            He ran his hands through his hair. “I understand,” then he tried to lighten the mood. “I just don’t understand why he would pretend with someone as wonderful as you.”

            She felt a blush creep up onto her face. “You liar,” she punched him softly in the shoulder. Jayr shrugged, a lopsided smile on his face.

Two Weeks Later

            The rain was pouring down again—only this time, the sun was shining—giving the world a sort of fresh, new feel as a rainbow shimmered in the sky.

            “As a child, I’ve always wanted to dance in the rain,” she stated.

            He laughed. “So why didn’t you?”

            She rolled her eyes. Sometimes, Jayr could be so oblivious. “People would see me! Everyone would laugh at me! Do you think I would want that to happen?”

            “Yeah?” he asked daringly. He took her hand.

            “May, I have this dance?” he asked in a horrible British accent, his hazel eyes bright with laughter.

            The words triggered a memory.

            “May I have this dance?” It was him, his blue eyes, his blond hair. He asked it meaningfully, but his eyes were wandering around the room. She hadn’t noticed, too caught up in the moment.

            “Of course,” she replied, even adding a curtsey for emphasis.

            They laughed and started twirling around the dance floor. Other seniors were gliding across the room as a slow song blared through the speakers. She leaned into him, feeling his warmth. He was more hesitant, his arms stayed by his sides. She tried to ignore that, and kept on dancing.

            When the song was over, she felt wonderful and content. The words came out of her mouth before she could stop them.

            “I love you.”

            She didn’t know if he had heard her, though she was pretty sure he did. Still, he didn’t show any emotion on his face or respond. He just smiled.

            She had thought that he hadn’t heard her. But the truth was he hadn’t loved her back, and wasn’t brave enough to tell her that.

            A hand waves in front of her face, snapping her out of her reverie.

            “Is anything wrong?” Jayr asks, concerned. He’s always so thoughtful.

            She shook her head, “I’m fine…just distracted, I guess.”

            He doesn’t look like he believes her, and he doesn’t let it go.

            She feels a sort of yearning, a wistful feeling. At first, she isn’t sure herself what she is feeling. But then she realizes. She isn’t completely over her first love yet, even after she broke up with him.

            “Look, I really care about you,” he tries to tell her, trying to describe how he feels. “I really like you and-,” he began.

            She stops him. “I’m sorry. I’m so horrible, but, I don’t want to lie to you. I’m just not ready yet. I need more time,” she told him.

            He handed her a paper, which she slipped into her coat pocket. “Here, just…take it.”

            She nodded wordlessly; her mind was occupied with too many thoughts to really comprehend what he was saying.

            She places a kiss on his cheek and leaves, whispering, “I just need some time,” over and over again.

            When she got home, she sat down by the fire and thought. She thought long and hard. Longer and harder than she had in quite some time…

            She knows that Jayr calms her. When she is near him, he erases the marks that have been left by heartbreak. When she is near him, she feels at peace again. He is her healer. When she’s with him, she feels different, she feels new. He makes her forget about the scars on her broken heart. She still feels cautious around him; she’s still worried about being hurt again. But he is kind to her, he doesn’t push her.

            Then there was her first crush, love, and breakup. She just couldn’t seem to get completely over him. Somewhere deep inside she missed him and wished for him to come back. They had so many memories, so many moments that she couldn’t let go of. He was kind to her also; he was everything she had ever wanted.

“For the best.”

            Sometimes, it’s hard to let go. Especially when you have to let go of something you love very much.

            “You can’t love me. You never will.”

            But he hadn’t wanted her.

            But he hadn’t loved her.

            “I love you,” she said, smiling happily under the moonlight.

            He paused for a moment, giving her a small smile. “I…love you too.”

            She suddenly felt uneasy and hopeless. He always paused whenever she told him that. He was never confident about those three words. Her eyes started to water.

            “You don’t really mean that, do you?” she asked with her voice becoming more quiet than usual.

            He was silent. He didn’t know what to say to that.

            “You never really loved me, did you?” she asked softly, her throat closing.

            “Look, I’m sorry, but…maybe I can try,” he suggested hopefully.

            “You can’t love me. You never will.” She stated.

            He didn’t say anything.

            “Why didn’t you tell me?” her voice broke.

            “It was for the best.”

            “For the best.” She repeated, as the tears started sliding down her face. And then she turned and walked away.

            She would let go of her first love someday.

            She reached into her pocket and retrieved the slip of paper Jayr had given her earlier that day. She flipped it over and read two words:

            I’ll wait.

            She smiles.

A Month Later

            Time has passed. The spring has come. The leaves that once lay, littering the ground, now rustle as a breeze sweeps through the trees. The birds sing harmoniously, back and happy that the flowers are blooming and the world is warmer. Everything is fresh, everything is different. Yet it is the same.

She sits down on the bench in the park, admiring the serenity of spring. For a moment, her eyes close and she feels. She feels once more. And she realizes something. She checks her watch. And she waits. And waits.

Soon, when it the sun begins to set, someone sits next to her. She turns to connect her eyes to a pair of hazel eyes. Her whole being relaxes and she smiles. Jayr smiles in return. He notices that she seems brighter, livelier today. He notices that something unusual is going to happen. They have been meeting every week, and never has she had such a fierce determination in her eyes.

He watches her for a while, not speaking.

She reaches into her pocket, pulling something out. She hands it to him.

He notices that it is a wrinkled slip of paper. At first he is confused. Then he flips it over to find the words:

            I’m ready.

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