He just strode by, taking in all my passions that lined my cafe wall. I love that wall, and he already has me jealous from just looking at it. He brushed his fingers across the cracks in between picture frames. It made the patches of bare wall seemed larger and larger until it felt nearly empty of all objects.
What good was the damn wall with him anyway. He knew everything on it. Every quirk that I displayed there he knew. I wanted to everyone to know them. It’s less explaining to do. I wanted to go up and hug him. Or just touch him. Only I really didn’t want to touch him. My heart kept making hollow jumps in my chest and my hands were we. I loved him still, but only cause I always had. Only out of habit. And what a tragedy it is to love out of habit.
He carried a brief case in one hand and had thin rectangular glasses on his face
I stared too, not at the wall but at him. “Can I help you?” I asked straightening my apron.
“Oh.” he replied looking me from the top of my head to my worn sneakers,” yeah, a black coffee please.” I went to brew it for him. Only he would walk into and cafe and order a black coffee, which he could get at the next fast food restaurant for cheaper, but I wasn’t going to say anything. I used the k-cup machine I usually use for myself, no sense in going the extra mile.
“Here you go,” I said handing him a perfect and white cup with it’s own saucer filled to the brim with fresh coffee. He looked down at it with the corner of his lips twisted into a impressed smile.
“You were always…detailed oriented.”
“It’s called being a barista,” I replied with a monstrous roll of my eyes.
“Call it what you want,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders.The dishes clattered in his hands. He was terrible at hiding how nervous he was already; shaky hands made it impossible. He set the dishes on a nearby table.
“What are you here for?” I asked soberly.
“Just to …talk,” he replied. I rolled my eyes again.
“Okay,” I said,” what do you want to talk about?”
“The past,” he replied. He rubbed his palms against the sides of his dress pants.
“That narrows it down,” I said allowing the sarcasm to be thick in my voice.
“You know what I mean,” he said.
“What do you want to talk about? Should we exchange apologies and thank you’s and be on our way again?” I spat with so much malice he looked as if I had smacked him across his face.
“See this-” he clenched his fist and brought it under is chin,” is why I came back.”
“Oh, so you are staying now or something,” I replied ,” you think you can be my prince charming .” I flared my arms all around.
“No– I am not coming back, I mean I am, but–will you stop that.” He grabbed my arms to stop them from flying all over the place.
“Then what?” I asked.
“Can we sit,” he asked motioning to some chairs that sat next to the table with his coffee. I nodded.”Look I know that you are mad at me-”
“I am furious with you,” I interrupted.
“Oh will you…” he took a deep breath and leaned back,” Why are you mad at me?” I crossed my arms.
“Your broke my rule,” I pouted.
“I didn’t, I swear I didn’t. How many times to I have to tell you?”
“I had one rule.”
“You had a million rules,” he replied exasperated.
“But it was the first one.” I hit the table.
“I loved you,” he said softly. My heart caved in on its self.
“I told you not to say that unless you meant it. That was my rule.” I said with equal softness.
He made a face palm.
“You know damn well that is not what this is about.”
“Oh really,” I said crossing my arms. I could feel the pettiness creep up and swallow me,” Enlighten me.”
“You pushed me away,” he accused. I stiffened and crossed my arms and legs.
“Oh so it’s my fault,” I accused back.
“No. You just… look I didn’t come here to fight.”
“Why did you come here then?” I asked, pushing my hair behind my ear with a rather rapid gesture”Cause that’s all we do. We just fight!”
He wrung his hands and thinned his lips,”When we…went our separate ways, I was in pretty bad shape but um-” he paused and furrowed his eyebrows,” I knew you had to be worse.” I crossed my arms. He grabbed my wrist and pulled them away from my chest. He held them in his hands. “Look, I’m not good with words-it wasn’t that you were weak or are weak now. You’re just so…passionate—big hearted– I don’t even know-”
I put my hand up and closed my eyes.”Don’t tell me how I feel…or who I am.”
“But you don’t even know!” he exclaimed and jumped up from his chair. “You can display it on your damn wall, but this,” he threw his hands up and ran them through his black hair. His beautiful head. Damn it.”Damn it!..You can’t love something with half a heart or feel anything with half a heart for that matter. With that much heart- you can never have a clean break. Everything just shatters.”I felt something cold against my wrist.I looked down to see a tiny shiny gold wedding band on his finger. He was so right about one thing that I hated him even more for it, but all I do is shatter.All I do is shatter and all the pieces get lost in the cracks of everything.
“Did you came here to tell me you got over me easier than I did you,” I said with my eyes locked on his wedding band. He followed my gaze.
“Lib it’s not like that-,” he started but it was too late.I ripped my hand from his and stood up from my chair. I didn’t have a remark or sarcasm to return.I rubbed my mouth and nose as if that could shake some charisma out of me but there was just raw silence.
“You’re only making this worse, you know,” I said. My eyes were burning.
“It has to get worse before it gets better,” he returned.
“Says who?” I replied. He only let half of his mouth grin.
“I don’t know. Some old wise man or woman I suppose. It’s important. It’s the natural order of things.”
I sighed.“I don’t know how,” I told him.
“You don’t know how to what?” he asked.
“Mourn. Grieve. Be sad,” I answered,” I just…don’t know how.”
“Something sad happens, then you’re sad. You cry,” he shrugged his shoulders,” but you feel better with time. You remember that it won’t be that bad later.”
“Don’t what?” he asked.
“Get better with time,” I replied.
“You’re not sad. You can’t move on unless you get sad,” he responded and sat me down back in my chair as he sat down in his.
“Says who?” I asked.
“What experience?” I shot crossing my arms. In return he through his in the air.
“Jees Libby, you know you’re not the only one with a broken heart or two.”
“I don’t think that,” I said uncrossing my arms.
He sighed,” I know.” I sat down again.
“Is she pretty?” I asked. I know it was stupid and unimportant but I didn’t want silence.
“My wife? Yeah she is,” he said with a smirk.
“What’s her name?” I asked.
“Ginny,” he replied.
“I missed you a lot, ya know.”
“Well, I hoped so,” he replied. I laughed.
“So much in fact, my mom called an intervention.”
“What was it, an anti-Ryan intervention.”
“Something along those lines,” I replied.
“I had to go to Europe to get over you, if it makes you feel any better,” he said.
“Oh please, don’t use me as an excuse to actually follow my dreams,” I replied.
“You did make me, in a way.”
“I did not force you on a plane.”
“I went by boat.”
“You truly are insane,” I laughed.
“It was you though, that really pushed me.”
“Alright, I’ll take the credit,” I replied.
“I met my wife while I was going through Sweden.”
“She’s Swedish? Nice.” That was when that nostalgia hit me in the gut like a frying pan; we were friends before lovers. Best friends in fact, and there was no jealousy and that terrible ache.
“Actually, she’s an another American that just happened to be in Sweden too and we fell in love.”
“No, she’s Swedish,” he replied.
“You are ridiculous,” I laughed then stopped when a sudden and familiar ache filled my chest. It reached my eyes in a hot flash. He saw that. All that ache bawled up in me. I’m so small. How can there even be that much inside. He reached over and grabbed my hands.
“You have had too much hurt, and I’m sorry but-” he choked a bit,” You have to let it go. Remember.”
“I despise that sentence with every sense of the word.” I replied choking on a sob that I was determined to keep down..
He laughed,” I’m sure you do.”
“You,” I pointed at him,” always bring this on.” I then changed the direction of my finger to my overflowing eyes.
“That’s it.” he said.
“What is?” I asked.
“That. What you’re doing” He jumped up and clapped his hands in a serious triumph.
I laughed,” Okay.” He paced.”What’s next?” I asked with the tears dripping off my chin now.
He whistled.”That is the question.”
“This sucks,” I sniffed.
“I know.” He paced some more.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Look,” I said,” I’m sad. That’s all I got to do, Right?”
“You aren’t sad. You’re just… overwhelmed.” He nibbled his finger nails.
I threw my head back.“This is stupid,” I laughed.
“No it’s not.” he said with eyes stern,” There is pain that needs to be felt and things to be remembered.” he rubbed his face. “You’ve done so much. This. This you can do.” His hands gripped my shoulders with certainty.
“I don’t know.” I said as I wiped tears off my face.
“There is things to be felt and remembered,” he said leaning back in his chair.
“I don’t know,” I repeated like an echo. His grips on my shoulders grew tighter and I don’t remember what this feeling is. This feeling that is filling me up but crushing and drowning me.
“I loved you,” he said.
“I remember,” I replied,” I loved you.”
That’s the thing. I still do. But I don’t. I just feel the stain of what we were on my heart like burnt cooking spray on you favorite skillet. He leaves and I am left with his Love’s Residue burnt on my favorite heart. But I remembered;it was all worth the while.