It hadn’t been long at all really, I think around two weeks. But here it had finally come- the day I’ve been dreading that entire time. I sluggishly stopped the alarm on my phone and attempted to sit up in my bed. I remembered reading something once that once you sit up in bed you can actually wake up for the day, but there wasn’t anything in the world that could motivate me for what today had in store.
I somehow managed to get to my feet and headed to the bathroom to get the shower going. While I waited for the water to heat up I went into my kitchen and started the coffee maker. Then I went back into the bathroom and undressed. The hot water felt amazing, and I realized that this would likely be the best part of my day- standing under hot water. So I took a little extra time to enjoy how much it relaxed me and then eventually washed myself up and wrapped a towel around my waist.
Now I have to pick out something to wear and I have no idea what one wears on this occasion. I didn’t want to look like I was in bad shape, but I also thought dressing up too much might seem like I was trying too hard to show I was fine. And that’s something I definitely am not. I grabbed a red sweatshirt and threw on a pair of khakis. That’s somewhere in the middle I figured, not too fancy but it also didn’t give away the fact that I had spent the majority of the last two weeks laying in my room- which was an absolute mess. Alright better start my car, pretty sure it snowed a few inches last night. To be honest I actually had no idea whether or not it had snowed, but it seemed like there was always a chance for it this time of year.
I went to my kitchen window and gazed out until I spotted my car in the apartment parking lot. I clicked the remote start on my keys and saw the headlights turn on. By far one of the best purchases I’ve made, and I got lucky that the signal would reach from my kitchen window. It didn’t look like there was anymore than an inch or two on the windshields of most cars, so I shouldn’t have to scrape anything at least. Hey, there’s a win for today- I’m gonna need it.
I grudgingly searched my pantry for some means of food to eat for breakfast. Why is there never any food here, I wondered. Oh yeah, for the last two weeks I’ve been cooped up in this damn apartment. I found a box of cereal in the far back of the cabinet. Thank God, cereal has long expiration dates. I poured it into a bowl and went to the fridge to grab some milk. Damn it, milk does not have a long expiration date. Let’s see, expires February sixteenth and today’s the twenty-first. Against my own instincts I unscrewed the cap and gave it a sniff.
“Oh that’s..ugh.” I muttered to myself as I gagged.
My cat had arrived in the kitchen from some unknown location in the apartment, I never knew where he was exactly. I mean I’m not saying I’m a bad pet owner, but cats are just sneaky like that.
“You hungry?” I asked him as if I was talking to a friend who had just stayed the night.
He gazed at me with wide eyes- a look which basically said, “Of course I’m hungry dumbass you’re the one that feeds me and it’s almost twelve o’clock!”
Wait a sec- almost twelve? I must’ve really slept in! Looks like it’s just gonna be coffee for breakfast. I grabbed the cat food from under the kitchen sink and poured a big bowl for him to make up for my lateness. Then I sat on one of the three bar stools along my kitchen island and drank my coffee while I scrolled through social media on my phone. I’ve still got ten minutes before I have to go, I thought to myself happily. I’m usually quite concerned with time- but the last two weeks it hasn’t mattered a whole lot, so I apologize if I gave you a rough first impression.
I sucked down the last bit of my coffee and then went to the front door. Thinking last minute I should probably grab a coat, I threw one on that was conveniently hanging next to me.
“See ya later.” I called to my cat as I swung the door open, walked out, and locked it behind me.
I made my way to my car which by now had melted the majority of the snow off of the windshield. I climbed in, which was more of a struggle than it should be, for my car isn’t the biggest and I’m quite tall. I threw it in reverse and turned around to look out the back windshield. Oh yeah, I forgot my remote start doesn’t turn on the back defrost. Well, no time to wait now! I back up very slowly out of my parking space and pray that I won’t slam into any vehicles or small children. I thought to myself quickly that I probably wouldn’t feel as bad if I ran over an adult’s foot or hit their car- but I really didn’t think I could handle accidentally backing over a small child today. Just not any room for that on my emotional agenda.
I backed out just fine and drove through the apartment parking lots until I got to turn onto the main road. I turned on the radio and switched through all of the channels before finally deciding just to turn it off. That’s how it had been for these past two weeks- nothing sounded good. I was rarely ever hungry and nothing seemed to interest or excite me. And even though I could hear my stomach rumbling- the prospect of eating wasn’t even remotely appealing.
I could feel my palms begin to sweat as I neared my destination, a coffee shop in the next town over. It was a place I had been to several times, but today it was the last place in the world that I wanted to be. My left hand slipped off the steering wheel and my car swerved a little bit before I could adjust it back. That’s how much sweat was starting to build up. It was never anywhere else on my body though, which was nice. I knew a couple guys in high school who would get sweaty armpits that could be spotted a mile away. I guess that’s something to be thankful for. I pulled into the parking lot and my heart dropped, it felt like I had just gulped down my most important organ.
There was her car. I hadn’t seen it for well, you guessed it- two weeks. It made me happy and sad and overall just really disappointed about the meeting that was ahead. Thinking quickly that it would be awkward to park next to her in case she was still in her car or when we both left after this, I pulled my car into an open spot in the next aisle over. It didn’t look like she was in her car. I didn’t know if that was better or worse than her already being inside.
I turned off my key and made myself take a deep breath. I told myself that no matter what happened in that coffee house today, at least this would all be over with. I won’t lie to you though, a big part of me still had this crazy hope that she’d want to get back together. I told that part of me to shut up, and that it was very likely wrong and stupid for even considering the idea. I clambered out of my car and walked towards the entrance. One more deep breath I told myself before I entered. No wait, what if people see me do that, that’d be weird. I forced myself to open the door and walk inside.
There weren’t a whole lot of people, which was comforting, and soon enough I spotted her- sitting at a small table in the back. As I walked up I offered a smile to her- after all she did look stunning. She wore an olive green romper with a subtle black pattern across it. She always looks good in that color, I thought to myself. She didn’t have much on for make-up, which was common with her, and today it looked as if she just had on mascara. She wasn’t one of those girls who needed make-up to be pretty though, it just complimented her natural self even more.
“Hey how have you been?” she smiled back and asked me as I pulled out my chair and took a seat across from her.
“Oh not too bad. Pretty bored, though. How about you?” I replied.
“I’ve been staying fairly busy. Maybe if you went back to college you wouldn’t be so bored.” she said, there was a hint of accusation in there right away.
I was surprised she brought that up so soon. It was one of the main reasons why we broke up in the first place, she was big into college and her major, and I had decided that more school just wasn’t what I wanted to do.
“I think you know that’s likely not going to happen.” I replied, still in a nice tone.
“I know.” she sighed as if she was disappointed in my answer even though it had been exactly the answer she was expecting.
“Vanessa, you know that’s not what I want to do. But I have a plan now, I have everything all figured out.”
“What Liam?” I could hear her growing slightly more angry now, “You’re going to become an actor, a singer, a comedian, what is it this time? How do you expect to live off of that, how do you expect me and you and a family to live off of that someday?”
“Shows how much you believed in me.” I said somewhat sarcastically and then immediately regretted it. Now she’s even more mad.
“Whatever Liam. I am done. I am done with your plans, I am done with your irrational idea that they’ll make you a living, and I am done with you.”
“We were so good Vanessa. The last two years have been the best two years of my life, with you by my side. I promise you I’m going to have a real career with this by the time you graduate college! It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Her look softened for a moment, and just for one split second before she spoke I thought I might have convinced her.
“I want to stay with you, but I can’t.”
I soaked up that look in her eyes, it was the same way she used to look at me when we were so in love that nothing else in the world mattered. This was going to be the last day I saw that loving look, and I didn’t care how sad it made me, how much it tore my heart apart. I wanted it for a moment longer.
“I’ll always love you Vanessa. I hope you know just how much you mean to me, how much I’ve loved every moment with you for these last two years.”
“I’ll always love you too Liam. Do you think you could walk me to my car?”
“Of course.” I answered as I tried to push back the tears filling up my eyes.
I left a couple dollars on the table for the coffee she had ordered and taken two sips out of, and then we both walked outside. She had her arm wrapped around mine, the same way a bride puts her arm around her father’s when she gets walked down the aisle. The simple thought of a wedding made the tears even harder to keep back. We reached her car and she opened the door. She grabbed something from inside and I realized it was one of my hoodies.
“I was going to give this back to you, but I wondered if it would be okay if I kept it- to remember you?”
“Of course you can.” I smiled, but the tears were beginning to stream down my face. I could tell she noticed because she began to cry too.
“Well I guess this is goodbye Vanessa.” I managed to choke out.
“I love you Liam.” she said softly and then we embraced in a hug.
I held her for a longtime- much longer than the average hug. I wanted to remember the way it felt to have my arms wrapped around her, holding the girl that was once mine.
We finally both broke loose and she leaned forward and placed her lips on mine. I could taste the salt from our tears, but I didn’t care. One last kiss to share with the girl who I always thought I’d share my whole life with.
“I love you too Vanessa, take care of yourself.” and with that we shared one more look filled with longing, love, and most of all- heartbreak. Then she got in her car, backed out and drove, literally, out of my life.
And I stood there and realized, for the first time in two weeks, I had felt something.
No more numbness.
Who would have thought that what I needed most was to see it all through, no matter how hard it seemed like it was going to be.
Who knows what the future holds? Who could know whether our paths will cross again?
So I stood there, and as I turned to walk back to my car I was left with one statement, one phrase that I knew would be the truth now.
I’m going to be okay.