A breeze blew through my hair as I squeezed my eyes shut. I could smell the fresh-cut grass around us as I wrapped my arms around his neck and he encircled my waist with his. I held on tighter than I probably should have, but judging by the way he held onto me I’m guessing he didn’t mind all that much. This is where it all starts, the endless waiting game. How long will he be gone? A day? A week? A month? A year? Does it even matter?
I was brought out of my thoughts when I felt his grip loosen. I let go of him completely and took a step back. I felt a slightly cooler breeze blow by as he sighed. He reached out with his left hand. When I felt the callused pads of his fingers dance across the skin of my right cheek, water pooled in my eyes. I squeezed them shut to prevent the tears from falling.
No, I wasn’t going to do this. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. Just let him go. Don’t say anything. Just breathe.
His deep voice pulled me from my thoughts. “I’ll be back.”
I nodded. I already knew that. I’m not sure if by verbalizing it he was trying to convince himself or me. “I know.”
He noded. I watched as he shuffled his feet, blew in his hands and glanced down. He was obviously gathering his thoughts so I took that time to look round. The sky looked beautiful. There had to be thousands of glistening stars above us. I could see a small playground in the distance, but tonight the swings are the last thing on my mind.
He cleared his throat and my eyes found his again. I could see a small twinkle in them as his lips turned up in an affectionate smile.“Penny for your thoughts?”
I shrugged. He didn’t want to hear my thoughts. He wanted me to say something witty, something to break the tension. I was empty though. I had nothing. I saw his face fall out of the corner of my eye. I wasn’t going to play his game, and he knew it. I looked everywhere but at him and I could feel the frustration coming off him in waves.
“Would you look at me?” His voice was rough and I winced. He was mad…great. I turned my head and looked him dead in the eye. It was his turn to wince at the emotion he saw there. He clasped my hands in his and his voice came out edged with a pleading tone. “I don’t want to go.”
“I know you don’t."
“So why are you acting like this is my fault?” He was right you know. I had known all along he’d be leaving. He told me. After all we were friends first. So why did I let myself get so attached? Ah that’s right, because for once I thought I’d be enough to keep him here. I thought when it all boiled down to it I’d be as important to him as he is to me. Obviously I was wrong.
I sighed and put my mask in place as I relaxed my body. I squeezed his hand lightly and smiled. “You’re right. I’m sorry. You go. Do what you need to do. I’m fine.”
I watched the tension ebb out of his face as he relaxed slightly. “Yeah?”
“Yup. No big. You know me. I can be retarded sometimes, but like you said you’ll be back.”
His smile grew larger as he nodded his head. “Before you know it. It’s just…I have to help my family with this. They need me. More than you do right now. You always were good at taking care of yourself.”
I held my smile in place and nodded. His hand touched my face again and I had to bite the inside of my lip to keep from breaking down. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” He leaned in and as soon as his lips touched mine I fell into the kiss. I put everything I was feeling into that one single moment. When we broke apart he leaned his head against mine and I could see conflict pass over his features. I wanted to say something, anything, but I couldn't. He pulled away all too soon, gave me one last grin and walked away. With every step he took I felt my heart break a little more.
By the time he disappeared into the night I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I glanced into the sky and finally let the tears fall. I don’t know why I’m surprised. People always leave…but sometimes…sometimes if you believe hard enough they just might come back.