THE ORANGE SWEATER
Did I dream it?
I sat across him as I watched him speak. Outside it was raining, slow and steady as the evening grew late and the sky turned cast and grey. He told me about his life and his latest adventures. He looked exactly as how I remembered he looked, which side his hair parted and which side his body leaned on. He seemed in good spirits. I was happy to see him happy. It is always nice to see someone you care about happy. But at the same time, there was this pang I felt to see that he was happy without me. He was doing just fine without me. Did it make me jealous? Maybe. Did it make me sad? Absolutely.
As I returned his orange sweater I had been keeping in my possession there was a sudden realisation that I was never going to see it again. The painting project we bought was packed and ready to go to him, the last little piece of memory of something we did together. It had been sitting in my own living room for three months, and when I tried to pick up where we left off I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. It only reminded me of his face when he was painting on that canvas. I always liked how kind his face looked.
As we talked I began to think about how strange all this was. There we were, two people, once close enough to know what was funny and what wasn’t, what was important and what wasn’t, and what was real and wasn’t. We talked as though neither of us was ever hurt by the other, trying to keep a façade that we were doing absolutely alright. At least that was what it was like for me. I had missed him. I wondered if he missed me. If he did, he certainly hid it well. And then he left, back outside into the dark, rainy weather, the sweater and painting in tow. Gone.
It felt to me like I had been staring at a long, empty road, somehow hoping, against the smallest of odds, that somehow he would emerge again at the other side of that road. I would see his shadow looming as he would appear yet again, telling me everything would be alright now. No matter how much I told myself to stop looking at the edge of that road, to stop staring, I found myself looking and staring anyway. Two weeks later, by the strangest chance of strings of coincidence (although we all know by now that there is no such thing), I came across a picture. I saw the new girl. I saw him. I saw them. They looked happy. And I don’t know what or how, but something inside broke. And that broken something...goodness. If there ever is an adequate enough word to describe the hurt.
There it was.
I wish I write better stories. I wish I write stories about a boy who met a girl and the boy would hang his things and stay. But I don’t know those kinds of stories. The ones I have are about a girl who was staring at that long, empty road, but it was time for her to pick up her things and walk home alone now. That boy who one day showed up with lavender tea, his Sunday sneezes, with his adventure stories about sleeping under the stars in Greece and dreams of trekking the world – he is never coming back. He is gone. The girl will have to do with no closure for this chapter, a cliff hanger, a lost ending.
Did she dream it?