Perfect Strangers

The night we fell apart, we were sitting at my table. I was working on a project, scrambling to finish it for critique the next day, unbearably tired and my stomach in vicious, relentless knots. You, with your doe eyes and heavy heart, were staring at me, wordless. All that could be heard was the Xacto-blade in my hand and the faint sounds of A Fine Frenzy chiming solemnly in the background. I asked you what you wanted. I asked if you wanted me anymore, if you could decide to continue loving me, or if your love was gone, my eyes barely leaving the task at hand, afraid to catch your gaze and read your response. I grew impatient by your silence, but remained calm. Your eyes lowered to your fumbling fingers, a sigh being released deeply into the quiet of my living room. More silence.

“I don’t know what I want. I’m scared that if I make a decision, it won’t be the right one…If we break it off, I know I’ll realize it was a mistake and it’ll be too late.”

It was my turn to sigh. I could feel my face getting hot, a tension building in my chest making it feel impossible to breathe. The shortness of my breath was making me weak but my feelings grew forceful.

“If you have doubt….” I paused, my head churning with exhaustion and hurt, “It’s over. I can’t be the only one who cares about us…”

A ringing in my ears became excruciating as I met eyes with you across that table. That same table we had grown our love, that same table we had sat at, flirting and exchanging quick kisses. The table that I would beg you to leave as I was cooking us dinner, smirking at you from the kitchen to join me, hoping that I’d feel you wrap your arms around me with that same sweetness you had given me countless times before. This time was different, however. You looked at me with eyes that had nothing left to give. Hands to yourself, you didn’t fight the doubt that had replaced what once was such a promising, mutual, deep-rooted and long established love. You put up no fight. After several unsuppressed tears and the realization of our separation had established itself, you departed hastily. And then I cried. I’m not exactly sure why I held back my tears while you were present. I think I wanted to be strong for you, no matter what your decision ended up being. But I cried for hours. I couldn’t sleep. Not for days, several weeks. Every single thing in my entire life reminded me of you and I could feel the heaviness of my broken heart and pounding headache pushing down on me. I wondered how long I could handle feeling so broken.

But now, we pass each other as perfect strangers. As if we didn’t spend three and a half years of our lives laying in your bed laughing at stupid television shows, exchanging loving glances at each other with or without the company of others as if we were the only one that the other could see, holding hands under the dinner table when we were out with your family, you knocking on my dorm window, my heart pounding at the excitement of seeing you again. As if we didn’t make late night food runs, giggling in the grocery store over silly things, as if we didn’t run to hold the door open for each other as a little game of who could be the most “gentlemanly”. As if you weren’t the only person I could see in a crowded room and the only eyes I’d want to meet, the only hand I wanted to hold, and the only heart I ever wanted to have. We pass each other like we were nothing more than co-humans living on this earth, close in proximity but barely aware of each other’s existence. As much as I don’t want you to be a stranger, I guess this is just how it has to be. Three years of love reduced to mere acquaintanceship.

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