“I need to know. I want to spend my life with you. I thought I could wait as long as it took and you’d come around. I thought I’d get back tonight and you’d be so happy to see me, you’d run down the stairs when you heard my voice…” He shakes his head. “It’s not happening, is it? You’re never going to…”
My eyes fill. All the aggravation I’ve had with him over the past week is gone.
“I wish I could love you like I should, Michael. You deserve so much more than what I’ve given you,” I finally admit.
“What am I missing here?”
“Nothing. You are … exceptional. Truly. I just don’t feel it. I care about you so much.”
“There has never been any doubt in my mind about my love for you.”
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper.
“I don’t want you to be sorry!” He says loudly, causing me to jump. “Don’t look at me like that, Sparrow,” his voice is quiet again. “I know you’re not trying to hurt me … but don’t feel sorry for me.”
“I don’t pity you … I am sorry, though.” A tear falls off the tip of my nose and tickles. I wipe my face and lay my head on his shoulder.
He stands abruptly and runs his fingers through his hair. “I’ve gotta get out of here.”
“Please—don’t go like this. I have to know you’re okay. Michael, look at me.”
He walks out of the room and out of my life.
The next few weeks are filled with all the hustle and bustle of leaving. I split my time between family and friends, going to favorite restaurants and beaches that I will miss when I’m far from home. Michael doesn’t call or come by, but I do see him at church … from a distance. I try to catch his eye and smile, but he seems to have an eye meter that tells him the exact distance to look just close enough, but never really land on me. It’s unsettling. I’m used to him always finding my eye across the room and sharing a smile over something that strikes us funny. I am going to miss him more than I can even comprehend.
I’m trying to catch a minute with Michael the day before I leave. Various giggling girls surround him. Word traveled quickly that we’d broken up. I’m sure the new girlfriend position will be filled in no time. An elderly lady walks up and gives me a goodbye hug.
“I will be praying for your journey,” she says.
“Thank you so much, Beverly,” I smile.
“Be blessed out there. And hurry home to Michael. God has big plans for the two of you.”
I bite my lip and resist telling her we’ve broken up before I walk away. I know I can’t compete with what she thinks God has in store for us.
I see an opening with Michael and move toward him. He sees me coming and for a moment, I think he’s going to bolt, but he doesn’t. He smiles faintly and I want to kick myself for breaking his heart. Just before I reach him, Josie Sanders glides in front of him. He looks over her shoulder at me and I stop. Josie doesn’t miss a beat. I wait a few minutes longer and then give him a shy wave before leaving. He smiles and waves back and my heart lifts just a little. I think we might be all right. In time.
New York is exactly what I hoped it would be. It’s hectic and energetic. Fun things to do are available at all hours of the day or night—not that Tessa and I have fully taken advantage of that yet, but still—we absolutely love it.
We’ve finally gotten settled into our apartment. It’s small, but cozy, and we’ve put our hearts into making it as cute as possible. I’m crazy about my room: a pink tufted headboard that Tessa and I made, with white, pink and red linens. There are Tiffany blue touches added throughout the room. Tessa’s room is the complete opposite: bold with a black tufted headboard and colorful fabrics swathed from ceiling to the floor around her bed.
Our cozy living room just fits a couch, bookshelf and TV. The red leather couch was our first big purchase. We’re going to have a serious arm wrestling contest when we move out to see who inherits it. Our kitchen is the smallest kitchen I’ve ever seen. It’s nearly impossible for us to be in there at the same time. I may or may not occasionally crawl on the counter to get past Tessa when she’s not moving as quickly as I’d like. Okay, I totally do, but I’m going to have to stop. I’ve hit my head one too many times on the cabinet above the counter.
I love that we’re living on our own, completely across the country from everything familiar, except each other. It’s a bit surreal to have moments of feeling like actual adults. The fact that we keep telling each other we’re grown-ups might mean we’re not quite there, but it sure is feeling that way more and more. This time would be perfect if it weren’t for all the drama before I left.
I really miss Michael—his friendship most of all. I guess maybe we should have only ever been friends. I know this now, but that’s the kind of thing you can only know after it’s too late. School has been the best distraction. I’m knee-deep in homework at all times. It would have been difficult to have a solid relationship with him when I’m so focused on my studies.
Well, that’s not entirely true. It would be hard to have room for him in my brain when the space is so filled with Ian. Since Ian looked through me and took off on his motorcycle, he has preoccupied almost every single waking and sleeping moment. I’m actually really disappointed with myself and profoundly guilty, too, when I think of how I’ve hurt Michael.
Still, I can’t get Ian out of my mind.
I’ve played and replayed every single part of that day and cannot figure out what happened. Why did he go so cold on me? How could we seemingly have such an intense spark and then … nothing? I have not heard a single word from him.
It hit me in mid-replay one night—I don’t think mention was ever made about me coming to New York. My insides clench and churn with this realization. I can’t see how that wouldn’t have come up, except that when I was in the thick of my rosy haze around him, I didn’t think of anything or anyone except him and that very moment we were living in.
It’s for the best. Things ended on such a weird note anyway. It’s not like he’s been calling my parents’ house night and day looking for me or anything. What I thought was special was probably just what he does with every girl he goes out with. I saw how every female … and male, for that matter, checks him out. He has probably not given me a second thought.