It was the last time they would ever see each other. Oh, they had made allowances that maybe at some point, when there was distance and the hurt had subsided, one of them would pay a visit to the other. Old friends, right? But they both knew this was a gentle lie to get through the night. After this morning, they would truly be the strangers their feelings had made them.
He gripped the steering wheel almost lackadaisically as he navigated the relatively deserted early, early morning freeway. No traffic on the road meant more time to concentrate on the uncomfortable silence that filled the car. Next to him, she shifted in her seat and tried to think of something - anything - that might break the ice. But all her ideas sounded like bad ones to her, and she turned her gaze out the window to the array of lights that dotted the still-darkened city.
She had a flight for 6 AM. Going back home, back east. She was moving in with her parents, temporarily, until she could get herself back on her feet. Most of her stuff, such as it was, was already there. The only thing left to ship out was herself. She had already sold her car and was thinking of just hiring a taxi to get to the airport. He wouldn't hear of it. He insisted on driving her there.
Why? Was it a last, parting gesture of the relationship they had shared for over five years? Was it a selfless act of kindness for the friend he had known since 7th grade? Was it slow torture to punish himself over the fact that they had lost each other? Was it the hope that this act would give them closure once and for all? Or maybe it was a desperate, clinging hope that she would change her mind?
It was at once all and none of those things. Even he didn't know. He just wanted to make sure she had a ride.
The airport loomed, and it was a mixture of relief and regret that filled the two of them. He helped her unload her luggage from the car, and they double-checked to make sure she had everything. They exchanged awkward small talk like they were old buddies rather than lovers who had drifted apart. Promises were made that would never be kept, though intentions were good on both sides. And finally, they embraced and kissed. Only, this was not a kiss of passion, but one of dreams that had fallen by the wayside. Pecks on the cheek and the feel of each other's arms one last time.
She made her way into the terminal and he watched her until she was out of sight amid the crush of people. He couldn't even sigh as he stood there for a moment. He couldn't feel anything. He got into the car and drove away, leaving behind the woman he had once been convinced was going to be his wife.
What was he going to do?
TO BE CONTINUED
6 months ago