Seven years. It has been seven years since that day.
And now here they were in the alfresco of that overrated café, with the man sitting across the lady: he was sipping his black coffee and she, her jasmine tea. The scenario almost seemed impossible in the past, but for someone with her tenacious personality, something ‘impossible’ just meant ‘a little later’ than ‘never at all.’ This moment played by fate was comparable to the persistent rainstorm that forced them to stay together a little longer in the coffee shop than planned.
“I’ve been thinking,” he sighed into his coffee mug, “About leaving this place and heading to the States. Study more on film and acting from the professionals themselves. Get into showbiz of the global standard. Be a real director. What do you think?”
She straightened her posture and settled her cup down on the table, nodding in acquiescence at his idea of endeavors that appeared promising for his future.
“Well… Why not? I say go for it. I support you in that decision.”
He diverted his eyes to hers, trying to read the gaze behind those wide eyes. Though wide and nonchalant they may seem to be, only a few can notice and genuinely understand what swims in those dark depths. Their staring game ended as her voice surfaced once again through the sound of rainfall.
“I support you. If you’re ever wondering why, it’s because I had to make a decision just like that—seven years ago.”
This time it was his eyes that widened, and he placed his mug alongside hers.
“What kind of decision was it? You definitely weren’t aiming to be an actor like me, considering you’re a licensed interior designer, not to mention writer, right now,” he chuckled, leaning back onto his chair.
A soft smile of nostalgia emerged on her lips as she remembered what she wrote on the night of the sixteenth, a day before the significant seventeenth.
April 16, 2017; 11:15 P.M. — I’m satisfied of this unrequited love. I’m happy this is all one-sided. I’m glad everything is ending before it can even truly begin. It would be easier for me to leave him who doesn’t even have the slightest knowledge of my existence, who doesn’t even know my sentiments, who doesn’t even miss me, yet alone think of me. It’s all good; perfect, even. A broken heart is better than two. At least there will be some times when I might let him and his strong hands put my weak heart back together and restore it to me. I’d rather have that than us both losing and scattering the pieces of our mutually shattered hearts. He must never be broken; I need to protect him from being so—I will take myself away from him. I’ve never been any happier to be in a love that’s unknown and unreturned. He will be happy, and I will be too. In the end, his happiness will always be mine.
“I had to leave the places and people I love, to be where I am and who I am today,” she exhaled. “It was tough, but thinking of those moments and people I held onto and appreciated… all of that kept me going.”
“Was it a happy one? I mean, did you find the happiness or ending you were looking for?”
“If I were to be dead honest, yes. More than happy, actually. I’m not just relieved, or satisfied; I’m overwhelmingly grateful. I earned the careers and lifestyle I aimed for. I managed to travel all over the world and see the places and people I’ve wanted to see. My soul roams free, finding home in the many corners of this earth. I’ve finally come home, and this time I know I’m not alone.”
The man was a grown man in a smart-casual attire, but he sure maintained the curious eyes of the child that he furtively kept in himself. Being under his scrutinizing eyes, she reminisced of the same intensity he gave back when they were still twenty-one and on the verge of growing up.
“But what about ‘him’ whom you left behind? Did you come to know him this time, maybe love him too, again?”
She picked up her teacup, providing a little wall between them both, and swallowed the remaining aromatic drops along with the thoughts she wanted to tell him ever since then.
I came to know him—you—but I don’t love him ‘again’. The feelings, which I harbored for you for all these years, never left me even when I left you back then. I know I was told to reach for the moon that I may land among the stars even if I failed to reach it. But I realized I had to reach beyond the moon—the sun, the Milky Way, the entire universe—because I wanted and needed to be worthy of my existence. I wanted and needed to prove myself to myself, to you and to everyone else.
“I did. And I’m happy with how we are right now, even if it seems like we’re back to zero this time round. Though I’m not sure how my feelings are for him now, if I seek him as a friend or as a potential love interest.”
He seemed doubtful of her response hence did he hesitantly express his last thoughts: “So you’re happy now because you left him previously. But what if he’s the one who leaves this time? Would you still be happy?”
The clouds were emptying now as the pouring rain concluded to a light shower; likewise the people they were surrounded with under the alfresco umbrellas. She knew that she was prepared to answer this question. For the past years, concerned individuals would ask her the very same thing, and for this was she thankful. She herself would recite the words to her reflection every day, much like a prayerful mantra.
He caught a faint twinkle in her eye, a proof of which her answer would be echoing with conviction and it made him realize that those particular words to be said would be one of those things that would remind him of her.
“It won’t matter if he learns how I feel then or now, and yet doesn’t feel the same way. If leaving me would direct him to his happiness, then so be it. Perhaps we aren’t meant to love each other in this lifetime, any other lifetime, or even in parallel worlds, but I still am and would be happy about it. What’s greater than this feeling of being able to love someone so much? Like I said: in the end, his happiness will always be mine.”
There's an angel called wjh I've let into my life, and I have to let him go now.