It’s Valentine’s today. I am standing outside his coffee shop thinking if I’ll bury myself in the morning rush of the coffee buyers with their cupholders and flowers and phones glued to their ears or if I’ll walk straight to work and avoid him. It’s been awhile since we’ve had the chance to talk.
I came to work and started writing an e-mail for him. I’m not exactly sure of what I wanted to say but I need to write them down for me to fully understand the wiring in my brain.
He texted me a few nights back asking if I was planning anything on Valentine’s, I said I’ll be working through it. It’s been very awkward between the two of us especially when we were out with friends and we kind of avoid each other.
A white rose fell on my lap while I was staring at my computer’s monitor. I just looked at it and thought of his face. I was wondering why I didn’t give him the manuscript earlier in the coffee shop. I was hesitant to do so because we were meeting anyway after work to eat dinner which we usually do on Fridays.
“I’m not sure if I can do this. I’m so scared I might break. I promised to give him the manuscript once I finished writing the whole story but I think I’ve gone too far with making it real.” I thought to myself while we were waiting for our table in the bustling restaurant. He was beside me, pushing buttons on his smartphone busying himself with work since we weren’t talking. I tried taking my brain out of my ass and say something coherent but my mind stayed there and on the manuscript burning a hole in my bag.
“You’re table’s ready.” The waitress told us and escorted us to a booth near a couple who was clearly having a small fight. I laughed a little to myself and you looked at me and I moved my head to the side pointing to the couple, you chuckled and helped me to my seat. I hope you don’t hate me when you read it.
“So, how’s the writing going?” You asked smiling and your laugh lines showed. You werelooking more mature by the hour.
“Oh, it’s going.” I fumbled inside my bag and thumbed through the pages. I wasn’t sure if I need to take it out right then and there or wait for later.
We ordered our food and we joked about us and our miserable love lives and how you confessed to me 10 years ago that same day.
“Oh my god! I completely forgot about that!” I laughed and found myself wanting to smack myself in the head when I remembered the singing telegram you sent me in college then confessing your feelings for me. I didn’t know what to do at that time so I laughed at you while you were raising your eyebrows clearly confused as to why I was laughing.
“You should’ve seen your face when I stepped out behind that pink fluffy stuffed toy that I was holding. I thought you were going to throw your shoe bag at me!” You remebered it correctly. I was holding on to my stuff tightly not wanting to show any reaction to what was happening.
“That wasn’t fair of you though. I never thought that in a million years you were going to do that to me.” I said and smiled. You need to read the manuscript which I eyed longingly inside my bag.
“It was a surprise and your best friend connived with me to make everything the way that I wanted it to be.” You said proudly, with your eyes squinting when you smiled at me and then took a bite of your dessert.
“You were lucky I didn’t punch because of that joke.” I told you smugly.
“It wasn’t a joke and you know it, Candice.” You said taking a drink of wine. I took mine and took a long swig of it thinking, “Oh, I know, Matt, believe me I know and it’s all written in that damned manuscript.” I put the wine glass down and wiped my mouth with the napkin. I smiled.
“I’m done with it.” I took the manuscript out and smoothed the cover with my hand and handed it to you.
“I know that you’ve been wanting to publish some of your stuff a long time ago but I didn’t realize that you needed me nagging on you for 5 years to finally give me a manuscript.” You held the book in your hand and leafed through the pages with your eyes quickly looking over the words.
“It took awhile to finish the story.” I told you quitely, smoothing the back of my hair.
“What’s it about?” You asked.
“Us.” I thought but instead I said, “Two people looking for something they thought they didn’t want.”
“Hmmm…” you hummed while reading the first few lines of the story.
“It was the day you gave me hope but it was also the day you broke my heart.”
“Nice dedication, Cands. Where’d you get it?” You asked looking strangely at me with your right eyebrow raised, like you’re challenging me to tell you the story behind the dedication.
“It came here.” I tapped my head twice. “And here.” I put my hand over my chest and smiled blissfully remembering the reason why I started to write that book.
“Good.” You said flipping to the last page to find out how it ends but I reached out my hand and slapped it away from the page.
“Ow” you yelped and pulled back with shock registering on your face.
“You have to read through the whole story and no cheating!” I pointed at you.
We left the restaurant and you took me home. We were silent on the way back to my apartment and you asked if you should walk me up the door but I declined and hugged you and greeted you a happy valentine’s day and stepped out of the car and into the building.
I was sitting on my couch in my pajamas and hair in a messy bun watching A Walk To Remember when my phone buzzed, I looked at it and you were calling.
“What? You’re interrupting Jaime and Landon!” I snipped at you.
“Who?” You asked.
“Shane West amd Mandy Moore from A Walk To Remember, stupid.”
“Oh.” You said, finally getting why I was starting to get irritated.
“It’s about us.” you said deadpanned.
“What about us, Matthew?” I asked dumbly.
“The book. It’s about us.”
“Don’t worry. I didn’t skip to the ending I was only starting when I realized how much of a wuss I was ten years ago, trying to impress you and trying to be better for you but I realized I failed.” He paused and I held the phone tightly to my ears trying to stop the tears from coming down on my cheeks.
When I didn’t say anything, you continued, “I didn’t know how to treat you. I’ve known you from a far but we just started to get close that year and I was scared. I knew you were never sure of your feelings for me but I should’ve tried harder. Everyone was rooting for us the way we never did. We both thought it was a long shot, a relationship between two different minds and completely different personalities. But, I loved you.” A tear fell down my cheek while on the television screen Landon kissed Jaime for the first time. “And I still do.” You said.
You hanged up and I shut off the television and stared at the television screen with tears streaming down my face, when the doorbell rang and I jumped and cursed loudly. I quickly wiped my face with the back of my hand and jumped up and went to the intercom.
“Who’s there?” I sniffled a sob.
“It’s me. Buzz me in, it’s pouring like hell.” You chuckled.
“Shit.” I thought.
“Go away, Matthew. I can’t talk to you right now.” A sob escaped from my lips.
“Don’t cry, Candice. I need to talk to you now. Please, let me in.” I heard the strain in your voice and the noise of the rain in the background.
“Not now, Matthew.” I released the talk button and colapsed on the floor crying.
“I am not leaving your doorstep even if I get pnuemonia!” You screamed into the intercom. I was trying to hold myself and not let you in anymore because my heart won’t be able to take the pain the second time.
For a while it got quiet and when I knew that you were gone I went to the window and looked down at the pavement and saw that you weren’t there, I wiped my tears with my sweater and my hands.
I jumped at the sound of the knock on my door. I was scared because I knew you left and there was nobody else downstairs. I opened the door and saw you drenched from the rain.
“I love you.” You said. “Always have and always will.”
“I hate you.” I said and closed my eyes as tears escaped my lids down on my cheeks.
I felt you step towards me and envelope me in an embrace. “I know you do.”
“I really, really, really, fucking hate you, Matthew.” I said while holding on tightly to your wet jacket.
“I know you do.” You laughed and loosened the embrace and looked me straight into the eyes and said, “I know you really do.” And then you kissed me lightly on the lips.
“I love you, Candice. For the last ten years. I always have and always will love you, even if you say you hate me.” You whispered and hugged me tightly, never wanting to let me go and I never wanting to let you go ever again.