All it took was a look. After all this time, it was a look. A look which told her what she’d known all along; that he was there, that he would come back. She ran at him, no longer caring that her jeans were filthy, that her t-shirt was ripped and that her toes were protruding from the ugly holes in her socks. He swept her up in a kiss, tender and powerful, reminiscent of the one haunting her dreams for months. He whispered that she was beautiful and told her he loved her; that he always had. To her shock, she found she was crying. Whether with relief or ecstasy, the tears fell easily. She blinked, clouding her vision as the dream faded away.
Standing by the window, she surveyed the scene below her. It was all the same. She watched him flirt and laughed as he played the fool, feeling as protective as a lioness over her cubs. He threw an arm around his girlfriend and led her away from the gathering crowd. They walked easily together, arms brushing gently as they talked animatedly. She felt the tingles of electricity snap through them, sharp as a paper cut. He looked happy. She watched him go.
She turned away, back towards the four walls enclosing her in the classroom. Chemistry equations flooded her vision as the expected tears fell once more. Irony struck her as she realised where she was. She cursed her indecision, her insecurities. She had let him go. Again. He would return; she was sure. He always did. They would creep a little closer towards the intimacy she craved before the panic struck like a thunderstorm to a picnic. And then they would retreat, each to separate camps, as they reassessed their positions, each debating their own odds, the competition never truly over. They were electric, releasing hot sparks, sharp crackles whenever they allowed. A fusion of truth and lies. Neither backing down, neither admitting their true feelings. In a battle of wills, vulnerability was absolute failure. She trusted him enough, knew him well enough to understand he was not ready, that she couldn’t lean on him just yet. She knew herself well enough to realise that she herself was not ready yet, not able to let go and fall into the murkiness of the unknown.
And yet he was gone. And she missed him. Desperately. She missed his quirky smile, his quick-witted remarks which in turn ignited humour in her. She missed the person she was when she was with him, the complete faith he restored in her. This frustrated her. She was not allowed to depend on someone that much, to be that vulnerable, that needy. She felt unattractive, pathetic. The tears fell faster, splattering ungainly onto the plastic work surface, already scarred by unruly pen nibs and angry felt tips. She pressed her fingertips gently into the scratched wooden stool beneath her, following the deep grooves as gracefully as a dancer learning new steps from a trained master.
She was better than this, stronger. She knew that. There had been no argument. There never was. They dealt in cold silences, broken only by sharp stabs of heat, forbidden laughter and short, stolen glances. They were a play, a pair of dancers at ease in each other’s embrace, a pair of cheetahs circling their prey, waiting to strike.
She fell asleep warm and safe in his arms with the complete confidence that he would still be with her when she treaded the footsteps of reality once more.
She shook herself gently as the warm, fuzzy memories fell away, just out of grasp. She took one last glance out of the window. His girlfriend leaned in, their lips just a breath apart. Her heart jumped involuntarily, the fear tearing through her; what if he never came back? Refusing to follow such a negative train of thought, she banished the evil from her mind.
She stepped away from the window and drifted back into her delusions, away from the disappointments of the world beyond the glass. Taking a deep breath, she stood back and straightened her shoulders in an obvious gesture to instil confidence. She evaporated beyond the door to meet her fate, just another deluded dreamer.