by Hailie Andersen
He did not believe in love at first sight. That was before he met her.
He was sitting at his desk. His face buried in his hands. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. He had been trying to hide his sad state of mind from his coworkers. Trying too hard to keep those feelings bottled in. How could everything have gone so wrong? He was playing and replaying the day in that thick head of his, but none of it made sense.
All he wanted to do was help her, protect her. All he ended up doing was to tear her heart apart. He looked back at this whole mess, trying to pinpoint when it all went out of hand. Then it all came rushing back to him. Not the dark times, but the great ones.
He remembered how he felt the day he first laid eyes on her. He fell for her on the spot. Her shiny black curls cascading on her shoulders, she was wearing an empire white dress with large strokes of forest green paint printed on it. They formed abstract patterns reminiscent of spring and flowers.
She was beaming, positively radiant, yet she looked out of place. As if she did not belong in this office. She harbored a giant smile, yet she kept stroking her right arm with her left palm, while casting glances around. Shifting from one foot to the other, looking away when he met her gaze, and biting her lip.
She was the cutest thing, he had ever seen. Right there and then, he knew he wanted her to be his. He did not dare talk to her that day though. He was content with just exchanging glances and awkward smiles – flirting from afar. That was his idea of romance. Patiently waiting until the moment was just right. If he felt that way, there was no doubt in his mind that she was feeling the same.
Two weeks ago, he noticed she did not look his way anymore. He would smile at her, but she would not respond. He even dared a wave and then again – nothing back. With each unanswered move, he could feel a ball build up larger and larger in his throat, and a sharp pain stab at his heart.
He recognized it as anger. Caused by frustration. He had felt it as a kid once, when his parents had not delivered on the pony he had asked for, for his 6th birthday. That is the last memory he had of them. He was separated from them after that. His new mother told him they got really sick and went to Heaven. He never saw them again.
Yesterday morning, she had started smiling again – but not to him. She was directing all of her charms at this tall blonde man sitting in the booth next to his. He had not seen him coming. Of course he had noticed him talking to her, and bringing her coffee in the morning. Still, he had been confident there was no way she would fall for that superficial courting.
She was not like that. She was not like him. She was like him. He had seen it in her eyes on that first day. She had fallen for him, just as readily as he had for her. There was no doubt about it.
After much consideration, he had decided to follow her after work that evening. He was hoping to reconnect with her. He thought that outside the office was the better option. He did not want him to interfere with his shiny hair, his hollow eyes and his annoyingly wide smile.
There was no way he would get away with her. Anyone but her. She was better than that. She was better than him.
She was his.
When he arrived at her house, he saw him hug her on her porch.
He felt a hot burning sensation rise from his core, take a hold of him and fire up his cheeks, overpowering his mind and causing his limbs to tremble and twitch, making him feel weak.
He recognized this feeling all too well. He was seven, when it first overcame him. One fine morning, as he was playing in his living room with his fluffy cat Caramel, he heard the bell ring. His pet elegantly walked away from him, and purred his way to his neighbor, Graham. The small redheaded boy had just showed up at the door, and already, Caramel had jumped into his arms, adjusting his position until it had reached a satisfactory lay. While the cat’s owner did not care about who had crossed the threshold, he did care that Caramel had favored the arrival of the newcomer over his company. Painstakingly.
He ran to them both in a fit of rage and grabbed his property. He held him as tight as he could, with all his might. The animal whimpered and dug his clawed paws into the little boys flesh, but the latter would not flinch until he had strangled Caramel to death.
He watched, as the blonde man walked down the flight of stairs on the porch. She watched him walk away, as she turned her key in the lock of her front door. She looked positively elated. That only inflated his pain.
She entered and closed the front door behind her, but she left it unlocked, as she always did. He came in after her. He did not bother to ring or announce his presence. He simply walked up to her, as if he belonged there, because in his heart that is how he felt. His rightful place was by her side.
She shuddered and winced at his sight. He noticed that. It threw him off. He did not expect that. Words would not flow out of his mouth, as he had pictured they would. Instead there was this indescribably heavy silence building up between them. She was standing there, dumbfounded by his presence. He was observing her, powerless, unable to express his feelings. His pain. His disappointment. All the love he felt for her.
He had a stroke of genius – or so he thought. He remembered those romances he had watched on TV with his new mother. The man would kiss the woman and then she would know, she was in love with that man, instantly, or later on, but that was always the first step to a love story. He knew that was what she wanted. Every woman wants that.
He walked up to her. She ran next door to the kitchen. He saw her grab a knife and hide it behind her back, swiftly, but not swiftly enough. He felt betrayed. Again. Why? Why would she do that? He only wanted to love her. To protect her from his grasp. This blonde giant could not be worthy of her. He was. Could not she see that? He found his voice again and expressed his disappointment to her.
She looked terrified. She screamed and brandished the knife to his face. He went for it and tried to grab it in what he thought would be just one easy move. It was not. She moved away and sliced him on the back. The pain was vivid. The fact that she could do that to him stabbed him at the core. Why would she do that? It felt like she had just ripped his heart from his chest.
He came at her like a wounded animal, he was not afraid of anything anymore. He had nothing to loose now that he had lost all hope to secure her love for him.
Back at his desk he reflected on the dark moments of their relationship. All he wanted to do was to help her, to protect her. All he ended up doing was to tear her heart apart, and he did so quite literally, when she refused to leave her boyfriend for him. He stabbed her what felt like a thousand strikes. He hurt her, as much as she had hurt him.
Still he did not feel satisfied. One would think that with her death, his thirst for her would be quenched. But it was not. It was quite the opposite. Now that she was gone, there was this empty void in his heart. An empty void he could never fill. She was gone. He would never breathe in her scent again – the soft lemony breeze left in the wake of wavy mane. He remembered how it felt to run his fingers through her hair.
A hot tear ran down his face, thick and warm as her blood on his hands. It felt like his whole world had collapsed in an instant and left this burning hunger inside of him.
That is when a new-she walked in. He straightened up in his seat and dabbed his handkerchief at his eyes and cheeks.
He smiled at her. And new-she smiled back.