It was purely by chance.
It’s how all these stories start, don’t they? By chance?
I’d like to say that I had always known. That I’d always seen the hollow space inside him and knew I didn’t fit in there or come anywhere even close to it. I want to say I saw this coming and was prepared.
I didn’t. And I wasn’t.
Every time he looked over or held my hand, I believed it. All of it in all its sappy, sickening glory; the flowers, the candles, the late night pizza, the seemingly random declarations of affection; the fears and the doubts and the vulnerabilities. I was fiercely in love and believed him to be the same.
It’s funny, isn’t it? How I always claim to be so over the big dramatic speeches and sentimental inner monologues? It’s funny—
It was by chance. An old photograph fell out—like old photographs are wont to do—out of his jacket…or wallet? The finer points of that evening escape me.
I picked it up. And in the laugh lines I saw who he used to be. In the soft hair falling gently past her shoulders I saw the things he thought he would be and the unfailing optimism he held at twenty one. In the curve of her jaw I saw what he never thought he’d lose. I know what you’re thinking, it was a photograph of a girl, he was nowhere in the picture. But I know him.
I felt like I was intruding somehow; snooping into the life of this strange girl whose private moment lay forever captured in ink, the evidence of her radiant laugh cherished and loved and safe guarded…in my house.
And yet I was the intruder because that girl in that moment had revealed far too much of herself and it wasn’t meant to be etched into eternity in the form of glossy paper. I was trespassing and I quickly put it down on the bed, blank side facing up.
I looked up at him then. He looked sorry, he truly did. He took a step forward, his mouth opening ever so slightly, knowing he had to say something but clueless as to exactly what–and there, right there, the tiniest hint of relief.
And with that he fell to the floor, dead.
Or he would have, if it was possible for someone to die instantaneously of the force by which all my hatred poured out–silent and confused–but raging. Hatred made all the more destructive despite its quiet nature, pure hatred born of love.
I was fiercely in love and believed him to be the same. With me.
It’s funny, I’m laughing, do you see?