James had to decide what’s most important to him. Will he go after the one woman that he loves? Or will his ego get the better of him?
“He’s working in the same place as me over there,” she said. Her voice softened at the mention of him. She looked down to her hands when she spoke, as if holding a deep thought of him. I had thought it had gone, but there it was, the same soft tone of voice when she spoke of him. Never gone.
He worked in the same place as her. He saw her every waking day in the South while here I was, miles away, clinging to only the key to her house. “It was a surprise,” she added. We stood silent for what seemed like an eternity, before she finally called my name, “James..”.
James! She called me by my real name! There she was, addressing him by his pet name ( “I met Jake.. in the South”) while calling me by my real name!
“James, I— ” she started. But for whatever reasons, she stopped and looked down to her hands again, playing with her fingers. When she was done, she looked at me briefly before looking away. She was frowning. Her expression was difficult to read. She was about to do or say something that was so difficult to her. Suddenly my heart was racing. Something is coming, I thought. Something big.
“You know how things sometimes don’t go the way you want it..?” she said carefully. “Maybe this is one of those times,” she added. Her head was tilted slightly when she said this. The frown was still there. She had also bitten her lower lip, so hard it seemed it might as well bleed. I knew there was more.
“I never thought there will be time where I would have to— have to choose,” she said. That was it.
“You’re breaking up with me,” I said, first with fear, and then panic. She did not reply. She kept quite for what seemed longer than eternity now. I waited. “I’m sorry,” she said finally. Upon hearing so, my heart stopped racing. It might as well stop beating. The apology made it clear. Sad as it was, it gave an end to everything. There was nothing else to say. It was clear as day. She chose him over me. I had thought she would be mine forever. I had thought it was all so simple.
I sent her home and went back to the park. She did not ask for her key back. At the park, I found a place, away from the main road, away from the jogging lane, away from the benches, so deserted, so secret, and I lay down on the ground, against the grasses, so lonely, looking up to the night sky, thinking of what she said, what I said, what I could have said, could have done, and I fell asleep.
When I woke up, I was greeted by a headache, and it was already well past two in the morning. There was no missed calls on my phone. Nicole didn’t bother to call. She was probably fast asleep, I thought bitterly. There was still no calls from her the next day. I had picked up a habit of checking my phone every two minutes, hoping, somehow, for Nicole to call. Probably she would laugh and tell me it was all a joke. An April fools joke maybe. (“Guess what, it’s April fools, I got you, Jimmy!”). She could throw her head back and laugh hysterically, I would forgive her. I would pull a face, pretend to be annoyed, but I would forgive her.
Except that it was not April. And this was not a joke. And when the day was almost over and the sun was setting, I finally understood that she would not call, never again. So I picked up my phone, debating, if I should call her instead. I thought of what to say, as my last, final, saddest goodbye. But as I sat in my bed staring at my phone, it rang. Nicole’s name was on the screen. My heart was beating fast, as if it was the first time I had ever had to pick up a call from her. It was like when we started dating.
“Hello,” I said on the phone.
“Jimmy,” I heard her voice at the other end of the line, gentle and weak.
“Hey,” I said, suddenly became soft at the sound of her voice. Suddenly feeling that I couldn’t quite let her go just yet.
“I’m heading back to the South this evening,” she said. “Just thought I let you know,” she added. She quickly added that I shouldn’t come see her in the airport. Said she’d be alright. “Don’t worry about me. You just take care of yourself,” she said. Her voice sounded heavy. And suddenly it ended, and I was back to staring at my phone. Somehow it felt like she was still mine, except that she didn’t say ‘I love you’ at the end of the call. I had almost said it if she didn’t say ‘goodbye’; reminding me that it was a goodbye different than all before it.
And so I was haunted by the thoughts of her for the following day, at work, at home, in the shower, in my sleep. Events after events were playing in my mind over and over again like a movie. Everything about Nicole suddenly felt so precious to me; her plain smiles, her apologetic look, her sighs (“Oh, Jimmy..”).
I had continued the habit of checking my phone every five minutes, even at work, fearing that she called and I might have missed it. At night, I had gotten used to staring at my phone, fighting back the urge to call her. I had a little plan. I would not call her, I would not drop her an email, I would not beg. I would disappear from her world. And she’d think of me. Knowing her, she would call. In a couple of days, she’d change her mind. She would know that she still loved me.
Except that after four days, she still didn’t call. And I knew I had lost my own game. The morning I accidentally stepped on Nicole’s lip gloss while getting ready for work, all thoughts of her came to me at once. On my way to work that morning, I reran everything that had happened in my mind and realized I could not lose her. So I stopped the car. And headed back home. I needed to see her. I needed to go to the South!
I went home and tried to find a clue of where she was staying in the South. There was no clue. She never told me the address, not that I remembered, so I went to her house, got in with the key that she never asked back, to find the address of her workplace in the South instead.
While I was going through her things in her study room, I suddenly heard her voice inside my mind, “Jimmy, what are you doing?”. To that empty house, I said out loud; “Shut up, Nic, I’m getting you back”. And at that, I found the address, grabbed it, and left to the South with my car.
Continued Here: PART 4
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