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It's All In What You Know
‘Do you have to?’
She didn’t have to say it, but did because she could, because she wanted to make sure he got it. Really got it.
He nodded, and only if she knew him better would she have recognized that he was trying not to cry.
But she did know him, and it didn’t take a genius to see the way his head was bowed, breath was shaky and throat was tight.
If she knew him better, she’d have known what he was crying for.
‘I know,’ he offered with a small, dimpled smile; she couldn’t tell which one of them he was smiling for.
‘At least we tried,’ she said back, and he nodded again.
‘I wish I could change things…’
She put her fingers to his lips to stop him from speaking, then replaced them with her mouth; she tasted of strawberry chapstick and mint toothpaste and he loved the way she did- so childlike in a way, so like him.
‘That’s what drew me to you.’
If she knew him better, she would know he didn’t mean that first kiss.
‘At least we tried,’ she repeated.
She ran her fingers lightly through his hair and tried to memorize his eyes. She couldn’t, and wondering why would plague her for years.
Such simple words that held such a simple meaning. He wondered why it was so simple -not easy- to say goodbye.
She smiled and brushed his hair again.
He placed both hands on her face and kissed her again, deeply and she wrapped both arms around him. He moved his hands around her, and held her goodbye.
He rested his forehead against hers with closed eyes but never answered.
‘Smile for me,’ she whispered.
He looked up and met her gaze, his lips upturned slightly.
‘Smile, Jarod,’ she said softly, and he grinned, a half laugh that never reached his eyes.
If she’d known him better, she would have been able to tell it was a haunted smile.
She pulled away slowly, his touch lingering on her skin and picked up the bags by the door and very gently handed them to him. He took them slowly, their fingers brushing.
He moved past her, and stopped at the door, wanted to say goodbye. Her back was to him, and he knew, no matter what he said, he needed to see her face one more time.
She turned and smiled brilliantly, for him to remember. Before he left, slipping through the door and out of site he returned the gesture, but never said goodbye.
Leaning heavily on her wall, she gasped away the tears that streaked down her face with hints of brown mascara.
She knew him well enough to know she could never be his life, never be his love, but she didn’t know why.
He may have been walking away, but she was the one who had left. Maybe because, she realized later, she never really knew him at all.
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