Her eyes were cast slightly down, but not focused on anything. He was reminiscing about their past in his mind’s eyes, she could sense it.
Ten years had passed, and here they were now, sitting in front of each other with two untouched cups of Twinning English Breakfast Tea. Her favorite. They both didn’t drink, so tea was their only option.
She hugged her knees, wondering if she was having a stroke, wondering if the entire speaking apparatus of her brain had lost their ability to speak up.
“Your letter to me meant so much,” he said softly.
She looked up, startled. “What letter?” she asked, wishing like mad that her voice would sound steady enough.
“The one you wrote to me after my father died,” he replied, running his index finger along the pristine Wedgwood tea cup. It made her shudder, thinking about the feel of that finger in her own skin. “I couldn’t understand my own feelings about my father until I read your letter.”
For the first time that night, her tensed muscles began to relax and she smiled wistfully. “He loved you, he always did. He just didn’t know how to express it.”
He nodded. “I love him, too,” he said. “I get it, at the end. Everything makes sense because you’ve helped me to see clearly.” He paused, his eyes down. “I disappointed him, though.”
“What? That’s impossible,” she countered.
His face turned complicated and unreadable, and she found herself feeling unsure about wanting to hear the rest of his sentences. He glanced down again, but finally he looked straight at her. He smiled uneasily before opening his mouth and said a barely audible whisper, “I didn’t marry you.”
Her brain slowed down into the point where she needed to think hard to be able to decipher what he had said. And when she did, the impact of his words were too far.
No, he hadn’t married her. He had married someone else. He had gone on with his life, clearly not held back by any of it.
“It was a long time ago,” she said, smiling, trying to lighten up the mood.
His face was stricken and regretful. “I’m sorry I brought it up…” he said, chagrined. “It’s just that… I’ve been thinking about this. How things will be different if I had waited for you to come back. I… I thought she was the one…”
She is, she thought, you just needed to be with me and then left me for her to realize that she’s the one you’ve been waiting for.
For years, she’d been trying her best not to bring up this memory because she knew she didn’t have the wherewithal to stand it. The thought always left her with an almost unbearable sorrow.
Because she knew that he never loved her.
Why say these words now? she thought. After all, they were two people who had never come together of their own volition.
“It’s late,” she said, “I have to go now.”
“Okay,” he said, standing up.
After paying for their almost untouched dinner, he held the front glass door open for her as she stepped to the chilly spring night.
She looked at him as the valet boy brought her car, thinking that this would be a goodbye that would last for a while. Maybe forever. She didn’t know that he actually felt the same way, but fought his way not to show it to her.
He kissed her hard, not on her lips, on her face, but his kiss was actually way too close to her lips. She wondered the nature of this kiss.
She didn’t say anything as she stepped into her car. He waved. And he kept waving even until she started driving. He finally stopped waving when she took a turn in the corner of the road.
She kept driving, not knowing where to go, feeling the distance between them stretched and finally broke.
She hadn’t chose the brave, risky life. She’d chosen the small, fearful, yet predictable life. She hadn’t gotten to keep him.
She never got to keep anything.
Sebuah cerita kecil kala malam lebih pendek daripada siang