"You feel like a stranger."
The first thing she said to me when we were finally alone. After the masks had gone off, when she could finally tell me the truth in confidence; the first thing she told me was that I felt like a stranger.
And she wasn't lying. We'd become strangers. It had been almost six months since we last spoke in person. And now when finally we had time and space; we no longer had time neither did we have space. She was leaving. She was going away for a year. And she was leaving in three days.
At the time, it hadn't sunk in yet. Here she was; looking rugged and sporty yet through my lenses all I could see was beauty. The same beauty I'd seen the first time I had laid eyes on her. She had a magnetic look in her eyes. Magnetic yet gentle. I looked away but looked again. I was standing outside the church building, she was in a crowd. It was the first time I saw her, but I believe I had seen her before.
Here she was; the same ageless flower I'd fallen for.
"You chucked me". She continued to speak.
I was quick to respond: " I don't chuck people. So if I didn't, then perhaps you're the one who chucked me." A short silence ensued as we reached the gate to her home. I always wondered about her silence. What did she mean? Concession? Abandon?
I realised she was right. This felt awkward. As we broke the silence with small talk about work, computers and her packing, I felt like I was chatting up a stranger. I couldn't look her straight in the eye. My arms were crossed one moment and the next in my pocket. I was anxious, nervous.
It wasn't until the small talk ended that we could speak like we had before. I asked when she knew she was going, and when she was going. When she said she'd known for a while, I asked her why she hadn't told me. She said she had written a mental note to tell me. I heaved.
I heaved because I knew she might have never told me. It was a friend that had told me. I realised we had grown so far apart. So far apart.
However, some miracle brought us to chat about closer-to-the-heart issues. I don't what it was. Some voice in the heart ? I don't know. When we began chatting, from the heart, I saw her open up like a butterfly. I saw her, the old gem I had always treasured. In a moment, we were in a time portal to the past; the long walks and deep conversations, the writing challenges and the endless texts...
In that blink in eternity, I was no longer a stranger. I could see it in her eyes and her smile.
And then the goodbye. It was almost eleven pm. I wanted to stay longer. I wanted to talk more. I wanted to confess things to her, but it was late. Time had passed me by.
"I guess this is goodbye." She said.
I tried my best to be a man and be strong.
I hugged her (not long enough as I regret now) and said goodbye. I wished her the best and walked off into the night, back home.
There was no power. I sat down, lantern on the table, thinking through the events of the night: The party to send her off; the conversation with her, the hug she gave me when she had walked in and hugged me, the last hug I gave her. And now in this dim light, I realised I needed her a lot more than I had ever admitted.
I do not know what it was about her but I needed her in my life. And now after six months, I wanted to see her, hold her, walk with her, talk to her. But I couldn't get that chance. She was leaving in three days.
I was struck with a feeling of loss. A feeling of regret. A feeling of pain. A stream of questions flowed through my mind. None I could answer. Her impending departure began to sink in.
I tried to cover up this feeling but as the immense cadence of my heart revealed - this feeling had never left. And here I am, heart in my throat, tears at the precipice of my eyes as I realise I might not see her again.
I wasn't ready for this. I hadn't prepared for this. So every time I think of you, I shiver, because I am not too good with goodbyes to people I truly love.