The restaurant is familiar. It’s been months since I last stepped in
here. The oily smells of the Chinese cooking, the clinking of the
chopsticks against the dishes, the regular customers on Sunday morning.
I scan the place, looking for him, although I have a hunch about where
he’s sitting. He doesn’t like change; he likes to do the same things
over and over again. So it comes as no surprise to see him sitting at
the table in the corner.
His back is to me, and I take the
opportunity to look at him. His shaggy hair, his striped shirt. He
laughs with his friends, unaware of my presence. It hits me that his
life has gone on without me so well.
I finally walk up to his
table, ready to give him back the jackets that he left over at my
place. The ceremonious exchanging of things after a break up. Only it’s
been months after our breakup and I didn’t realize I still had some of
his things. It wasn’t until I finally cleaned out my closet that I
found the two jackets, which I instantly recognized as his.
heart pounds as I gather my nerve. Is he still angry? Will he yell at
me? I smile and hand him his things. He looks up at me, more out of
pity and politeness than friendliness.
The silence that follows is heavy with awkwardness. Dozens of unspoken words are exchanged here in my mind.
“Can we talk?” I find myself asking, suddenly.
take his hand and lead him outside. Somehow, I’ve led us to a bench
outside where we used to go as a couple. He realizes this at the same
time, I think, and he takes a deep breath.
“Hey, remember when we used to come here?” I offer some small talk.
“Yeah,” he smiles, his eyes looking over the garden.
I think we used to fool around over there in the circle,” I point,
bringing up a memory of one night so long ago when we were together.
Except it’s not the past anymore, and we’re not together anymore. It’s
the present. And I know this. Before he has the opportunity to reply, I
bite the gun.
He looks at me surprised.
“It’s just that I needed you to go away. I needed to make you hate me”
“Make me hate you?”
“I needed to make you hate me so you’d get out of my life. So I could stop thinking about you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
flooded as I let these words out. The guilty of the past couple of
months hits me. I don’t even realize how sorry I am until I am here
beside him. He looks at me in surprise.
“I don’t hate you,” he offers.
look down, ashamed of my actions. It was what I needed to do at the
time, but now it feels like a big mistake. He touches my arm, to tell
me it’s okay.
“I wish you would’ve understood. I wish you
would’ve been able to accept me for everything I did.” I am still
looking at the ground.
“I wish you could’ve said something different that day. It never made me different. I was still the same girl, y’know?”
“I know. But I can’t,” he quietly whispers. He doesn’t remove his hand from my arm.
hate how we’ve ended up,” I venture, starting to cry. I know it’s a
mistake but I need to say it. The misunderstandings of the past few
months have been torture. And although this may not change things,
although we’ve hashed this out when we were breaking up, I need to say
it again. “I wish you’d change your mind.”
Before I know it, I realize I’ve just asked for him back.
He takes in the past few months and all that has happened between us since. He lets out a deep breath, full of thoughts.
finally look up at him, and we lock eyes. He puts both arms around me,
and it brings me in close. I smell the nostalgic scent of his cologne.
then I open up my eyes and realize I’m not in a garden with my
ex-boyfriend. I’m in my bedroom and it was all a dream. And I realize
how much I do want him, no matter how much I deny it.