She sits in the cramped airport, waiting for a plane that seems like it will never arrive. The sounds of a crying baby, a man yelling into his phone, a woman humming a song only she can hear are drowned out by her recent memories.
So lost in thought she doesn’t feel the hot tears burning streaks down her red cheeks, doesn’t feel the cold blow of the air conditioning above her. All she knows, all she sees is him walking away from her. Not once looking back, never pausing as he drives out of her life.
If only she opened her mouth, told him everything she wanted to say during their brief time together. She knows these few days every month will never be enough for her, and each time she leaves, a sliver of her continuously splintering heart remains with him, in their city.
She knows one day she won’t be able to leave, won’t be capable of watching him walk out of her life and into the arms of someone else. But that’s the game they play, the game they started all those years ago in the backwoods on a glasslike lake. She doesn’t want to be the one to cut his wings, and he’ll never know he’s been the one who clips hers, centimeter by centimeter, with words of affection and promise until she can only stand next to him, wings uselessly limp at her sides.
Today may just have been the day that her wings broke, causing the complete shattering of her heart that not even the most skilled seamstress could ever hope to thread back together.
Like every month before, he drove her to the airport, parking out front to give her a long kiss goodbye. But the words are never spoken. A thin line neither ever crosses. And with every breath hovering in front of them like steam rising from a cup of tea, he pulled her in for one last embrace, a lingering kiss that made her stomach drop to her toes, and a look she hoped to never see.
“Goodbye,” was all he said, walking to the driver’s side of his blue pickup that held so many of her happy memories. Without so much as a glance or a wave, he disappeared behind a wall of crystal tears that fell with the silent snow around her.
She looked up at the early morning sky, her face matching the whiteness of the flakes landing softly on her cheeks. And it was in that moment that she let her shoulders shake, her mouth open to release the emotions that had been bottled up for the past six years.
But sitting there, surrounded by the faceless, silent people waiting with her to fly back to reality that she pauses her memory, making him stay a few moments longer. She imagines that her courage doesn’t leave her as easily as an exhale. In her mind, she envisions cradling his face with her hands, thumbs caressing his cheeks. She imagines pressing a soft, barely there kiss to his slightly parted lips and leans back to gaze into his questioning eyes. She hesitates and smiles gently, letting her emotions reach her eyes before she opens her mouth.
In a whisper, she says the words that will change the two of them forever.
“I love you.”
A hand on her shoulder and concerned blue eyes framed in black glasses shakes her from her thoughts.
And as she takes the offered tissue from the kind woman to her left, she tries to let go of what could have been.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Standstill.”