It is raining again. The wind buffets tiny droplets against my face, stinging where they hit. I am hungover. I strain against the wind, goal in sight. The Second Cup is warm and I stand there for a minute to get my bearings. Someone is staring at me but I avoid his gaze. I am pulling back into myself, doubled over, clutching my sides. I order buckets of coffee and fill up on the ice water by the till. I feel shifty like a thief looking for an opportunity. I get the urge to run. I am laying out my reading material by the window when the memories start flooding in again.
We are walking to the next bar high on youth and company. We fall back from the others as he pulls out a cigarette.
“Oh no, you aren’t smoking again are you?” I beg him with my eyes, pleading with him silently not to ruin this.
“I guess I am.”
He hesitates so I grab his free hand and pull him into a door way. There is a ridiculous moment when we are just staring at each other. His eye lashes are so long I imagine them against my skin. The moment is about to get awkward and then he is kissing me. I don’t care that it has been over a year since we have seen each other and that we parted on bad terms. I don’t care that he is smoking again. I don’t care that he looks thinner, unkempt, and tortured and I don’t wonder why. My thoughts blur together and I care only for his lips on mine, his hands on the small of my back pulling me close, closer, impossibly close. My arms are around his neck, my hands are in his hair, my heart is peeking out of my sleeve. We break away to the hoots and cat calls of my friends. He takes my hand and pulls me onward.
I linger on this memory as I sip my coffee and wait for the caffine to take hold. I gaze numbly out the rain streaked window and wonder where he is now and if he is thinking of me. Suddenly, I am this girl again. I am twisting myself around his pinkie finger, again. He is the sun and I am one of many plants bending and contorting themselves to feel the heat from his rays. I am compelled to search for him in crowds, check my phone to see if he called, and wonder, always wonder, about him. When all I really want, all I have ever wanted, is to simply learn how to enjoy being alone. I don’t want to rely on his attention this time. For once, I would rather let him wonder where I have gone and spend my time figuring out how to exist on my own. On my own in the shade.