We stood there in the embers of the fire we once lit, foreheads pressed together, letting the silence answer the questions we were afraid to ask each other. I can hear his short breaths between the narrow distance separating us, keeping me warm, steady and rhythmic unlike the erratic beating of our hearts which fears for whatever wreck this storm had brought us. I closed my eyes and in the darkness, I traced the outline of his face and of his thick lashes until my fingers found the shape of his lips which once bore the shadows of a smile. I let it linger there. I wanted to commit everything of him in my memory in this way. Warm. Close. Mine.
Such selfish thoughts.
“Let me kiss you.”
Such selfish requests.
I can hear his doubts in the night engulfing us, the torture this is causing him. He wanted me and I knew that. He wanted me and I wanted him for that. Perhaps it was for this reason that I did not know when I have walked over the line of wanting a prize into loving someone else.
He repeated those words over and over, a prayer of forgiveness he would later give to himself, when he cupped my face and let his lips graze mine as if to barely touch me is already a form of punishment. There was restraint and desire in the taste of his lips, the want for more but the pain in wanting also. I am destroying him, tearing every piece of self-control he had and building in its stead a picture of a boy who would come to hate himself for falling in love still with a girl who broke all that’s left of him. I am hurting him and I knew that.
He withdrew his hands slowly away from my face, a war waged against himself, and pressed his forehead to mine once more.
“I loved you,” he said.
It was a confession I’ve heard a thousand times— in cards which came with bouquets of flowers, in serenades which he did in front of a crowd, in half whispers found in secret hallways and in a bed where we lay bare to each other all our scars and imperfections. Tonight, it painfully rings with so much sadness and longing for those days but also a hint of accusation and disbelief. It confesses of something we both do not want to say out loud but know all too well.
I trusted you.
I miss you already.
I still love you.
Why did you do it?
I found myself in the cold night looking at the stars I and you once swore forever with. I looked at the stars and for the first time, I did not see how beautiful they are but how exhausted and lonely they must be carrying the light in a world plunged in darkness.
You must have been so lonely and tired saving us and now you had to save yourself too.
I love you too.
But it was too late, isn’t it? I stood there alone in the embers of us and it burned me differently as the fire it once held.