The absence of depth behind his seemingly thoughtful words was keenly felt, but never voiced. Instead, the one engulfed by shadows chose to remain silent, uttering laconic responses only when the dictates of good manners demanded. For what seemed an eternity, she impassively listened about stolen kisses and caresses, the wonder of finding what was lost and moving on. Her replacement was uncomplicated light and she cursed the brightness of the sun shining above, reminding her of the warmth she'd always lacked and would forever crave.

For some unfathomable reason he'd chosen to cut deep, twisting the knife by loving someone she'd always suspected meant more than a friend. There was no dignity in jealousy, the last shreds of her composure threatening to unravel leaving her bare, raw and exposed. Roaring in indignation her inner beast threatened to surface clawing, biting, screaming accusations that no longer merited a response. However, the burden of being true was too much for the meek little being she'd learned to be, thus she patiently bore the pain of rejection.

And so he raved about his new life, the one he'd built without her. Perversely, she wondered if had she made her feelings known would he have cared? Had he cared would it have changed the outcome? Had the outcome changed would it have mattered? For she still was the same person and wasn't that the fundamental flaw which would ultimately destroy them every time? Because he had felt for her, of that she was sure. Was it truly gone? Or was it still burning high though masked by hurt? Whimsical hope burgeoning in the desert of her heart almost had her believing he had intended to goad a reaction out of her.

The romantic within soared undeterred for a moment of blissful optimism. However, beaten into submission by years of starvation it soon quieted down. Glimpsing her reflection on the window she was unkindly reminded that there were no happy endings for her kind. Forever trapped and bound to repeat the same mistakes, the part of herself that still dared to dream faded away, back to the corner of her soul that could still be hurt. Barely responsive, she nodded when appropriate and mumbled felicitations with all the enthusiasm she could muster.

Soon the lulls in conversation became longer until the deafening lack of sound led to the dreaded farewell. Her once blossoming heart withered under the weight of the inevitable truth. That was the end. Not the one she'd envisioned, planned and forced upon him, but the irrevocable final point in a story she no longer controlled. Quiet acceptance met shattering despair rendering her helpless against the onslaught of familiar torment thundering inside her too still body. For a second, she turned her eyes to the sky praying for a God she didn't believe in for an answer she already had, but refused to embrace.

No matter what her intentions had been, he wasn't available to her anymore. She'd come to him bursting with love, ready for a new beginning. Fate had other plans. The lingering peck to his cheek could be deemed slightly inappropriate, but she decided to allow herself one minute of weakness, for she would have to face a lifetime of being strong. Emotions tightly leashed, she waved him away promising to keep in touch.

The finality of her goodbye would go unnoticed to him for a long time to come, perhaps even forever. With forced grace and feigned normalcy her feet performed their duty and soon she was far away. So far … yet not far enough.