Life is a series of moments. So many precious moments. And you've seen mine. The ones treasured. The ones regretted. I've shown you them, both the good and the bad. Because I've held on to them, whether I've wanted to or not, they've stayed with me. Because it's these moments that have helped define me, change me, molding me into the person I am today. Even the bad ones. Even the ones that nearly killed me.
Because they're the ones that showed me I could survive them.
That I have the ability to survive.
That I'm stronger than I ever believed.
And it's funny how all those surviving moments of mine are wrapped up in one other person. It's not all that surprising that everything important to me, is engulfed so far inside her.
Then again, I guess people change us just as much as the moments we share with them.
Then again, it's actually the people who help us survive that really matter.
And we've survived together. Ashley and me. Even apart, all our roads have driven us towards the same place. Led us to the same moment. This very moment.
Where it could all end.
Good or bad.
Where it could all begin.
"Spence, wait." A hushed, but solid voice screeches through the still summer night air. My person, my moment, holding my hand tighter. Stopping us in the middle of some beaten down road. A road that's probably seen so many life altering moments. A road that is housing what I know is another one of ours.
And something tells me this is our biggest.
"What's wrong?" I whisper more sincere than ever, unconsciously leaning closer to her, clearly removed from this moment. Clearly forgetting six months without her. Forgetting missed calls and long nights. Forgetting her eyes before mine, looking so impossibly sad. So unsure, flicking back and forth, behind my face, behind my eyes.
I'm foolishly neglecting them blatantly hiding.
"It's just…" She sighs, breathing deep, "…what are you doing?"
It's kind of heartbreaking; the way she asks me why I'm simply being myself. Why I simply want to be with her. And all it takes is her hand pulling from mine, to throw me right back into this moment. This night. This lost and far away girl before me. The same girl I naively believed was found mere moments before.
And it's sad that I'm still so confused and even more naive, as I hopelessly utter into the stifling air, "What do you mean?"
I can tell my endearing swallowed up voice tears at her, leaking her own swallowed tears into her shaky and unsteady voice, "I mean, why are you still here with me?" Scared eyes lower below mine, "…why aren't you mad?"
It's strange how I perfectly understand what she means, yet am still so lost. Just as lost as her, maybe.
"Yeah...why aren't you mad at me?" Suddenly things piece together, in a way I don't want them to, because I'm not liking the way those gorgeous eyes drill far into the ground, so far from me. "…Why are you still here, Spence?" I follow the trail her eyes take towards our linked hands, swallowing hard as she whispers, "Why are you still holding my hand?"
I already feel my insides compress with the implications of what she's just said, with the hidden meaning behind those see through words. And it's suddenly kind of hard to breathe. Suddenly my voice drifts away to the softest, most reassuring place it's ever seen.
But she cuts off my condolences.
"No Spencer, please don't do that. Please. Don't say it's ok, because it's not. What I've done to you, it's not ok. I don't deserve it. I don't deserve..." For once she looks at me like she used to, with conviction and with love I know she's always had for me,"…You. I don't deserve you, Spencer, and I don't deserve your forgiveness."
I want to step in and save her so badly. Save this. Because it's all so unnecessary. Because I'm not mad. Because I've never been mad. In all our years together, no matter how hard I've tried, no matter how much I've believed I've tried, I've never been mad her.
But as she sighs "It's not right" once more, I realize she's not upset with how mad I may or may not be.
She's upset with how mad she is with herself.
And I don't really know what to say, so I listen instead.
"God you don't know how much I've missed you Spencer. So fucking much. Like you have no idea." Her voice cracks on every syllable, and there's nothing that could stop me from replying this time. There's nothing stopping the shy smile spreading across my face.
Because this time I know just what to say.
"I think I have an idea."
And I see how hard it is for her to not smile back.
"Spencer! Come on. See, that's what I'm talking about! Why are you so ok? Why is..." Her hands frantically move between us, searching for an answer "...this ok?"
I don't even bother searching for more words. Because I don't need them...not now. Not when all she needs is simplicity, because that's really what the truth is. At least what it should be.
So I give it to her, blatant honesty inside a simple shrug to match my simple answer.
"Because it just is."
She looks so disbelieving as she practically trips over her own voice, "But...but how? I mean, don't you wanna know? Don't you wanna know where I've been?"
Truth is, I don't. I really don't care anymore where she was, where she's been, because she's here now. She's right here, close enough to touch, and I have no intentions of letting her go.
Not this time.
Because this is it.
This is our moment.
But she keeps talking, and I'm still listening.
"Don't you wanna hear about how stupid I've been? How fucking stupid I've been running from you? The person I love and care about most. The person I thought about every day and night, just wondering if she was ok. If you were ok. Picturing your smile, and praying to a god I don't believe in that you weren't giving that gorgeous smile to someone else. To someone who was braver than me. To someone who didn't need to leave the person she needed the most, solely out of fear. Leaving her before she could leave me." Her voice teeters off with that realization, and all I want to do is wrap my arms around her, stopping her from going further. Cause I really don't need to hear this. Cause it hurts. Cause it shouldn't matter.
But as she takes a sad step backwards, eyes glazing and skipping along the sidewalk, I realize this isn't really about me anymore. This about her. Her needing to say this. Her needing me to hear it.
And suddenly nothing matters more than this.
"I'm so sorry Spencer. I'm so sorry. I do this. I've done it too much. Bailing before I can get hurt. I practically did it with my mother. I ran from everyone when she died. Everyone I needed, everyone who loved me, everyone who could and would take care of me. Because I couldn't take it. I just couldn't..." She shakes her head, not ready to go there, and it's alright, it's alright because there's time to go there, there's other nights to figure out our past.
"...But then I met you. Just when I thought I'd never find someone...someone that I could let in. Someone I could trust and feel safe with. I thought I was so far away from those kinds of people. Little did I know I was only running straight for the biggest one of them all. Little did I know I was going to meet the most important, most precious, most caring person of my life..." I can feel my heart tighten, and even though her words are sad, it feels good because letting go of the past offers hope for the future.
"...And it's strange now looking back on all those times I begged you to just be honest with me. Begging for a connection that I wanted so much. A connection I never knew I was so freaking terrified over. And maybe..." Finally she looks back to me, so apologetic "...maybe that's why I always let you run. Maybe that's why I always came back. Maybe that's why I ran once I got it." Her eyes have never been so seriously set on mine, "That is why I left you when I got you...because I couldn't stand to lose you."
She takes the deepest breath of her life, "So turns out I'm pretty fucked up, huh. Turns out I'm an idiot who believed needing someone was a reason to leave them. And it's taken six months, six of the longest months of my life, to realize just how idiotic I was. Just how fucked up I've been. Just how much I've missed you and how much I'd give if it meant I could take back these six months..." She breathes out a very quiet, very heartfelt, "If I only could." And then she exhales. Exhales so far and so hard, and I know there's nothing left for her to say.
For now, that's all she can give me. And it's more than I've ever needed. Because I knew long before she waltzed her way back into my life, before she slammed inside this night, that I'd take her back in a heartbeat.
After losing her, for what felt like the last time, I knew I'd never let it happen again.
"I wouldn't." I say it softly, mindlessly, thinking out loud, and she looks at me beyond bewildered, "...take back these past six months. I wouldn't if I could."
She looks absolutely stunned, and for a split second I kind of am too. But only a split second, before I realize it's my turn.
It's my turn to make this moment mine. To make it ours.
"Because you know where I've been these past six months, Ashley?" I don't even give her a chance to answer, knowing it's futile, because it's time for my confessions, "...I've been surviving. I've been surviving without you. I've been realizing I'm capable of it. I can function without you. When you're not around, I still breathe, I still walk and work and sleep and watch TV and shop for groceries."
A deep breath swallows itself inside her, and I see her wondering how this is supposed to make her feel better. I see her finding this to be her punishment. I see her regretting her pleas for me to not give her forgiveness.
And it makes me smile. It sends my never lighter feet to shuffle closer towards her, holding our molded for each other hands, while tying our fitted fingers together. And it brings her eyes to mine, so much softer than before. So much more open to mine. To mine pouring right inside hers.
"Yeah, I can survive without you Ashley..." My eyes flick down to her lips for a brief second, before meeting hers straight on again "...but I'm merely getting by. When you're not in my life, Ashley, I'm not living a life. I don't laugh as hard. I don't smile as wide. I don't wake up as easily. I don't sleep as soundly..." My hands move to cup her face, instinctively, and I feel my voice trembling as one of her tears rolls over my thumb, "...Music doesn't sound the same without you. Did you know that? That without you, no song sounds as beautiful as it once did. That everything in this life is nowhere near as colorful, beautiful, meaningful without you in it?"
I can feel her shaking between my hands, both of our bodies chilled on such a hot night. And as I glance to the side, seeing what I came here for in the first place, I can't stop my forehead from resting against hers.
"Do you wanna know about my six months, Ashley? Do you wanna know where I've been?"
And before she can mumble a shaky reply, I'm taking her by the hand, leading her where I've needed her so badly. Where I've always needed her.
Fumbling for steps, she follows me blindly, putting her full trust in my hand holding hers. Putting her every strength inside my own. And I can't help but feel genuinely proud for finally having some. For having so much. For finally feeling brave.
For actually being brave, and finally believing in it.
As I dig for the keys in my back pocket, I can feel her begging to ask where we're going. As we scramble through the back door, I feel her curious eyes scanning every dark wall. And as I find the lights, displaying the open and clean art gallery, I feel her confusion.
"This is my six months, Ashley..." Walking her through mazes of art, I draw her towards mine, nowhere near afraid, nowhere near insecure, for the first time I'm more open than ever, and I've never felt so safe "...this is where I've been."
I can feel her tears before I see them, slowly turning from a bright white wall covered in her face, in her eyes, in her dark skin. Slowly turning from my exhibit, displaying every picture I snapped of her one morning so long ago.
Every picture of our last day together.
Every picture on a day that forever changed my life.
A day captured in black and white.
"Spence..." It's merely a breath from her overwhelmed lips, but it gives me even more strength.
"We may have been apart Ashley..." I sheepishly look back to that black and white world that suddenly seems like a lifetime ago "...but for six months you were with me. Always. You may have ran, but you never left me. And that's why it's ok. That's why..." Turning back to her, solidly and assertively, I grab her hand inside mine, squeezing it for emphasis "...this is ok."
She doesn't even look towards me, but I know she hears the words. I know she feels them. Because I see it in her eyes. Because I see it as I see her caught inside this moment. Watching her eyes search over every corner, every moment revealed before us. I watch her breath catch at the title. At the numbers painted between such heavy prints.
And I see them too. I see the date of when this world was captured. The date when my life fell away from me.
The date my life came together.
"They're my numbers, Ashley..." I say it so she knows what I mean. What I'm implying. So she knows they mean as much to me as the numbers on her wrist "...Because that's the day I thought I lost everything. That's the day I was sure of it. And that's what these six months have been for me. Because they made me realize that I really gained everything on that day. It's the day my life truly began. It's the day I stopped being afraid. I stopped hiding from what I wanted. Even after I lost it all, I didn't stop fighting for it. And for that...for that I could never give up those six months. I could never give up what I've learned. What I've realized. What I've become."
Her fingers wrap around mine tighter. Securing us together. As if we'll never let go. "Me either." Whispers softly from her sweet lips, and I turn towards her, never realizing I had ever turned away.
With shimmering and gleaming eyes we finally look to one another. We finally see ourselves with nothing holding us back. And it's so unbelievably surreal how real she seems.
How real we seem. For once, we feel like a possibility. A reality, soaked in nothing but love and purity.
And for once, I feel like I'm seeing her for the first time. All over again.
"I don't wanna survive anymore, Ashley." My squinting eyes match my bare breaking voice. Scratching and cracking with such open words. With such untouched reality. Untainted honesty.
"I want to live..." A breath full of relief leaves my body, taking any last regret with it "...God I want to live. And I'm tired of pretending that I am without you. I'm tired of forcing smiles. I'm tired of pretending I don't cry at night..." I can see unshed tears gathering in her eyes, and I don't want to see any more of those coming from her, I don't want to see her sad anymore.
So I smile. I really smile.
"I'm tired of searching hours and hours for Friends and winding up with Seinfeld."
And her laughter has never sounded more beautiful.
Has never lifted my heart so high.
Has never sounded so much like the first time.
"And I'm tired pretending that eating five Peanut Butter and Jelly's a day is normal." A chuckle escapes her lips, one full of so much relief, that I swear a smidgen of the weight of the world might have been lifted with it "...I'm so tired of drowning in those, Ashley, and I think we both know there's only one person who can help me with it..."
"Yeah..." Without missing a beat, without six month concerns or running with regret, she shows me a perfect white smile, giving me an assertive nod while giving us a new beginning. "...Dr. Phil."
And the laughter, the newest, most freshest laughter of my life won't stop dribbling from my lips. I can't stop the goofy, no holds bar smile spreading across my face, practically cracking my cheeks with it's size "Nope. Not even him. He actually turned me down. I guess PB&J addiction isn't such a severe problem."
Our chuckling swirls and blends together, harmoniously, and it's strange. The way I've never felt closer to anyone. The way I've never shared so much with someone. And at the same time, I feel like I'm just meeting her. Like it's the first time. Like I'm starting a new life with a new person, who's the only person I've ever known.
"I guess not." Her soft voice, light and relaxed, flits over the silent air. And for some reason, it pulls me closer to her. It pulls me inside six months and two years and coffee houses that changed my life.
It pulls my hands to hers, drawing her body into mine. Face to face, with lips that hover so close, she can feel my every breath as I speak so honestly.
"That kind of addiction isn't a problem..." My fingers find their way to her face, tucking her softer than I remember hair behind her ear "...no, that kind of addiction is a blessing. The biggest blessing."
For the first time, I feel how close she is. I feel how long it's been since another human being has been this close to me. This intimate. Not since this very human being last touched me have I touched someone this way.
And I think she notices it too. I think she licks her lips because of it. I think it slides her hands to my back, holding me there. Because she misses me just as much as I miss her.
Because she misses us.
And as my lips instinctively find hers, sliding and gliding like so many times before, it somehow feels like the first time. It somehow feels so heavy, so intimate, so clean. So fresh. That it wipes away our past. It wipes away the slate.
It gives us a new one.
And she still moans just like she used to.
But I shiver like never before.
And she grabs my shirt, twisting it between her fingers in that same familiar way.
But I feel a foreign butterfly flutter in my belly
And when she pulls away from me, she feels like she always has, but better. She's never felt better. Because she finally feels like mine.
Because she is mine.
And it's ok.
Her warm hot breath breathes over my wet-from-her-lips, and it pulls me right inside this moment. It pulls me so far and so deep, that it's almost too much. Because this is the moment. The moment that I've always wanted, that I've always needed, and now that it's here, it's too much to comprehend. It's too much to control or hold.
"So..." Her darker than ever eyes look into mine, "...what now?"
And maybe that's the point. Maybe these moments aren't meant to be captured or stored away.
Because it's moments like these, which are simply meant to be lived.
Looking down into her eyes, I see her every smile, I hear her every laugh, I taste her every kiss, and it makes me breathe the only answer left.
"We live." Kissing her with every single thing I have inside me, I breathe it once more inside her mouth, I breathe our moment right in there, so far and so deep, so it's all she can comprehend "...we live."
The Le End.
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