The One Where I'm Dying Inside
-It took me by surprise, when I saw him standing there. Casually leaning against the counter at the coffeehouse, he had placed his order with Gunther, then turned around to take in his surroundings. That's when he saw me.
He turned fully to face me, a hurt smile accompanying sad eyes. I approached him carefully, but kept a slight distance. Still, he was close enough to touch, and we were breathing the same air. My heart lurched in my chest.
"How- How have you been?" he asked, stammering uncomfortably.
I shrugged, trying for a smile as I said the first words that came to mind. "Just fine."
That of course, was a lie. I was far from 'fine'. Seeing his face again, his sharp blue eyes that seemed to bore into my very soul, it caused a new ache within me, and brought up an old familiar ache I had tried desperately to squelch. But I couldn't tell him that.
I couldn't tell him that what I really meant to say, is that I'm dying inside. That I miss him more each day, that there's not a night I haven't cried. I can't tell him the truth… 'I'm still in love with you.'
-It was six months ago. Six months since he walked out the door, that painful night etched into my memory…
-"I'm sorry," he apologized as he hugged me at my waist while I sat on the couch, his head in my lap. "I tried. I wanted this to work," he explained, "But I just can't do it."
"What can't you do?" I asked, burning tears falling down my cheeks.
"Move forward," he replied, pulling away and wiping my tears. "It's not that I don't love you. It's not that I don't WANT to move forward, I just… can't."
"I don't understand," the tears came faster, "What's changed? We were doing so well."
He stood, tears wetting his face, and he sighed as he looked away from me. "I'm sorry," he whispered, then walked out the door, no real explanation ever given.
-We said if it ever came to that, that we wouldn't let it affect our friendship, or our friendships with the others. But it was affected.
We never see him anymore. After he moved out, cause he didn't want to uproot Rachel who had been living with Joey, he found his own place. An hour away by train. The others went there a handful of times, I went there twice. After that, he just sorta got, fazed out. It wasn't intentional, and it didn't happen overnight, but it did happen.
For a while, I thought he might change his mind. Might come to his senses after a few hours, or days, but as the days turned to weeks, I knew we were over. I've never cried so much in my entire life.
My heart ached without him, like there was a huge hole missing in his absence. I needed him like air to breathe, and I don't think I really realized how much I truly loved him until he was gone.
Joey calls him, quite a bit actually, but whenever I ask him how Chandler is doing, he always says 'Just fine'. I think he's trying to protect me.
-Just fine. I wish I could say the same. Truth is, I don't think I ever will be 'just fine' again. Sure, I'll heal, hopefully, and move on… possibly. But, he took a part of me with him when he left. All within one surreal moment, I lost my best friend and the love of my life. How can I ever expect to be 'just fine'? I can't.
-All of the last six months has been spent trying to become a functioning human being again. Now, he's here in front of me. God, how do I survive this?
-"Chandler?" Gunther broke the uncomfortable silence, "Your coffee."
He took it off the counter and nodded his head at Gunther, then turned back to face me.
"I was in the neighborhood," he offered as he gestured to his to-go cup. I nodded. "So, how's everyone?"
"Fine," I replied. "You talk to Joey sometimes, right?"
He nodded, "Yeah. Sometimes. I miss him."
'Just him?' my brain asked, but the words to form that question never left my mouth.
"Fine," I answered, fidgeting nervously.
I wanted him to take me into his arms, hold me, kiss me. Love me. "How's… your work?" I asked, making small talk. Anything to keep him there for a few moments longer.
It would make it harder, and I knew that. Just being in his presence, I would be crying for weeks, and I knew it. Still, I couldn't walk away from him just yet.
"Fine," he replied. "All the lines point up, so Doug is pleased."
I grinned awkwardly at his attempt at humor, his smile bringing back a flood of memories that caused a lump to form in my throat.
'Do you miss me? Are you as miserable without me as I am without you? Do you know how much I've died since you've been gone?'
I wanted to ask him these things and more, but was too afraid. Of rejection. Of getting hurt again, worse than before. Would that even be possible?
"So," he brought me back to my harsh reality with one simple word. "Guess I should be going now."
I nodded, "Ok. Sure."
"It was good seeing you again," he told me softly, and I had to force myself not to cry.
"You too," I replied shakily.
-He turned to leave, and the echo of my words, and lack of words, cut into me like a knife. So deep, I could almost feel the physical pain. I fought back the tears, trying to cling to a shred of pride and dignity as I watched him walk away. When he was out of sight, I lost it.
I dropped to the tattered orange couch, my face in my hands… I couldn't control the tears, or sobs. Should I have told him? Would it have made a difference?
He viewed me as strong. They all did, but what I really wanted to tell him, was that I'm really not that strong. No matter how hard I try, I'm just barely holding on. To life. To sanity.
How did I become this? Someone who can't even function anymore, the mere site of him, or mention of his name starting the ache and tears all over again. Will I ever get over him?
The river of tears splashed into my hands, slipping through my fingers as I gasped lightly for breath. The start of a headache was twitching at my temples, a common occurrence when losing it over losing Chandler.
The voice familiar, I looked up to see, through blurred vision, the owner…
TO BE CONTINUED…