It was drizzling the day we floated out of one another’s lives. It happened so gently, like everything else in our relationship had. For close to a year I’d let him be a balm to my fragile spirit. I remember one night, as I lay in bed next to the brick wall that ran through his apartment, I told him about the tightrope I felt I’d always walked.
He listened endlessly to me and would kiss me, and though I knew the darts I threw his way weren’t about him, I worried they lodged somewhere in his soft, kind belly. Time went on, and I knew instinctively that our last day together would come. I didn’t know when and though I didn’t look forward to it, I didn’t face it with undue dread. I simply knew it loomed somewhere in the future of things beyond my control, like my grandparents’ deaths or my therapist’s retirement.
It was drizzling on our last day together. He appeared in the kitchen of my apartment with an expression and demeanor that signaled to me that some essential clause in our gentle unspoken contract had changed.
We went for a walk. We walked to the state capitol and sat on the steps and looked at the gray scape of the city. “I need to be alone,” he said.
We walked to a cathedral and read about its history. We snuck around to get a good look at the organ. It felt so nice to be out discovering the city with him. I wrestled to accept what I was feeling with what I knew was happening. “Can we just be alone together?” It was a feeble attempt.
We got Starbucks from the lobby of a big hotel. “I don’t know how to make you happy,” he said.
We kept walking. The rain came down hard now, and we ducked into the doorway of an old building on the corner. Everything felt fresh and new, like the city in springtime was a scratch-and-sniff card brought to life by this downpour.
We stood there, quietly. The rain was loud. I could feel his body next to mine and I held the moment close. He wore a dark green jacket. He smoked a cigarette while we waited. This is what it feels like to be near him. Remember this warmth.
We walked back to my apartment on wet streets, in the sunshine. We kissed once, twice, three times at the gate to my building.
We hugged for a long time. Then I went inside.
Lucy Hester is a writer living in Richmond, VA. She was writing this piece in a coffee shop, and in the space of those ten minutes, the subject of this piece appeared next to her table. Ain't life grand?