Year 3 - Twenty - It was twelve forty-five…

You were sitting on the bench and he was spouting the pointless drivel you knew he would. You had known for a long time.

"I want you to know I never wished this for us. I didn't mean for it to happen." He was fidgeting with the ring on his fourth finger, the one you questioned about and never got an answer for. From his reaction though, you knew it was from the other.

"That's what people usually say isn't it?" You smiled sadly, a smile not meant to be on your face right now.

"I honestly didn't. He didn't give me a chance. I could never resist…" He trailed off and you knew he was gone. He sighed. "I'm sorry you know. I really am. I wish I could take it back."

"No you don't." Your smile was completely lost on him. "You never loved me like you loved him. You've never loved anyone like you love him and yet, you still won't stop loving everyone else." You wanted to let him know that his love for the other wasn't good for him, that his loving everyone else hurt.

He had never been that serious before. "I can't help that I love him. Just like how I can't help that I love you."

You wanted to tell him that his unconditional love hurt you, hurt everyone, because that love created pain that the other caused.

There was a bitter taste in your mouth as you forced your words, your lies, past your lips. "You never loved me. You wanted to think you loved me because that's just who you are. You love the idea of loving people."

"No. That's not...I never…" His eyes became unfocused.

And he realized you weren't going to stay. Nevertheless, he still reaches for your hand. "I'm sorry."

This apology was different.

"It's okay." You said. "I understand." And you squeeze his hand for a moment before you stand and walk away.


Year 0 - Seventeen - It had been raining…

You had walked out of the cinema and you had been on your way home. It wasn't a pleasant evening for a walk but it was bearable so you hadn't asked your brother to pick you up.

You had noticed he was in the theatre and he had been captivated by the movie, so much so that he didn't see you staring at him most of the time. You had noticed him first, about half a year before. You'd never seen someone so entranced by the old, classic films quite like he was.

It had taken you a month and four movies to notice he always sat in the same seat and always went for the first and last showings. It had been three months ago that you had started to sit in the same row as him, but several seats away. He never brought anyone with him. And you moved closer. Two weeks ago, you sat two seats over and this week, one.

He had noticed on an evening like this one. Seconds before the movie started, he had looked over at you and he'd smiled.

You hadn't seen a smile that bright in months.

The rain was letting up now a little. You were perhaps a block away from the old cinema and you stopped to look up at the sky.

The drops had nearly ceased falling by the time you started walking and looked back down in front of you. He was right there and there hadn't been enough time for you to stop.

The both of you nearly fall but he had been the one who kept you from crashing to the ground alongside with him.

He had stroked the side of your jaw with a gloved hand. He had leaned forward to press a kiss in the exact same spot.

You stared at him and he pulled away. He was not blushing or averting his eyes and you knew he had been planning to do that.

So you pulled him towards you and pressed a kiss to his jaw as well.

It's two hours later when a wrapped package is bought and placed in the drawer of your bedroom table.


Year 5 - Twenty-two - It is midday at the park…

You are pushing Suzie on the swings and you love how she laughs every time she comes back down. She's so small for a girl her age and she acts so young. You're surprised that she's twelve now and she's coping well without her mom, your sister, and that she's legally living with you.

She's tired now of swinging and you take her over to the twisting slide, her favourite. It's tall and large enough that there's room for two people so she takes you with her.

There are two figures at the swings that Suzie abandoned and they're currently embracing. It's clearly him and someone else. You don't question it though and you hold Suzie from behind and you both slide down. She giggles when you reach the bottom and she tugs your hand for you to take her up again.

This is repeated twice more and she tugs your hand once more but it's different. She's pointing at the couple at the swings. And you know Suzie recognized the back of his head. He's kissing the other boy but you also see that he's not the one controlling it. You can tell that Suzie wants to know why the one you love is kissing someone who's not you.

"Don't worry Suze." You say. You crouch down and kiss her forehead. "Let them have their moment."

She wants to shout to him, you know, because she grew to love him in the while that you were together. But you can't let him know that you've seen him now. Because it hurt to make him go. Because it hurt to know he was hurting then. But most of all it hurts to know that you are causing him pain right now. Because the other can see you and he's smiling as he forcefully clutches the one you love.

You know that if you could see his face, he'd be trying his best not to cry. You know that if he sees you, he wouldn't have to hold back tears because they wouldn't be there. Because he loved the other and he always went back to him but you, if he sees you, his smile would light up his face, just like it didwhen you were seventeen. And that's something you couldn't handle right now.


Year 4 - Twenty-one - It is your memory in your dream…

He's laughing quietly, sleepily into your neck and you are trying to keep your head down so that the soccer player two rows up won't see that you are the cause of his torment.

You know that she goes to your school and her date is from his school. He was homophobic and hadn't pegged the boy beside you for the type but still picked on other people you both mutually knew.

The girl is blonde, pretty, and she loves black and white films. You throw the last of your popcorn on him for pretending to be interested in classics. It's Dr. Strangelove tonight and it's one of your favourites. You try your best to avoid her because she hasn't done anything worth tormenting yet.

She turned around then while her sputtering date is trying his best not to ruin his façade of a nice guy. She spots the two of you immediately and in a second, she knows. She knows that you're the one who's ruining her date and she also knows that her date is faking interest so he can try to sleep with her. She smiled at you and the one beside you and she's trying not to laugh as she turns towards her date to excuse herself. She winks at you before she leaves.

You look at the boy whose head is on your shoulder now and he's almost asleep. He'd been tired recently and you knew this. You immediately feel bad for dragging him out despite that you noticed his new bruises.

You nudge him gently and ask if he wants to go.

You feel warm inside as his eyes flutter open slightly and he shakes his head. He pulls you in for a kiss, not short, not long, but just enough so that when his head drops back to your shoulder, he falls asleep.


Year 7 - It will be a day you are not expecting…

You will be twenty-four, an age you detest. It will be a Wednesday and Suzie will have come home for lunch. That day, you will prepare for her an egg and cheese sandwich with orange juice because you won't have time for much else.

She will convince you to sit down and eat though because she knows you don't usually have time for that. It'll be after you send her back to school. You will watch her walk with a boy she likes, a boy who is not at all similar to him, and for that you will be grateful.

You will have finished the dishes and you will have fed the dog. In fact, you will be done the housekeeping for once because Suzie helped while you were eating. You will find yourself at your computer, writing a letter to your mother.

The doorbell will ring.

You will walk down the hall slowly because you are unsure who it is. Suzie doesn't usually forget things.

You will approach the door and you will get a familiar warm feeling inside, one that you aren't sure you want.

You will open the door and set on the front porch will be a ring on a chain with a note attached to it. You recognize the ring immediately and you will slowly reach to pick it up.

You will look at the note and it will read to you of something you've wanted for a long time.

He's gone. Now I'm free.

You will feel tears coming to your eyes and you will look around your porch frantically to see if anyone is there.

There won't be though.

And you will know then exactly where to go.


It is that same day and you are…

You don't want to keep your hopes high because they're too easily crushed. You walk at a very rapid pace and soon you pass by Suzie's school. You met him the year you had graduated from that same school. It's during class hours now and you know Suzie has social right now. In fact, she's watching Dr. Strangelove. You can't help but think it's a little funny how at this very moment, she's watching a movie that you once enjoyed with him.

It's not much farther but you slow down suddenly and you almost stop. Freedom had been what he wanted. Freedom from worries, from people, from love…and you're not so sure of yourself anymore.

You stop and look ahead. It's only a couple more blocks away. You don't know what will happen if you go that way. It's unsure and you have no idea what to do.

You look behind you and you see that everything is as you expect. You can always just turn around and go home.

It doesn't take long for you to decide. You turn left.

Several minutes later, you're back to where you stood before, indecisive. Once again, your doubts are present in your mind. You push them back because this has to be done. You take your steps forward quickly.

Ahead some number of streets, you see the old theater and then you see the bench. It's empty.

Your pace slows again. You linger a bit before you sit down.

It's not easy for you to sit there and look down at your hands.

Yet it's harder for him, you're sure. You know he's watching you. He's not ready yet.


Year 9 - Twenty-six - It's four o'clock in the morning…

There's a knock on your door. Not the door of the house but your door. It's timid and shy and you open it to find Suzie looking at you.

"Hi." She says quietly.

You're not quite sure what to make of this because you're tired and it's early in the morning and Suzie has school in four hours.

"What's up?" You say and invite her in.

She breaks into a smile and you feel yourself wake up so that you can pay attention to what has made her so happy.

"It was Lydia."

You rub your eyes and yawn. "I'm sorry?"

"I got off the phone with Lydia." She's still smiling. "She said that Mark's planning something big for tomorrow—today, I mean."

"That boy you like?"

Suzie nods her head eagerly. You reach over to your bedside table and open the drawer. Your hand passes over letters, bills, a ring you'd like to forget, two unopened packages, and you settle on grabbing a gift box.

"Happy birthday Suze." You say and hand it to her.

"Thanks," She says and she hugs you. "Sorry but I was so excited." She tucks the present away in her robe pocket. "Go back to sleep." She giggles and it's like it was some years ago at the park.

You gladly slip back under your covers and Suzie closes the door as quietly as she can. It's silent for a blissful while and you fall asleep again.

It's not quite five when you wake up again.

"Suzie? What the hell are you still doing up?" You feel exhausted and you groggily get up to go to the door, your mind working quickly to find words to use to yell at her without yelling.

But it's not Suzie. He's there. And quite suddenly you find that you have nothing to say. Instead you stare. He hasn't changed much. He's gotten broader perhaps and maybe a little taller. You stare directly into his eyes, which are in your line of vision. He's not saying anything and you aren't exactly capable to.

"I want you to know I never wished this for us. I didn't mean for it to happen."

You're twenty again. And it hurts much more.

You slam the door but not quick enough that he doesn't manage to stop you. He's not forcing the door open but you aren't yielding to him.

He speaks then.

"I never loved you like I loved him." He's using your words and you find that there is a pain in your chest that's growing stronger and stronger with each word he speaks. "I've never loved anyone like I've love him."

He's been this serious once before. "I couldn't help that I loved him."

You've heard enough. You try your best to push the door against him, to shut him out.

But he's seen you. And you're crying. He knows what you're feeling and you don't want him to go.

Just as quickly as you started to push him out, you stop and you instead pull the door open and you start to hit him. It's not the same way the other hit him. You're hitting for the fact that he let you go when you were twenty, that he came back when you were twenty-four, that he didn't stay that time, that he loved the other who never treated him right.

And he lets you so you're also hitting him for letting you do it.

When you've exhausted yourself, you sink to the floor.

It's past five o'clock now and he lifts you up.


You wake up at seven with a headache however you wake up feeling warm and safe. He's still there. It wasn't a dream; it wasn't a fantasy that your poor mind made up. He's awake and he's holding you gently. But things aren't quite right yet so you pull away from him.

You sit up and lean against your wall. He's still lying there on the bed looking at you. Finally, your lips part to ask something you've wanted to know for months.

"Why did you give this to me?" You pull out the ring that the other gave him. "You weren't ready."

He closes his eyes and he audibly swallows.

"You needed it more than I did."

You find yourself too tired to be angry. "Why?"

"Closure." He says and his eyes open again.

You lie back down and snuggle with him because it's something you've been missing for past years. Moments later, you reach over to that bedside table to pull out the unopened packages. He takes one from you and he questions it while looking at you. You nod to him and he opens it.

As he pulls out the small piece of stone, the smile takes over his face, the one that you fell in love with.

In the center are words that you've wanted to say to him since you were seventeen.

Year Zero – It's the year that you'll meet the one who loves you…

And the other you open yourself. He smiles as you read the more recent message to him and then you place it in his hands. He holds both stones in his hands and then he looks at you.

Year Seven – It's the year you find out that the one you love will always wait for you…

He kisses you on your jaw, a simple press of lips, but you can feel that they're still turned up to hold his smile.