A/N: Love is a pretty amazing thing, huh? Crazy, but amazing.
He kept the champagne glasses.
He never knew why he did it, but he did. The empty glasses remained on his side table – the one next to the floor to ceiling window. Empty, but not forgotten. Dust collected on the rims and on the insides of the glass, but he always remembered to clean them.
In the beginning, people asked why he kept those glasses; didn't he always complain that they were the most hideous pair of glassware he had ever seen? Pink-tinted glasses looked horrible anyway, so why did he keep them? Why not throw them away?
Back then, his answer would be the same: his girlfriend liked them there.
But now, with that relationship lost and gone like the summer breeze in autumn, nobody could understand why those glasses were still sitting on the table. Wouldn't it be better to remove them from view? Wouldn't that make it easier for him to move on?
He could not understand either. Still, he kept them there. Everyone assumed he kept them there as a silent reminder of the things they used to do, the things they could have done…
The things that they should have done.
As the months flew by, the empty glasses slowly became a symbol of his lost love. Day by day, they reminded him of everything that he once had. Everytime he cast a gaze upon the glasses, a pang of sadness would overwhelm him.
In retrospect, he really should have just thrown them away. It would have been better, healthier even, to do that. Thinking about the girl who stole his heart and charmed him with that mega-watt smile everyday was extremely detrimental to his mental health. He threw the other gifts and burned those photographs, so why didn't he throw the glasses away too?
He thought long and hard about it, spending days and nights trying to figure out the reason for why he would do such a stupid thing. He tried staring at the windows, he tried staring at the horizon, he tried staring at the night sky, but he could not come up with anything. Finally, he relented, and returned to the sofa, utterly defeated.
That's when his gaze landed on the champagne glasses again. Maybe it was all that intense staring he did, maybe it was because of the red wine he had just finished, or maybe it was because he was sleepy, but he suddenly found what he was looking for.
There, right next to the champagne glasses, was the ghostly image of himself and his (ex)girlfriend, laughing and talking while drinking champagne from the very same glasses. He was wearing a dark green polo tee-shirt while she was in a sky blue blouse with a white skirt.
Their first, of many, dates at his house.
It was at that precise moment that he realized why he kept the glasses there.
It was to remember , to celebrate, their lost love. Their once-upon-a-time.
Now he knew: he never stopped loving her. Even after that fateful evening – the one where he was planning to ask her a very simple yet alarmingly complicated question. The silver band remained in his pocket, and he waited for an opportune moment. Patiently. But it never came.
Because after what he thought was always an honest, passionate, wonderful 2 years together, she broke up with him. Ended it right there at the restaurant. She told him she was looking for someone exciting and interesting. Apparently, he didn't meet the criteria anymore. Her colleague took his place in her heart. The irony was that said colleague was his best friend.
And yet, he never resented the two. He didn't get angry with her, he didn't shout, he didn't do anything to her. All he did was suffer in silence, removed all the photographs and memories and incinerated them. The champagne glasses were the only thing he kept.
Once he had figured this out, the thought of giving those glasses back to her did cross his mind. After all, it was she who had purchased them from the store, so it would make more sense to return them to her. But they remained on his table. He repeatedly reminded himself to take them to her, but something stopped him every time. It was just that he never realized what it was that prevented him from doing so. Until now.
He attended their wedding. Everyone assumed he wouldn't show (and frankly she only invited him to be polite and because she thought he wouldn't turn up), but he did. He sat through the entire solemnization, the exchanging of rings, and even witnessed the kiss that sealed the deal. He listened to his best friend talk about how the two of them met, and heard her sing praises about her new husband. He saw her walk back up the aisle as a married woman, he saw the two of them at the buffet table feeding one another some cake, and saw them walking around the room hand-in-hand.
They accepted his congratulations and well-wishes, although he knew they probably thought he was just trying to pretend to be sincere. He was sincere though. If she was happy with him, then so be it. There were other fish in the sea, weren't there? He was bound to find someone for him some day. He shook the groom's hand and gave the bride an awkward pat on the back. Then, he left them to greet the other guests.
As he walked over to the buffet table again, he turned for one split second and saw her smile. The smile that she once said would only be seen by him. It was her smile for him. It was his smile.
And when he saw her giving "the other guy" the same smile, he snapped.
Excusing himself, he walked briskly out of the ballroom and into his convertible. As luck would have it, the bridal car was parked right next to his. Why was everyone tormenting him so? He drove out of the parking lot and went straight home. He flung the door wide open and stormed right up to the champagne glasses that still stood on the table undisturbed. He grabbed the two glasses. He raised them both above the ground, ready to smash them onto the floor…
But he couldn't. Slowly, the glasses were placed back onto the table carefully. When he looked at them again, it seemed as though nobody had touched them. He sank down onto the floor, placed his head between his knees, and sobbed. The whole world shook.
A few hours later, he was up and running about again. There were errands to be done, bills to be paid, presentations to run through… There just wasn't time for him to sit around feeling sorry for himself! He got up and pretended nothing had happened. Guys weren't supposed to be this soft anyway. He had to take it like a man! The ladies may cry over men, but the men never cried over the ladies. It was like an unspoken rule in the How to Be a Proper Man handbook.
In the next few months, he never saw much of the newly-weds. The last time he heard, they were happy and well, and had a huge house right next to the beach. She had always expressed an interest in owning a house that was near the beach. As far as possible, he stayed away from them. The two companies have a function together next Sunday ? He was sick. Their companies involved in a joint project? Sorry, too busy with other work to take on the job. Business meeting for all company executives of every company in the area? Dentist appointment. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
He didn't want to see them together. It would be too much for his weak little heart to take. Already he was trying to drown himself in work; why did he need to commit social suicide by grabbing opportunities to see the lovely couple face-to-face?
And so, gradually, not thinking about her became easier. He stopped thinking about them. He began going out with other colleagues, college friends and family members. A few dates here and there, maybe some drinks sometimes, but nothing serious. Just some light-hearted fun to take his mind of work and other pressing matters, that's all. Occasionally his gaze would land on the champagne glasses, and it would linger there for a few seconds, but that was generally it. No reminiscing, no wishing he could replay it, no listening to crappy heartbreak songs on his iPod. He was finally beginning to forget her.
However, fate always had a way of playing tricks on him. Eight months after the wedding – eight long, tiring months – he got a call from an old friend. Guess whose car rammed into a tree at midnight the day before?
Of course, their respective families organized their funerals. And obviously, they were going to be buried right next to each other, with their tombstones side by side. Family members and friends gave their eulogies somberly, one after the other. He didn't pay much attention to the eulogies of his previous best friend, but instead listened closely to the eulogies of his ex-girlfriend.
They did manage to talk about how lovely and charming she was, and most people did quite a good job with talking about her personality and the like. But he noticed nobody talked about her. It was all that superficial crap; the same things over and over again.
To be honest, it angered him slightly. Yet he chose not to do anything about it simply because he felt he had no right to. After all, who was he? The jealous, depressed, loser ex-boyfriend that loved her too much to let her go. So he kept quiet and endured those forty minutes that felt like forever.
When it was time to bury the short-lived couple, everyone gathered around the pit. He saw her mother sobbing hysterically, her father standing next to her with his usual stoic expression, and her sister being comforted by her boyfriend. Upon closer look, everyone was consoling one another. But no one was consoling him. Perhaps they felt that he wasn't that affected by their passing.
Her mother placed a few roses on the top of her coffin, and his father placed a white lily on his coffin. Blood red and snow white – when worlds collide, that would have been what it felt like.
He got home late that night, after spending an extra forty-five minutes driving around town aimlessly. He thought about his life, her life, their life, and life in general. He thought and thought and thought, and finally knew what to do.
The next morning, he woke up at the crack of dawn. After his usual morning routine, he picked up the bag that he had packed the night before and headed out to the cemetery. The car ride was quick, silent, and painless. Nothing like he expected it to be.
Stepping out of the car, he carried the huge black bag and made his way to her resting place. It wasn't that difficult to miss it; two huge white marble slabs didn't really blend in the crowd of white stones.
He knelt down in front of her stone and said a little prayer for her. And for him. Then, he opened his bag and removed a pink bubble-wrapped item. He unwrapped it, and for a moment, a wry smile graced his face.
Sighing, he placed two pink champagne glasses at the foot of her tombstone. The same two that she had given him all those years ago, the same two that he had kept on his table for 2 solid years.
"Hey, I hope you're doing fine… wherever you are." He adjusted his tie nervously, not knowing what to say. What were you supposed to say to a dead ex-girlfriend? "I… I…" he stuttered, still unsure of what to say.
"I hope you know I forgive you." Wait, where did that come from?
But he didn't stop there. His mouth was working on its own. "I never blamed you or anything, and I never hated you. In fact… I never stopped loving you." He paused, and suddenly, he knew what he wanted to say.
"I love you, I always have. Even when you got married to him. I think that was pretty silly of me, huh? But that's love for you. Silly, stupid, and… selfless.
I don't know when you stopped loving me. Honestly, I would rather you never tell me. But I just want you to know… on that day we broke up… I wanted to propose to you. I guess I got beaten to it, huh?
Well… I do hope you're having a nice time up there. I heard heaven is a very pleasant place. I wonder if you can hear me. I wonder what you look like now. Do you have wings? A halo, perhaps?" He stopped again, feeling irrelevant.
"… I'm actually here to return the champagne glasses to you. If I recall correctly, you loved them. And I think I should have given them back to you when we broke up… but… I'm sorry for that, haha." He ran his hand through his hair. "Yeah, so they're yours again. Maybe you can use them in heaven?"
He bit his lip, feeling kind of stupid. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he looked up at the sky. Grey, billowing clouds were gathering above him, a foreshadowing of the thunderstorm that was to come. "Just… take care of yourself, alright." He smiled at her tombstone and bowed his head in respect.
"And you," he said, turning to her husband's tombstone. "Look after her." A chuckle escaped his lips and before long, a small tear ran down his cheek. "I miss you, man. I miss the times we went running around in college together, I miss the times we played in the school orchestra… I miss you, in general. I don't blame you either, and I hope you know that."
He took a deep breath. "Best friends till the end of time, right?"
His head once again dipped slightly and he stood up. By now, the clouds that had gathered above were numerous in number, and he had a feeling that if he didn't go soon, he would be going to work drenched from head-to-toe.
"Well, goodbye then."
Without looking back, he walked off the cemetery grounds. He felt relieved, as though a huge weight had been removed from his shoulders. Maybe he should have said all these while they were still alive, but better late than never.
When he got in the car, he started the ignition and drove off, with a bittersweet feeling at the tip of his tongue. He was finally free. And so was his heart.
At that precise moment, a crash of thunder landed on the spot where he was kneeling a few minutes ago.
And the pink champagne glasses?
They were broken.