[This story was inspired by the song “These Are The Words” by James Blunt]

I was in love.

It’s not like anyone knew, though. I kept her secret, hidden from the rest of the world; she was something that I refused to share. My own piece of heaven.

And for a while, I believed she was mine.

Every time I took her in my arms, her eyes lit up and a smile more beautiful than flowers in the spring lit up her face. To me, she was the definition of perfection. I loved absolutely everything about her. From the way she felt to the way she tasted.

She knew everything that I believed to be wrong with me. The amount of baggage was enough to drive any normal person away. She wasn’t a normal woman. She was able to see through the layers of anxiety and self-loathing that were threatening to bury me and suffocate me till I was gone. A single, affectionate touch could pull me back to the surface. She held me till the break of dawn, quieting my fears after yet another nightmare. There was a part of me that was scared that she wasn’t real. That one day I’d reach out for her and she’d slip right through my fingers.

One morning – or night, it was well past midnight, but the sun hadn’t yet risen—I knew. She was as real as could be. We laid in bed together; limbs tangled and hair a mess. It was impossible to tell where I ended and she began.

“I love you.” It came out in a whisper, but the phrase rang loudly in my ears.

These are the words that brought me back to life.

These three words breathed air back into my lungs and it was the first time I felt truly alive. The first time my heart felt like it was glowing, like I’d been set free.

“I love you too,” I replied, a grin spreading across my face; I couldn’t remember the last time I’d smiled this hard or felt this happy – I wasn’t sure if I ever had.

I pulled her tighter to me, not wanting this moment to escape. “I love you so much.”

These were the words I’d whisper to her every chance I got. And exactly five hundred and fort-seven days from that moment, I decided to take the next step. Four words that had been floating around my head would change our lives forever.

The evening was cold. We walked through the park and I watch as she walks ahead of me, reveling in the chilly air. The falling snowflakes adorned her hair, the breeze whipping the tendrils around her face. The melody of her laughter rang out into the night.

Finally, she turns around to find me. There I was, on one knee grasping a small velvet box. The question that had been weighing on my mind swirled into the air.

For a moment, it seemed as everything stopped. The wind no longer blew, the snowflakes hanging stagnant in the air. I held my breath in anticipation.

Then, in a voice barely above a whisper, she uttered one word.

No.

That singular word knocked out the breath I was holding. The soft thud of the ring box was drowned out by the thunderous noise of my breaking heart. All at once, I felt myself falling into the grave she had saved me from and a kind of anguish I had never felt before washed over me.

With tears in my eyes, I asked her, “why?”

She shook her head, offering no other explanation. Just a simple “I’m sorry.”

I nod and she takes it as a sign to leave. I want to call after her, to tell her one last thing. Repeat the sacred words that we had shared. Just thinking those three words caused my heart to ache.

Kneeling there, freezing and alone in the snow – I whispered it, hoping that in some twist of fate the wind would carry the words to her and bring her back to me.

“I love you.”

The words hung heavy in the air. And in that moment I knew that these were the words that I was never going to say again.

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