Promises Waiting to Be Broken

Her head was tilted back, wavy dark brown hair falling over her back. She was smiling, laughing. She touched his arm. He smiled back and started to say something. But the train came roaring into the platform and obscured his words. He said goodbye then, reluctantly, and started to walk away. She pulled him back and drew him into a kiss.

It wasn’t long, the kiss. She stood up on her tippy toes and put her arms around his neck. Her fingers nestled into his hair and she pulled his head down to hers. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer. Their lips met and their eyes closed.

It sounds long, but it wasn’t. The train waits for no one. They pulled away and he got on the train. They may have said goodbye one last time. She waved to him on the platform until the train left and then she walked away. He waved to her until he couldn’t see her anymore, then took a window seat and proceeded to read a book. It was an alright book.

Now, she remembers when she kissed him on the platform, before he got on the train. Maybe it was a dream, she thinks. Or just a photo in a magazine. She doesn’t remember. But yeah, they were kissing and happy, and her head was tilted back and her hair was long in this, and dark brown and wavy like it was. Not all short with roots that she’s too lazy to dye back. She supposes he was different too.

But yes. She remembers when she kissed him on the platform, before he left on the train and she went to catch her bus. She remembers and she doesn’t know why.

She went home that day. If it had happened now, she would have gone to her job. She has a job now. But then, she just went home. When she was on her bus, she looked at suburbia passing by and thought about him. She felt happy. She wondered what it would be like to live in one of these cozy little hoses together. She could see him every day and the thought made her happy.

He went home that day also. He would have gone to a different home though, if it had been now. But then, he went to a home that was closer to her. He felt happy. When he was reading his book, a passage reminded him of her and he paused for a moment to smile. He wondered if they would spend the rest of their lives together. The future looked bright and the thought made him happy.

Now, he remembers kissing her too. Pulling her closer and how she felt in his arms. But it was a dream, he thinks. If it had been real it wouldn’t have ended. Dreams make him sad. All the pictures of them now make him sad. He wonders why people even get into relationships when it’s just sad, so sad. He doesn’t like that things end. No, he doesn’t like that at all.

But yes. He remembers kissing her, pulling her closer before he got on the train and the doors closed between them. He remembers waving and waving until he couldn’t see her anymore. He remembers and he doesn’t know why.

They think it couldn’t have been them in that memory. Maybe. Probably. Couldn’t have been. No, couldn’t have been, they think.

After the train, it was a week before they saw each other again. The days passed in agony. Each counted the days until they saw the other. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, on and on. But soon Saturday came again. She came over to his house and they watched a movie. Later, they would both say they had fun. Not much later though. At the end of the date, they would say they had fun, to be clearer.

Monday then Tuesday then Wednesday dragged on. They had fun on Saturday. And then Sunday came again.

Time flies. When did they stop being happy? They don’t know. They just don’t know. But each knows exactly when they had enough.

He had said to her that he didn’t believe in anniversaries during dating. She told him she thought of it only as a high score, a way to brag to her friends. A way to compare relative success. She told him it meant nothing to her as well. Nothing but a high score.

And he believed her, he believed her. Didn’t look further than that. Or at least he didn’t ask further. And that was good enough.

But she was counting off those months like the beads of a rosary, waiting to feel happy again. She wanted to be happy with him again, so badly. But she couldn’t, she just couldn’t. It seemed she was waiting, just waiting for it to end. Each month came and she counted it off, wondering when things would change.

He didn’t want to change. Or he couldn’t. It didn’t matter, he wouldn’t change. He hated when she said he wasn’t good enough. Or when she said it was his fault. Or when she gently implied and not so gently insisted that he needed to work on himself, that his choices were wrong, that she couldn’t stand it anymore, he needed to do something. The accusations flew. He felt sad. He thought he loved her. He would say he did. She didn’t say it back.

It was later now. Time had flown. Everybody had enough. There were too many fights, too many accusations. Nothing was ever good enough, nobody was ever good enough. They never moved in. They didn’t want to. They never went to the same university. They didn’t want to. He stopped coming home every weekend; she deleted all the photos off Facebook. Soon enough, it was over.

And then, because nothing is ever over, they felt sad. All their friends offered condolences, everybody weighed in. How sad, how tragic. Everybody had thought they would last. Nobody knew why, but they remembered thinking they would last.

But more time passed and they felt better. Everybody forgot they were ever together, a new couple came along and they would be together forever, it was hoped. But yes, sad, so sad. They haven’t seen each other in a while and they didn’t want to. How many weeks had passed? They no longer counted days. January and February and March flew by and they would never have fun again. Sometimes it still hurt.

She was cleaning her room one day. Later, after it was over, she decided to clean her room. She threw away all her old papers; she vacuumed and washed the floor. She dusted the knickknacks that had collected on her shelves. They were silly, but sentiment had put them there and so there they stayed.

On a whim, she decided to clean under her bed. She hadn’t cleaned under there in a while. So between the dust, and the cobwebs, she found a movie ticket stub. It wasn’t the first movie they had gone to, or the last. It wasn’t a particularly good movie, but they had fun. She stood looking at it for a while.

Is this all that’s left? She wondered a few moments longer and she put the ticket back under her bed, between the dust and the cobwebs and everything else. She would clean again, when she had moved on, and throw the little stub away. But for now, sentiment had placed it there.

And there it stayed, a promise waiting to be broken.

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