The Hard Rock Cafe in Louisville had nothing to do with it.
Nor did the alcohol, the soft music, or that innocent painting on the wall. It wasn’t the gentle hum of the air conditioner that didn’t serve its purpose much because it felt like a sauna inside. It was the black journal they passed back and forth that contained the careless poetry they thought of and wrote.
It was her, who gave him back his laughter that was snatched away by some Canadian woman in a leather skirt. It was him, who tried to disguise a simple crush into something more, which turned out to be something more anyway.
It was the moment that he wasn’t supposed to be in but was forced into by circumstance, the day when they finally managed to tell each other more than one-syllable greetings that they formally shared in coffee shops.
It was them, finding a bond that they have never found with anyone else until then.
Fast forward to an unusually cold April night, when he told her that he couldn’t do this anymore. He was a bird, wanting to fly higher and felt the chains of commitment weighing him down. He couldn’t bring her along for the ride; she would just slow him down.
He felt like she didn’t believe in his dreams, because she always asked “Are you sure?” He mistook her concern for apathy and convinced himself that she’d wanted to be part of someone else’s life that’s not as messed up as his soldier’s life. The one he was only just figuring out. He let go of her, and she held on for a moment or two until she realized he wasn’t turning back. They drifted apart and her life went on, hopefully not as bad as he thought.
It took him so long to gather up the courage to tell her the truth. He held it and thought, another year wouldn’t hurt. But every day he wakes up knowing that he couldn’t hold her hand or hug her from behind killed him a little inside. He’d daydream of a scene from a movie where they would magically make up and continue where they left off. Turns out, she moved on faster than he ever could. She found someone else and told him herself, the same day he was supposed to tell her that he had made a terrible mistake.
He ate every word he had to say. He tried to shut out every memory of her that he had gripped tightly. They spent two years together but she spent two more years inside his head, while he slowly faded away from hers.
She would never know how he felt.