After a moment, she spoke. “Do you miss her?” Her voice scarcely a whisper.
In three words he broke her heart. “All the time.”
Deep down she always knew this. It haunted her from the beginning with him. She was warned by her heart but wouldn’t listen. Now it was being torn apart. The only thing she could do was run away and try to heal herself. She couldn’t fix him.
Quickly she gathered her things that she left at his apartment. It wasn’t much and anything she did leave he could toss in the trash bin. In less than a minute she was gone from his life. He didn’t even try to stop her or call after her in a good bye. The door opened and closed without so much as a sigh. Done with three simple words.
Chelsea held herself together as she walked the twelve blocks home. She could have grabbed a cab, but what’s the point? She needed to walk and calm herself down. Her head kept reminding her what a bad idea this relationship was from the beginning. That she was a rebound to him right after a divorce. No good could come from this, her head said. But her heart was weak and wanted to try. So she gave in.
Two years of happiness gone in a flash. A simple text message from a ghost, that lingered on the fringe of his life swept back in. Two words. Two small simple words that crashed down two years of a relationship.
No mention of what she was sorry for. No mention of anything else. Just two simply typed words on a smart phone. He’d hid it from her for a few weeks. Chelsea sensed something was up. He drifted off more and more. Didn’t touch her, kiss her, or acknowledge her. It was like he was already pushing her away for this ghost.
Joe stared at his phone all morning today, rereading the passage.
He hadn’t the nerve to text her back and ask why. He hadn’t anything, just kept staring at it hoping she’d text again. But his brain told him to stop dreaming dreams, his heart told him to hope. Hope was a dangerous thing to a man. It could break him or make him whole.
It was while he was staring at the text on his phone, that Chelsea read the message over his shoulder. The contact said, his ex’s name. There was no doubt who the message was from. He heard the sob from her throat and immediately put the phone away. He was leading a double life. Here he was with her, while his heart lay with the ghost of his past. Joe knew he needed to move forward, but it was hard to do when his heart wouldn’t untie the string from someone else’s heart.
Chelsea said nothing at first. The pain on her face was obvious. He didn’t go to her and comfort her, tell her it was okay. He hung his head and felt the phone in his pocket. Nothing he could say would make this okay for either of them. Joe wouldn’t lie to her and give her false hope. He wouldn’t lie to himself either.
A week, several cartons of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and several Netflix series later, Chelsea reentered the world. A weekend of crying for something she couldn’t have was over. That was enough time to mourn; now she had a life to lead. A future to work on. Hope crept into her heart for the first time in days.
Work was a blur; no one mentioned her puffy eyes or chapped lips. They all worked around her or with her. He was somewhere in the city too, but far away and removed for her office and life. She staggered her time to keep from running into him. Self-preservation took over and helped her function. While hope bloomed in her heart. Hope that she would be okay tomorrow. And every day she was better. Every month was better, until a year passed and so did her sadness.
“Chelsea.” His voice called from behind her.
She spun to face him, a big smile pasted on her face. Not from him, from the man beside her who held her hand. Her smile waivered as she glanced at him.
“Can we talk?” Joe glanced at the man who pulled her close to him. He whispered in Chelsea’s ear, making her blush and look at the floor. Joe remembered those moments with her. He remembered her laugh, her smiles, her voice, her smell, he remembered it all. Even after a year, he remembered. She was hard to forget and he hoped she felt the same about him. The man kissed Chelsea on the forehead and walked to the elevator.
“Go ahead.” Chelsea stared at me.
“I’m sorry.” Those two words that broke their relationship years ago. He just uttered them to her. She nodded and turned away from him. “Chelsea.” He called after her. She stopped and glanced at him.
“Yes.” Her voice was strong and determined. She was not going to cave, she was not going to forgive him, and she wasn’t anything. She was over him.
Hope died in his chest.