When she looks back on today a million miles from this place and everyone and everything it holds she will remember only a fraction of what truly happened. It will be muted and misrepresented by every future event. Maybe the grass won't seem as green as it is, and the sky will be blue instead of this unique shade of gray that should have foretold the importance, the change that was bubbling on the horizon. His intentions might be darker, her purpose less carefully planned. She won't remember that she chose to wear that dress for him, or that it took her seven hours and nineteen minutes to decide on the right shoes and shade of eyeshadow. And it won't matter anymore that she was six minutes late, a fact that today was nearly earth shattering, catastrophic. The details...most of them will be lost, some to time, but also some for the purposes of pure self preservation.
What will remain is only a ghost of the truth, a flawed recollection of the most important and most devastating evening of her life. He does not stand nervously fiddling with something in his jacket pocket in their favorite spot. His hands are not sweaty and his disheveled hair gives nothing away. He waits at a nondescript park bench, annoyed and time stricken. She does not lose her breath at the sight of him, enticed by his rugged appearance, and the sense that something important was going to happen did not literally crackle in the air.
If she were able to rewind, go back to this exact moment, she would marvel at the fact that she forgot the most important parts of that day. But each day she loses a little more, moves a little farther away from the girl she used to be and the things that were important. She will not recall the way that he looked at her, or the sharp intake of breath he took when he held her face. She will not know that she radiated beauty, her eyes bluer in the gray, happiness amplifying every perfect feature he already saw in her. Instead she wonders why he won't let her touch him, remembers the distance he kept. She won't remember stepping back, or know that he watched her eyes darken, harden, and eventually set.
All she sees is this boy that was supposed to meet her at the park, this boy that she had known most of her life, couldn't even look her in the eyes. She doesn't know she shook her head, and wrung her hands and backed away. Or that the horrifying look on her face was the caused by a paralyzing fear that she was wrong about this boy's intentions, rather than the result of anything he had actually done. Here they teetered on on the edge of many things...love, friendship, hate, repulsion, sanity...a future together.
And if she could go back and watch it happen again she would see. She would see that it was his face that fell in disappointment as she walked away, shaking her head, and whispering "no...". A no that was laced with devastation and the incorrect notion that this boy had led her here to break her heart. She remembers instead that he left her there, broken and crying...even after the rain began to pour.
It's funny how perceptions flaw memories so indefinitely. It did not even rain that day, and that gray sky that she thought was blue? It actually got bluer. And that boy that broke her heart, that first boy to ever do so, was fiddling with a key in his pocket. A key to a house that he bought for her, for them. Because it had taken one crazy night with his best friend under the stars to not only show him that he loved her, but that he needed her to survive.
Each heart here was broken. And it only took a moment to change their path, their destiny. If she could rewind she'd watch him crumple to the ground as she ran, see the tears stream down his face, and marvel at the fact that his eyes seemed to glow as the sky brightened. She would see him take the key out of his pocket and toss it on the ground in disgust and pain. And if she cared to watch a bit longer she would see that he picked that key back up and set it on their bench with a note. A note that she never looked for and never found.
"I think I've loved you since the first day I saw you here. We were 7, and I was digging for worms after the rain to go fishing with my dad, and when you walked up you told me that was the coolest thing you had ever seen. I didn't know what love was then. 12 years later I'm not sure if I do even now, but I do know that I need you. I need you here with me, always. I know you deserve better, but I want to give you everything I have. So here is your key...to my heart and our future. This is why I brought you here today. I was always waiting for you and I didn't even know it. But run first and live your life and if you don't find what you're looking for I will still be here, and this key will still be yours"
He found the note against the rail of his fence a few days later, wrongly assuming she had found it, but still left him. And that key sat right where he had left it when he returned. And his heart shattered, sure of the fact that she had no intentions of ever returning. And if she could have seen it she would know. She would know that that note and that key remained in his pocket always. A feint reminder of her, and the fact that he loved somebody once, still loved her today. But she could not see this.
She did the only thing that she knew how to do; she ran. As far away from this place and as fast as she could. She told herself she could never go back, never look back, because if she did she'd let him break her heart all over again. The memory twisting and darkening already.
Years later she would return, exhausted with her journey and the lack of something she could not quite place. And she sat next to a stranger at the bar. A drunken stranger telling the story of a girl that had left him behind so many years before. She would listen, and she would agree. But she would never see that the man also held in his pocket a note and a key. And a place in his heart that he still kept solely for her.
She still did not see. She did not see those eyes hidden beneath his ballcap that would have given him away. She did not notice that at some point his breath caught in his throat when he finally looked at her, saw her for who she was. She was too focused on avoiding the man that broke her heart that she paid no attention to this rugged and disheveled man that sat next to her.
She did not notice when he left, but moments later tried to catch him because he forgot his key on a napkin that was not a napkin but a note upon further review...notes actually. The first was rather simple, kind of sleazy out of context.
"5424 birch road, blue farmhouse white fence...I'm still waiting"
And then a familiar note, one yellowed with age and almost torn at the folds that had been opened and closed so many times.
And her clouded memory began to unravel, readjust. And 10 years after that day she finally saw it. And she ran again, but with a different purpose this time.