It’s kind of strange sitting here. It feels a little bit like no time has passed, and I’m 17 again. I swear to God, these picnic tables haven’t changed. This one still rocks a little bit, if you move around, but I’m not. I’m just sitting here, leaning back on my hands, watching you. Both of you, actually. And from here it looks like you could be together, the way you’re standing, the way he keeps running his fingers through his hair. And then I really do feel like no time has gone by, because I’m struck with the sensation that I’m still completely in love with both of you, for reasons I could never begin to explain. Maybe I could explain you, a little bit. I needed to protect you. You needed me. And there was the shared secret that no one else would ever get. Not fully anyway. Including him, but what did he ever get? He just sort of breezed through everything, or at least that’s how I remember it now. It’s been a long time. Years. I still can’t believe you asked me to come with you. What the hell was that about? I suppose it was the perfect choice, wasn’t it? There was this completely fucked up chemistry no one else would understand between all of us, especially between us three. So I’m here, offering as much support as I can while sitting on another picnic table fifteen feet away. When did it start to rain? The London mindset isn’t something I thought I’d fall back into so easily. The weather is just so…expected. All of this is.
“I need to see you,” he said. “Before everyone else.”
He looked so surprised when I showed up with you. It surprised me how recognizable he was. The second I set foot in the park, I spotted him. Part of me would always know him. He hugged me first, and it was so familiar, but I was still cautious, because I was aware that, even now, he could still pull me back in. And then I walked over here, without too much thought, because I knew he didn’t want to talk to me, and I knew you didn’t really need me now. It was always before and after when I was most needed.
I’d stopped watching you. Now when I look back over, you’re crying, and he looks like he doesn’t know what to do about it. It’s not like he ever knew what to do when things got complicated. I’m so close to just getting up and making him leave and fixing this myself, but I don’t. Fixing other people’s problems is not my game anymore, so I just watch. And he finally hugs you and looks at me, but I can’t read his expression. I see him whisper “I’m sorry.”
Two minutes later and he’s walking away. “I’ll meet you at Starbucks later,” he says, like nothing’s happened, exactly like he always does, and instead of being angry, I just want to laugh.
“What’d he say?” I ask, not moving. You turn to me, but don’t come closer.
“He said he’s finally over me, and he’s sorry for everything he put me through.”
I can’t help but sigh. Of course that’s what he said.
“It’s him,” I offer, with what I hope is an apologetic smile.
“God, why do I even care?” you ask, finally coming to sit beside me. The table rocks a little and then settles when you rest your head on my shoulder.
“Because it’s us?” I reply, wiggling my fingers because they’re numb. “And we’re here?”
“I knew there was a reason I swore I’d never set foot in here again,” you grumble, but I can tell without looking that you’re smiling.
“Starbucks?” I suggest. “On me.”
“I’ll need my energy,” you agree. “For the rest of the week.”
“You and me both, babe.”
There might be just enough caffeine in a latte to get us through.