It was there, in the black and white of shadows and light, the curves and angles of words made reality. Every thought. Every emotion. All confessions whispered in the dark to an empty room, now brought into the light.
Megan closed her eyes and held her breath. How she wished she could crawl back through time and undo what had just happened. What if she scared him off? What if the truth was just too much for him?
She exhaled and took another breath, opening her eyes and feeling the unexpected sting of forming tears. She couldn’t do this again. The first time had shattered her. To go through it all again would end her.
From: Megan Jones <email@example.com>
To: Thomas Matheson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: October 15, 2022
Subject: After all this time…
There’s so much I want to say to you, so much I wanted to say when we were face-to-face. But I didn’t know how—and I still don’t. Not really. I’m afraid that what I have to say will make you run for the hills and disappear from my life again.
If I’m honest, I had to hate you for a while. It was the only way I could survive. But hate is so closely tied to love, isn’t it? You were never far from my mind, for so many years. And then I had to put you away and try not to think of you.
It was easier while you were gone. When you were too far away to ever worry that I would one day look up and see you somewhere, close enough to touch. It was torture to know you’d moved back here, and that you came with a family in tow. As close as you were, you were still so far away from me. I wasn’t part of your life, and the life you had was one that I envied. All those pictures I saw of you, of her…I would wonder why her and not me. What you saw in her that you didn’t see in me and what made you fall in love with her, when I’d wanted more than anything for you to want to share a life with and to love me back as much as I loved you.
So, I had to stop. Stop looking, stop wondering. Stop thinking about you.
But you were always there, the man who stole my heart and never gave it back.
And now you’ve come back into my life after so many years, after moving away again—at a time when we’ve both come through the other side of hell, stronger people who have grown from our pain, our mistakes and failures, our struggles. All those things I felt for you then are still here, magnified in the light of who you’ve become—and who I’ve grown to be.
So how do I live without you now that I know what it’s like to be in your arms and feel that it’s so completely right? Like two halves that have finally found each other to become whole. This can’t be for nothing.
But now I’m left in the wake of the tidal wave of everything that passed between us, so much that showed me just how much I still want what I always did, and I can only wonder if you regret it now that you’ve had time and space to think. I know I don’t regret a moment of it.
You still have my heart, Superman. Please don’t break it.
“Megan, why do you look so pale?” Sarah looked at her with concern etched on her face. As long as they’d been friends, she could tell without words ever passing between them when something was wrong. And something was definitely wrong.
“I accidentally sent it,” Megan said quietly. She buried her face in her hands and exhaled a deep breath.
“It, as in it? The email you were writing to Thomas but were never going to send?” she asked incredulously.
Megan nodded without ever lifting her face from her hands. Her curly red hair bounced emphatically.
“Ooh, honey,” Sarah tutted. “How did that happen?”
“It was in my Drafts folder,” Megan whimpered. “When I hit the Send and Receive button, it…sent.”
Sarah sucked in a breath through her teeth and widened her eyes. “I’d say it’s not that bad, but…” she trailed off, then seemed to think better of it. “No. No. Maybe this is a good thing, Megan. How long have you waited to say those things to him? I remember what it was like the first time, sweetie, and it was hard to watch. So maybe this needed to happen.”
Megan looked at her dubiously. “Why?” she asked, shaking her head. “So he can go running for the hills because I poured my heart out and told him everything I’m feeling? That’s not what I wanted. I wanted to ease into this, to take my time and rebuild an actual relationship with him before ’I love you’ happens. So…this? This is exactly opposite of what needed to happen.”
Sarah shrugged. “Don’t you think he’s smart enough to have figured out how you feel? You kissed him first, Megan. That’s a pretty good indicator of your feelings, and he knows you well enough to know that’s not something you did lightly.” She paused. “And from his response to that kiss, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet he has genuine feelings for you. He could have backed off after that, and he didn’t. He wanted to see you again—he even made sure he would have time to see you before he left to go back home. Don’t forget that.”
“I’m not forgetting, but Sarah, he said he couldn’t do long distance,” I said, feeling the same twinge of sadness I always did when I thought of that conversation we’d had. “He needs to focus on his daughter, at least until next year when he has more time. There’s nothing I can do about that. What makes this hard is that I was fine. I’d put him in a corner of my mind that I never looked at, because I just couldn’t. But I was fine. Maybe never all-in on any relationship because it wasn’t him, but fine.
“And now…I just hope it’s not some cruel cosmic joke to put him in front of me only to have nothing come of it.”
Sarah looked at Megan with a sober look on her face. “I don’t think this was all for nothing. You just may have to wait for him to be ready.”
“Now boarding Flight 5367 to Atlanta,” the gate attendant said into the intercom, prompting the restless crowd sitting in chairs at the gate to begin gathering their things and those who had been standing around to begin inching forward.
Megan hiked her backpack up on her shoulder and checked the digital boarding pass on her phone. Group three, seat 17B. She was going to be waiting awhile.
A text alert pinged on her phone, flashing words across the screen. It was from Thomas. “I’ll never run.”
She smiled, feeling her heart jump a little at the words.
She looked up from her phone and glanced around. He couldn’t be here…Could he? She’d told him she had a layover in Atlanta on her way to Amsterdam for work, and he’d offhandedly mentioned that he would be traveling overseas at the same time, as well. But what were the odds that he also had a layover here—and that he would come to find her?
And suddenly she saw him, standing across the terminal and watching her with a look she couldn’t quite describe. But it made her drop her bag and run to him, crossing the short distance between them and into his arms. He wrapped them around her and held her so tightly it felt as though they were melting into each other.
“You’re in my personal space,” he said, breathing in the scent of her hair as he held her.
Megan could feel the beat of his heart through his shirt. “I like being in your personal space,” she whispered, pulling her head back to look into his grey-blue eyes.
“I like having you there,” Thomas said, smiling down at her.
“Good,” she said, smiling back. “Don’t ever let go.”