I know where it is. It has been months and all sorts of things have happened in between, but I still know exactly where it is hidden, safe from the prying eyes of others. I open that clearbook sandwiched between old files and stationery on my desk and slowly, carefully— as if whatever I had to get was fragile as flower petals— I slip it out of its hibernation. There it is, smooth and unblemished as the first time you had given it to me one March day. It beckons to me like a smile, asking me to open it.
I hesitate. I run my fingers over the small blue envelope that meant everything to me once upon a time. It is thick with memories that I once held close to my heart, memories in the form of saccharine love letters and our smiling faces radiant from having found someone. Did you know that, whenever I would get mad at you or feel distant from you, all I had to was open the envelope and read your words to feel better again? They were magic; they were better than any piece of advice or sad love song. My temper would vanish and all I would feel was sincere affection. You could make me feel warm just like that. That was how much power you had over me.
Despite the fear in me, I tell myself that I am no coward and open the flap. From there, your scent fills the air and I almost regret having played the hero. Back then, when I had told you that among your perfumes this was the one I liked the most, you made it a point to spray it on all your little gifts and letters, as if, through your scent, you could follow me wherever I was. Honestly, it worked. All I had to do was let the fragrance cloud my mind and I felt like you were beside me, like I was leaning on your strong shoulder with your arm wrapped around me. It made me feel so secure, made me know that I was safe. But now your scent just makes me bitter. It has become a reminder of the fact that I will never be able to look back happily at all the moments we shared.
You know what? I don’t know why. Back then I told myself that if we were not to work out, I would be cool and grateful. I would tell you that I still wanted to remain friends, because you were the kind of person I could not live without. It would be awkward for the first few days, sure, but you would start chatting with me and I would fully oblige. Soon, casual conversations would become heartfelt sessions. Then maybe, just maybe, we could become good friends again.
But right now, I want nothing of the sort. I want this goodbye to be fast and clean. I do not want to see you, hear you, or encounter anything of you. If I could even cut off all ties online, I would, if it weren’t so mean and conspicuous. You see, I invested so much in you, but now it’s apparent that you feel nothing for my efforts. Sure, you told me that you would always be grateful that I came to your life, but even I— so naive that I fell for you hard and passionately— could tell your words are just a glass surface. It rings weak and shallow, hollow at best, easy to break and hard to mend.
You had always known that you had all of me. I loved you to the very best meaning of the word. I saw us together for the rest of our lives, growing old and seeing our grandchildren frolic in the sun. I know that it’s cheesy, but that’s romance for you, isn’t it? So many months had passed since we got together but I always felt that delightful chill whenever I saw you. Even if I saw you everyday, my feelings would remain fresh. To me, being with you was always brand new.
I realize, however, that I must face the truth. I do not want this to be one-sided. If you say that you do not love me anymore, fine. But it hurts me to know that you probably never really loved me.
Lost in my scorned thoughts, it takes me a while to look down at all the letters in my hands. I have to give it to you: they are beautiful. I read them again and somehow they manage to give me a shadow of a smile. Despite what I said before, I’d like to believe they were made of genuine feelings. That way, I’d feel some comfort in knowing our time together was not a waste.
But as in all happy times, they have to end somehow.
I get some tape and seal the envelope. Many, many, many times over.