If Only It Were Love
They sat there silently for a few moments. He stared at the space between them. She was only inches away but he knew that he couldn’t reach her. He wanted to say something, needed to say something, but he didn’t know what to say. Anything he said would be too little, too late. The space between them felt infinite. Suddenly she grabbed his hand in her smaller one and laid them in the center of the stone bench, a bridge connecting the two. He quickly looked first at their entwined hands, and then up into her face. She had once been beautiful. Golden brown eyes and skin, dark, untamed hair, and a lively expression that left an impression that was not quickly forgotten. She was a shadow of that woman. He could not bring himself to look at her, her skin now pale and sickly, her hair matted, her eyes full of pain. “I want you,” she said in a soft, hushed voice. His eyes widened in shock, but he still couldn’t look into hers. He was afraid of what he would see there. Or maybe of what she would find in his. “I want you to be the reason I wake up in the morning, because tomorrow isn’t enough anymore.” And this, more than anything else she’d said, terrified him. He knew that when she had talked about it before she wouldn’t actually go through with it. She was too ambitious, had too many dreams. She was living in the hope that a brighter tomorrow was around the corner. And now that too was gone. He looked up. She was staring at him as though he was her anchor to this world. Her eyes met his and he saw an all-consuming sadness. So much goddamn sadness. Her eyes bore into his, searching for answers to unasked questions. Answers that he couldn’t give. He glanced down again at her hand wrapped around his. When had it become so fragile? A flick and it would crumple. She had once been the strongest person he knew. He made as to hold her wrist in his hand, and then saw the scars. She jerked her hand away and hid it in her pocket, staring him down. Daring him to mention it. Perhaps she had just been strong for too long. He turned back to her eyes. Her heart wrenching eyes. He looked past her at Ethan, who was animatedly telling a story to a few friends, and their eyes met. No, he didn’t love her. But he would still hold her while she cried, comfort her when it seemed the whole world had turned its back on her. He knew that there were some wounds that would never heal, scars that you could never possibly see, but he also knew that she was broken and he wanted to help fix her, help her because he knew that she couldn’t help herself. She saw his answer in his eyes and something resembling a smile flickered across her face. He loved her enough to believe that if saving her meant sacrificing his own happiness he would do it in a heartbeat.