Slow End

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A woman recalls the last three weeks spent with a man she fell in love with while he was on a college trip.

Submitted: July 17, 2014

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Submitted: July 17, 2014



She doesn’t know when she’ll see him again. Less than twenty-four hours earlier, she was smiling, there was a good song on the radio, and her spirits were high. Now, her bones feel so heavy she can hardly stand.


It was three weeks. Twenty-one days together, and she doesn’t know how she fell in love so fast. She doesn’t know why she was willing to sell all her furniture, break her lease, buy a plane ticket, and go back with him. She doesn’t know if she’ll see him again. She wants to believe it’s temporary, and she wants to pick herself up off of the cold tile floor of the airport and stop staring at the gates like he’ll come running back out of them. She needs to believe she has the strength to eat something. She needs to remember to eat. She doesn’t know if she’ll see him again.


It was on a boat. A boat ride she’s been on a hundred times, and twenty-one days ago she met a man who told her it was his first. A boat on the Thames that has a three piece jazz band on the upper deck when it’s not too cold and not too hot, and they both dropped money in the trumpeter’s hat at the same time. He was there with his college art class, he said. He’s twenty-two and has smooth, dark skin and a smile that made the sun pity itself. He’s a painter. He painted her a total of eleven times in varying positions, outfits, and locations. He sketched her a total of thirty-six times. He filled half of a mug with coffee and the other half with creamer and used that as a medium to paint her ivory skin.


She kissed him for the first time at the National Gallery in front of van Gogh’s Sunflowers because he whispered to her and said Vincent must have seen a photograph of her and got inspired to paint the bouquet. She told him that was impossible as her lips left his. She can still taste him. Airport security nudges her with his hand when she starts to doze off and asks if she’s waiting for her flight. She shakes her head. She lives here. She’s not going anywhere. He asks if she’s expecting someone, and if she is, the gates where passengers arrive are on the other side of the airport. She shakes her head again. She tells him she isn’t waiting for anyone, and she has no reason to be there other than not knowing how to let him go. The guard helps her up and buys her a lunch tray of assorted foods and a water bottle from the cafeteria, waiting in the room until she starts to eat.


She’s grateful. She finishes the entire plate and finally gets the courage to go back to her flat. When she arrives, she almost doesn’t want to touch the doorknob because his fingerprints are still on it, his hands were there, and she doesn’t want to lose him. She barely touches it.


She trudges up the stairs and ignores the mail on the floor. She tries not to think about his voice when he read Pride and Prejudice to her nine days ago. She can’t help it. She grazes the book carefully with her hand and then throws it across the room. She sees the photographs she thumbtacked to the wall above her bed and does her best not to cry. She doesn’t know when she’ll see him again. Will she ever hear his voice? Will she ever feel him?


It was in this bed. In this bed under her cheap sheets on the sixth day she knew him, they made love. She chastised herself in the morning when she woke up and he wasn’t there, but instantly forgave him and herself when she smelled bacon and heard him humming an Ed Sheeran song. Her neighbor’s teenage daughter picked at them playfully when she noticed he was wearing the same clothes as when they arrived. Did she wave before she entered her house today? If she did, she forgot to wave back, and suddenly felt like a bad neighbor.


Three days ago, they went back on the boat. The jazz band wasn’t playing. It was cloudy. They knew he was the only one in his class who hasn’t packed. He would have stayed if not for his younger sister. She’s only thirteen and he has custody of her. It’s the 21st century and she still gets bullied for being black and having braces. He told her through tears he couldn’t leave her and she held him for an hour.


Yesterday, she stuck a note to every possession she couldn’t take on a plane with a price she would sell it for. She had two suitcases packed. Her finger shook as it hovered the Purchase Flight button on her phone. She could have, and she doesn’t know why she didn’t. She doesn’t know if she’ll see him again. He’s been on the plane for two hours. He won’t be able to make a phone call until he lands in Miami for a layover. It’s Friday. Last Friday they were at a music festival. Seven days later and he’s on a plane and she’s on her kitchen floor.


It takes her two months full of Skype calls, letter writing, and tears for her to realize she could have, and she will.


She quits her job the second she has enough money for a flight. She sells all of the possessions she can’t take on a plane. She breaks her lease. She buys a one way ticket and takes a taxi to the airport with two stuffed suitcases and tears in her eyes. Her layover is in Boston and she befriends a man who is going to visit his family in Texas. She says she’s going home.


When she knocks at his door, his little sister opens it, and she grabs her by the shoulders and stares into her wide eyes. She flat out tells her not to let anyone make her feel anything less than a strong, beautiful, growing woman. His sister hugs her and whispers in her ear that he will be so happy to find out she’s here. The second she hears his voice she nearly faints and he runs to her like a sprinter. Jazz music is ringing through the house and as they both collapse to the concrete holding each other, he tells you he felt your presence twenty minutes before you got here. She couldn’t be without him. Every time one of them leaves the room, she can’t wait until she sees him again.

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