Chance Encounters

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
It's hard to face someone who's abusive. This is a simple story, but one I felt was powerful. It's the story of a friend, altered to suit me.

Submitted: April 30, 2007

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Submitted: April 30, 2007

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My most recent ex-boyfriend was abusive. Last May, after three months of bruises, I finally extricated myself from that relationship, and spent the next couple of months trying to figure out what went wrong. When I started college it was basically my chance to begin from scratch, to learn who I really am without a string of boyfriends on my leash. It was an experience I needed desperately.

I was at Target with a friend of mine a couple of days ago, and I literally ran into him. Yeah, the ex-boyfriend that I've spent months trying to forget about. He was walking out of an aisle and I didn't see him. He wasn't sure who I was, but I recognized him. I've never known anyone else with such green eyes.

I tried to just turn and walk away while I had the chance. I've had no contact with him for more than half a year. It should have been easy, right? It was impossible. I stood there as he mumbled an apology for our collision, and as he looked at me, and as the recognition flashed in those eyes. I stood there as he said, "Kim?" and tried to think of some way to reverse time, to take back those precious few seconds I'd wasted and to escape. My friend disappeared into the aisles of music and videos, thinking she was leaving me to catch up with an old friend, unwittingly leaving me without any defenses. At the time, I hated her for it.

"What are you doing here?" I had to know. I'm not sure why, but it was the most important thing to me at that second, next to getting away from him.

"I'm going to school here."

Whoa, wait a minute. He was supposed to be across the country from me. Had I heard the gossip wrong?

"I transferred here this semester. California wasn't working out so well for me, so I decided I needed a change of scenery."

He kept talking but I wasn't listening. All I could think was, oh no. Then I realized that he wasn't talking anymore, he was looking at me. Why was he looking at me like that? For a moment I almost forgot everything that had happened. For a moment, he was the guy I'd thought he was in the beginning.

"Something's different about you," he said after awhile. I still had no words to speak, so I just shrugged. It hurt to look at him, but I couldn't look away.

"I'm sorry," he said. "For everything. I wanted to tell you that but you never gave me a chance."

Sorry never changed anything before, so why would it now? That's right, it doesn't. But I had to remind myself more than once.

"I should be going." I turned to walk away from him and he touched my shoulder. I flinched. It's amazing how old habits resurface. I looked back and I saw that the green of his eyes had darkened. Was that pain I saw in their depths? No, it couldn't be.

"I didn't mean to hurt you like that," he said. "And I've missed you, a lot. Maybe we could start from scratch? It would be nice to have you around again."

I considered it. I actually stood there for a few seconds thinking about it, thinking maybe it would be a good idea. But in the end, common sense won out. "I can't do it," I said, and turned away from him again. This time, if he reached for me his fingers didn't make contact with my coat, and I didn't look back to verify that he was following me with his gaze. I didn't need to. I still got chills.

I've noticed that the past may fade, but it never disappears entirely. It's easy to think that once you have put enough effort into forgetting something, it will not be remembered without great difficulty. Our minds are superb at blocking out tragic incidents. But sometimes, memories aren't buried as deep as we think.


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