“I’ll give you a ring,” he said. He stands a foot taller than I, so he was looking down on me as he spoke, but the metaphor of “looking down on” clicked in my brain immediately as he cleared his throat and kept speaking. “We can, you know, talk…”
Talk? About what? About how he doesn’t love me? About how we’re horribly mis-matched? Maybe about how he doesn’t think he can make me happy, and vice-versa? As he hugged me outside of the front door of our work, I inhaled deeply (yet subtly- I think) to smell him, wondered if it was the last time I’d be this close to the man I loved, and also poked myself in the eye with the sunglasses that were hooked over the collar of his brown t-shirt. Shit.
It was only much later that the irony of his selection of euphemism- a ring- dawned on me. I‘m sure he wouldn‘t be that cruel intentionally, but I wonder now if he noticed. He was referring to a phone call, but someone needs to remind the guy to choose your words wisely when you’re talking to your ex... especially after a major point of contention in the relationship was the fact that one party didn't deem the other party "marriage-worthy". I think the exact quote was, "I do want to get married, just not to you." I digress, that's neither here nor there (it's way over in a nice place called "Things That Should Have Sent Me Running Away Screaming, But Sadly, Did Not"). But back to the hug.
I held on seconds after his grasp loosened, giving away my desperation yet again. Thinking that I had only moments left to salvage my self-esteem, I took a half-step back and looked up into his face.
“Don’t call me.”
How I ever got those words out is beyond me, but what was a bittersweet victory on my behalf rendered no visible sign of emotion from him. Finally-
I said goodbye then; goodbye to the wavy hair, to the face I had memorized, to the feeling of those arms around me. I wondered if anyone would make me laugh like he could, I hoped no one would make me cry like he did.
I slowly pivoted around, the soles of my brown leather boots making a satisfying scratch on the concrete. As I began walking to my car, I was inundated with thoughts all vying for the premiere position at the front of my mind. The only two I allowed to repeat themselves over and over again in my brain were “Don’t look back!” and “Seriously, Nikki, don’t fucking trip and fall over.”