Individuals make mistakes in love. Again and again, they lose pieces of themselves in the wrong people and the wrong relationships. Slowly, their tough exterior is whittled away so that gaping holes are left raw and subject to easy irritation. They say no when they ought to have just said yes and yes when they would have been far better off saying no. A piecemeal patchwork of shabby insecurities and bold mistaken assumptions are threaded onto the folds of their hearts in odd shapes and interesting angles. They are hurt by words from those undeserving of their love and they likewise mark the flesh of others with words unmeant and feelings too strong or not strong enough. Little by little, they are being sculpted and sculpting others in shapes meant to fit somewhere someday. It takes time and it’s a painstaking process to reconcile the Wants with the Needs. The practical Needs are hidden away so early in life in exchange for the much shinier Wants. The well-intentioned advice from those who’ve already been through the battle fall on the deaf ears of individuals on the field too busy fighting with tooth and nail. They cannot be helped. It’s a necessary battle that must be fought in order to quell the fiery, seething emptiness always crying for more.
Is there a such thing as a soul mate? Perhaps. But it’s more likely that people are shaped little by little by their experiences until they are so perfectly matched to one another that they can’t tear away no matter how hard they try, and no matter how stubborn they aim to be…
Dave waits on the other side of Shell’s front door. Shell had invited him in, but he thought it better to give Kyra some space. Earlier today, everything seemed so mangled. It was as if the sun had been mocking him by illuminating Kyra’s photographs along the walls. They haunted him during the day and their unmade bed had further reminded him Kyra was gone. None of this could break him, though. No, they had hardened him. Dave is ready. Finally, he knows what he wants. The string of meaningless flings from his past lay loosely unraveled behind him. The thought of a vapid smile looking back at him from another nicely wrapped and packaged date courtesy of some friend or another was unappealing. Dave realizes that he can’t get back into that empty sinking vessel to carry him through life. The line isn’t strong enough to pull him back anyway. Kyra is the unlikely anchor pulling him to a stop so indefinitely whether she wants to be or not. He will not stay stranded in these comfortable waters unless she’s going to be there with him. For once, with Kyra, Dave is going all in. There’s no way he’s going to let her get away now. But, is she ready? Could she ever be?
Kyra leans her forehead into the bathroom door. She had heard Shell tap on the door to let her know Dave had arrived, but she wasn’t ready to come out yet. The heat left over from her shower is comforting against her skin, but does nothing to quell her quickened pulse and racing thoughts. Part of her wants to run out to greet him with open arms, childlike and heedless. The other part screams for her to stop, to think, to be careful. What is it that people always say? “When it’s right, you just know it.” What does she know? With Jim, she had known how to be “a good girlfriend.” She had always followed the protocols stated in the dating books and the hallmark cards. But, with Dave, she was constantly surprised by how little she knew. Every day she found a new part of herself that had been buried below the surface. With Dave, she never knew how to act or what to do. It was like she was starting from scratch. Every moment with him has been a moment to learn, for once, how to be loved.
She knows one thing for sure, that knowing had never felt as good as the unknown feels when she’s with Dave. It is time to take a risk. It’s time to run into something good instead of watching life pass by through windows, through lenses. With the timid, shaking hands of a teenage girl before a first date, she grabs her things and checks her reflection in the mirror. It’s so silly for her to be nervous. She sees him everyday and knows him inside out, but something about finally saying the words that had been etched into her heart long before she even knew how to say them made her feel like she was fifteen again.
“Thanks Shell, for everything. Call you tomorrow,” Kyra says with a voice she barely recognizes and a ridiculous smile reluctantly taking over her face. She hurries out of the door and into his arms.
“Hey, anytime. Someone’s gotta kick your stubborn ass out of ‘crisis mode,'” Shell yells after her quickly as Kyra closes the door.
Dave forgets everything the instant she walks outside. Without stopping, without thinking Kyra walks over to where he stands. For a few glorious seconds, they exist in the same space and time despite everything else. No nostalgic memories of what was or impossible hopes for what could be exist to ruin the moment. Words could break this fragile moment. In understanding, lips simply meet and part in a dance, warm and reassuring, like something forgotten remembered. The words they mean to say explode instead in the silence and reverberate off of every surface. In a comfortable vulnerability their hands meet and clasp in an attempt to stay connected, to share something. Words can wait. Tonight, emotions act out what’s been left unsaid.
The paper arrives on 2.15.11. Kyra and Dave don’t notice. They’re still wrapped up in each other trying to hold onto sleep, aware that it’s too late to pretend they aren’t already awake.
Dave whispers, “Kyra,”
“Mmhmm?” She nestles herself into him as his lips graze her unguarded ear. Cracking an eye open slowly so as to avoid the shock of the early light coming through the open blinds, she notices the difference on her walls. They had been obscured by the darkness last night. Every one of her photographs had been framed and rehung. “Dave, what did you do?”
“Well, I didn’t know what to do after you left. My plan had been for us to go together. I was going to surprise you when you woke up yesterday.”
Kyra turns and attacks him with kisses.
“Wait! there’s more,” Dave laughs as he refrains her from showering him with too much affection till she’s heard it all, “I’ve been talking to the owner of that gallery you love for weeks and she wants to show your work. So, I took them all down yesterday and had them framed to protect them until you’re ready.”
“Wow, I don’t know what to say,”
“I know. And I know it was a little crazy to find that ring yesterday morning. I was meaning to give it to you later after a day of filling you in on what you heard from Shell and finally telling you all the things I’ve been meaning to tell you. But listen, Kyra, I don’t want to waste any more time without you fully in my life. I don’t know how to propose to someone who already knows I’m going to propose and I don’t want to pressure you, but…”
“It’s ok. I’m saying yes anyway. I love you Dave,” and with that they melted back into one another happily forgetting to start the day.