A single spark can start a fire so big it consumes everything on its way. It can be small, incidental, seemingly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. But then something catches fire. A piece of cloth, a dry leaf, a piece of wood. And then it begins. A flame is born – hot, crackling, and hungry, ever expanding, ever wanting more. Until the rain comes. I stood there, lost in his eyes that held the universe within, praying. I was unsure if I was praying for a rain to start, or to end.
I met him on a Valentine's Day. I had recently ended a very, very draining relationship, and was happy to just go out with my friends and celebrate on our own. Jenny said there was this new French cafe that had the best desserts she ever tried, so we all settled we'd meet there. I still had some time, so I didn't hurry as I walked there. My sneakers splashed in puddles along the way, though the sky's immaculate blueness did not suggest it had rained. We were having a particularly warm and lovely February. I smiled as I passed couples both young and elderly. Holding hands, embraced on benches, testing the boundaries of what was acceptable at a park this big. On any other occassion, being single on Valentine's and seeing all this would have driven me insane. But this time, I felt I could breathe freely for the first time in forever. I inhaled the cool air, the gentle scent of wet grass intoxicating me, further lifting my mood. It was going to be a good day, I thought.
I soon approached the cafe, but none of the other girls were there yet. I decided to take a seat. I didn't realize how chilly it was outside until I was hit by what felt like a heat wave when I entered. I sat down at a tiny white table with what looked like a bouquet of plastic hearts in the middle, and took my coat off. I ordered some water and started fiddling with my phone. I was 15 minutes early. The air I exhaled from my lips ruffled my bangs gently as I looked around the cafe.
And then my heart skipped a beat.
He was quite handsome, but not the kind that just makes your knees weak. In fact, he was pretty average, but something about him just took my breath away. It was bizarre – I couldn't even see his face clearly from behind that newspaper. All I saw was neatly trimmed, brown hair, a solid jaw line, and glasses. Before I noticed, I had stood up and was already halfway between my table and his. He finally raised his eyes when I sat opposite him. We locked eyes for a good couple of minutes, but it felt like two hours at least. I was lost in that deep blue, that evening sky, and that familiarity. He did look familiar. And the way his eyebrows went up and his eyes widened when I approached him gave me a slight feeling of deja vu.
“Do I know you from somewhere?” I asked.
He coughed a bit harder than what would seem natural, folded his newspaper and stood up, grabbing his coat.
“I have to go, sorry,” he muttered and bolted out.
I tried to get his attention but he was gone before I could say a word. I didn't know what to do. Part of my just wanted to run right after him, but the other half asked: Why? You don't know him. For all you know, he's another sociopath. I was just about to go back to my seat, but I noticed that there was something on his chair. He left his umbrella. That was my chance!
I ran out and almost tripped on the stone steps. I ran to the left – that's where I though I saw him go. My feet tapped on the conrete sidewalk, echoing in a narrow alley for a minute before I reached another, much smaller park. I wasn't really certain what I was doing. It was crazy. I thought being single for Valentine's may have actually started to catch up to me. It was pathetic, really, getting so worked up about someone I did not know.
Or did I?
He was sitting on a bench, heaving. He did not want me to follow him, that was for sure. But I wanted to follow him. When I handed him the umbrella, he lifted those eyes at me and bolted upwards again.
“Thank you,” he muttered again, trying to avert eye contact after that. He grabbed the umbrella and tried to take it, but I wouldn't let go.
“Am I that scary?” I said with a smile.
“N-no, no! Not at all. I just... I really have to go.”
“And sit on another bench? What's wrong with this one?”
He took a deep breath and looked me in the eyes again. I felt an electric current run somewhere in my body. I knew that feeling as well. His eyes came closer and closer to mine. We both closed our eyes as our lips came closer and locked. I knew those lips, that warmth, this sensation.
But it didn't make sense.
Tears came rolling down my eyes. I saw the cafe as we met there for the first time, and he bought me an eclair. I saw that it rained later that day. I saw the night sky as we lay there dreaming of days to come so many times. I saw our wedding, I saw our children. I saw the death of one of them.
And then I saw the headlights.
And I saw that day in the cafe again. And I saw him avoid me so many times. But I saw him always come back. His tender lips, his warm embrace, those countless sleepless nights we shared. Thousands of them. Millions. Then all those pills, and all that blood in the bathtub, and all the nooses, and all the guns. It hurt. I wanted to let go. I didn't want to feel this pain. Not again.
But I didn't want to let go. As his lips let go of mine, I did all I could to make them stay. I watched the night sky distance itself, it's surface reflective like water, wet with grief.
“Forget me,” he whispered.
He turned on his heel. And walked away, drops of rain darkening his coat. The lingering warmth left behind him growing ever fainter. Soon, there wasn't even a shadow left to latch on to. All that was left was the rain. My spark was drowned before it reached anything.