37 | Letting Go and Heartbreaks
As I stand outside the cafe doors right now, I’m reluctant go in. It feels like ages have passed since I was last here but in reality, it has barely been two weeks.
That day, Axel kissing me out of nowhere has made me lose each and every though of Sean that had lingered back in my mind. In that moment and each one after that, it was only Axel I could think about.
The kiss was tantalizingly slow at first, the minor hesitancy in his actions washing away as soon as our lips met and I didn’t waste a second in kissing him back. Our lips moved in sync and it felt perfect, molding into one in an erotically beautiful feeling. His hands were holding my face in place with a soft caress, his thumb moving up and down my cheeks and making me feel dangerous things. My own hands were fisting his shirt, holding on tight because I feared that if I let go, I will melt into liquid.
His tongue tasted sweeter than candy, bitter than coffee and cooler than mint. It tasted better than anything I’ve ever had in my life. And it scared me. It scared me that I wanted to get to know the taste of him like the back of my hand. It scared me that if I do, I will end up in ruins once again, not being able to forget his taste or him completely. It scared me that if I got used to it, I might never want to even try anything else.
And it was because these feelings Axel gave me scared me so much that when we broke the kiss to breath freely, I didn’t waste another minute and made a run for the door, leaving him and his coffee - two things I had gotten too used to, abandoned in that quaint little cafe. Adn I ran all the way home, hiding myself in my room once again, just like that day, months ago, on my birthday.
The only difference was, that instead of the cracking sound of my broken heart, I was hearing my slowly healing heart’s faint rhythm beating Axel’s name.
And it scared me.
I was getting so good at hiding out whenever it came to facing my feelings and accepting reality. In all honestly, I was coward who couldn’t put on big girl pants and deal with her emotions and feelings with the pasts and presents, with Sean and Axel and everything in between.
And that’s was what I was here to do. To face Axel and my feelings that I had not only ignored and brushed off but also tried to get rid off by going on another one of my ignore Axel voyage. And what had hurt the most was that between then and now, he hadn’t tried to contact me either. I had to convince myself that I had no right to feel hurt over him not reaching out to me when it was I who had hurt him the most.
Taking another deep breath in and repeating ‘you can do it’ in my mind, I push the door open.′
Axel is the first thing I paid attention to, instead of the wind chime that was ringing above my head. Upon seeing that it was me, his nose flares and he turns the other way, not acknowledging me.
“Emilia, we have a customer!” He shouts. I felt nostalgic about the first day I ever saw him, when I came strolling in this cafe to never leave again.
I open my mouth to call out to him when Emilia enters the main are from the kitchen doors and frowns when she saw it was just me. The tension in the room is just too much and she felt it too, for she shrugs and gives Axel a bored look. “I don’t see anyone here. You can treat your imaginary friend with your coffee yourself.” With that, she strutted back inside.
At first, I felt hurt thinking that maybe Axel had told her everything ans she hated me. That is, until her last few words made sense. She was telling Axel to deal with me himself.
“Emilia!” Axel grits through clenched teeth and I interrupt before he could call her back.
“Axel, I just want to talk, please.” I beg.
He doesn’t look at me and scoffs. “I didn’t quite like it the last time you came here to talk. So thanks, but I’m good.”
“Axel.” I plead. “I’m sorry.”
He shakes his head, chuckling humorlessly to himself. “No, Leah, I’m sorry. For getting my hopes up and thinking that I could.....” He trails off, gulping the words down his throat but I hear it.
that I could have a chance at being someone’s world.
Tears well up in my eyes and I push them back. It’s not about me and I won’t make it. I won’t cry. “Please, let’s talk Axel. Just hear me out and then I’ll leave and I won’t ever show you my face if you want that. But please, just hear me out.”
He is reluctant and eye me warily and I can still see the pain and fear in his eyes of getting hurt again but he nods.
“Somewhere else, please. Like the park.” I say again, wanting some privacy.
He sighs and shakes his head. “I can’t leave the cafe unmanned.”
“Axel, I think I’m a big girl now and I can handle the cafe on my own for a few hours. Why don’t you let me prove it to you and you go on with your imaginary friend?” Emilia shouts from inside. Axel sighs and looks at me but reluctantly nods and walks out from the back of the counter.
We walk parallel to each other, taking slow steps, dreading what is to come, like we did the last time except it wasn’t dread back then and we were taking it slow to savor the moment. Unlike last time, we aren’t holding hands. Hell, we aren’t even walking close. He is a foot away from me, his hands tucked in his jeans pockets and he is looking everywhere but me.
Unlike the last time, we don’t walk around the park in silence when we get there but walk directly to the bench we sat and take our seats on the two edges of the bench. His eyes are playing back the memory of both us here from the last time we were together and I’m sure mine are too.
Now that we’re here, I don’t know where to start. My mouth is dry and no matter how much I try, I can’t produce anymore saliva to make it easier for me. My heart is beating fast and I’m nervous, not at the prospect of the confrontation but the prospect of him never wanting to see me again after this. I shake my head and tell myself again, that this isn’t about me.
“Your bike is still in the hallway at the back of the cafe. Take it before you leave this time.” He says after the long stretch of silence.
I nod, my heart silently breaking that he’s already thinking about me leaving. “Yeah.”
Another beat of silence passes and he sighs in frustration. Afraid that he’ll get up and leave if I don’t start speaking soon, I say, “I’m sorry.” His head snaps my way and he frowns. I raise a hand, pausing him. “Before you say anything, just know that I mean it. I’m really sorry, Axel, for everything I did that you know and for everything that you aren’t aware of just yet.”
He wants to speak, I can see that but he zips his mouth and nods, agreeing to listen to me first.
“That day, the Valentine’s day, I mean, it was one of the best yet the worst days of my life. I hurt someone who means so much to me just because I was hurt. I used him as a shield and I don’t think he’s aware.” I pause to gauge his reaction and even though he pretends to be impassive, his eyes show recognition and hurt. He figured it out.
“When Sean had approached me that morning, I know I should have pushed him again right then, told him off and went on with my day. It wouldn’t have been such a mess now if I had done that. But I was so blinded by my pain and my slight desire of revenge that I wanted to see Veronica hurt the same way I was. I will admit, the kiss he gave me was not the part of my plan but the flirting and throwing myself on him to rub on Ronnie’s face was.” I say, gulping down the saliva to relieve my clogged throat.
“And I had felt guilty instantly. I shouldn’t have done that to hurt someone else, specially when I knew how it hurt like a bitch but I didn’t care about anything when it was happening. The guilt was an aftermath and I simply couldn’t do anything about it. Swallowing my pride to apologize to Veronica was out of question.” I admit, feeling ashamed of the person I had become.
“Then at the ball, in that gymnasium, I wanted to show Sean that I was over him, even when I was not. I wanted to show him that he didn’t control me or my feelings anymore. Which is why I kissed you.” I meet his eyes when I admit it but look away when I can’t bear the look he is giving me. “I used you to prove to him something that wasn’t even true.” I barely managed to choke out, wiping a stray tear so he couldn’t see. “But it felt so nice, Axel. In that moment, it wasn’t Sean and Ronnie and I anymore, it wasn’t anything to prove to anyone anymore. In that moment, when your lips met mine, it was just you and I. And it was perfect.”
“But the intentions behind it weren’t.” He steals the words from my mouth, completing my sentence.
My head snaps his way to see his eyes trained on the same fountain and I can only nod and whisper, “Yeah.”
There’s a stretch of silence between us and we both take in whatever has been spoken.
“Is that why you were ignoring me after that night?” He asks, still not looking at me.
I don’t know exactly what he’s talking about but I decide to clear it. “I was ignoring you because I know I hurt you, even if you didn’t know. And I couldn’t bear the thought of it - me hurting you. The only thing scarier than that was knowing that you’ll find out my sinful intentions and never talk to me again. But then again, I deserve it.”
He doesn’t agree to it but he doesn’t deny it either and my heart breaks a little more at that. Swallowing my tears and fear of losing him, I continue.
“When I came to see you that day two weeks ago, I was here to tell you everything - to tell you the truth but -” I start but he cuts me off.
“But I decided to take you out and spend some time with you and you didn’t want to ruin it.” He says bitterly.
Tears well up in my eyes and I blink them away again. “No. I didn’t say anything because I wanted to savor one last, sweet moment with you, one last memory with you for if you decided to never talk to me again, I wouldn’t have anything to live with. But I realized that the more I was stalling it, the more deeper pit I was digging for you. The more I stalled it, the more hurt you would get and I didn’t want that, specially not when you were making me feel things I didn’t want to feel, not anytime soon.”
“Stop saying that you’d hurt me, would you? I’m not a kid!” He snaps and I flinch back.
“Yes, you’re not a kid.” I say, gulping loudly. “But older people can get hurt too. And no matter how much you try to hide it, I will always know when you’re hurting so don’t bullshit me.” I say, my voice rising with every word.
He gapes and sits back, staring at me in surprise before clearing his throat and looking away.
I take a deep breath to calm myself down. “When you kissed me that day, Trust me, Axel, you caused a havoc not only in my heart but in my brain too. I was going haywire. And that’s why I had to run, to keep my sanity.” I say truthfully. “And these two weeks that I spent away from you, avoiding you, not that you wanted to see me either, I was trying to figure out everything - the situation I was in, my feelings, what I want and what my brain and heart wants.”
“So did you?” He asks after a beat of silence and I look at him in confusion. “Figure out, I mean. Your feelings, your situation, your heart and brain’s desire.”
I look away but nod tentatively. “Yeah, I guess.” I then turn to face him and stare at him until he finally sighs and meets my eyes. “I feel something for you, Axel. And I don’t know if it’s love or just a passing crush but it’s something. Something I’m holding onto. Something I wanna hold onto as long as I can. And it’s nothing like I felt for Sean but It’s better, so much better. It’s scary, but better.” I admit confidently.
He raises his eyebrows. “Why scary?”
I melt down slightly and let out a soft sigh. “Because I don’t think I’ll ever recover if this feelings breaks me once again and leaves me hollow. I’m sure I’ll be living with the void of this feeling for the rest of my life.”
I look at him directly in the eye so that he knows that I’m not lying. I don’t know if he sees it or not, my truth about my feelings, but he looks away without revealing the secrets his eyes hold to me.
All of a sudden, he chuckles bitterly. “You might not realize it but you’re still ties to that Sean guy, Leah. And you can’t tie yourself to a new anchor while the old clutches still hold you down.”
“I know.” I whisper.
He turns to me, forcing me to meet his eyes which I do, after making sure I won’t tear up again. “I can’t let myself be hurt again, Berry. Just like you, I’m scared too.” He admits and leans closer and I close my eyes to feel his lips on my forehead.
When open them, he’s no longer beside me.
I gulp down my emotions, on the verge of breaking down and nod to myself. Axel is right, I can’t be free unless I’m relieved of the clutches Sean hold on me. Clutches that still ties me to Ronnie. The clutches that are so tight that it’s hurting me but I have always chosen to ignore.
But not anymore.
This time around, I will chose my heart’s freedom over the familiarity of these clutches. And I know what to do.