When I Left
I remember it so clearly.
Ace and I were lazily sitting on our couch, watching the news about a girl I didn’t personally know.
The thing that caught my attention, and left my brain both confused and afraid, was the fact that the girl was stabbed multiple times. Abandoned at a place where everyone can see her, which is somewhere at the back of a bar two blocks from where I live.
That was not even what shocked me the most. It was the fact that this happened second time already in this month. Again, to a girl about my age.
I remembered looking at Ace with my eyes wide. I was so innocent.
“What kind of person would do that?” I asked him, finding comfort in the way his brown eyes looked at me with understanding.
“A troubled one, it seems.” He said with a sigh.
“I don’t understand.” I said. My eyebrows scrunching in evient confusion.
“Of course, you wouldn’t” He replied. His eyes somewhat sparkled as the golden flecks around his brown pupils reflected the single light bulb in our living room.
I don’t know how possible it was that my chinky black eyes widened even more because of that remark.
“What are you trying to say, huh?” I snapped, feigning anger without much success.
I was then reminded why I always acted sassier than I was, when he kissed me that swift but soft kiss.
It made me smile, showing the dimples that he loved so much.
It should have bothered me that we’ve been together for almost a year, and yet I don’t know anything about his life before I met him.
We met at a coffee shop. It didn’t go smoothly. I remember I felt ready to be swallowed by the ground when I spilled paint on his coffee.
I will never forget that day.
Paint and Brew Café was a place where you could relax with your coffee and paint at the same time. Everyone loved the place, so it was brimming with people especially on a nice Sunday morning.
As I looked around the place for an available seat, my eyes stopped at the corner table at the back of the room. The only problem was it was occupied by this guy with the luscious curls atop his head. He was relaxed, sitting cross-legged, sipping on his mug of coffee as he looked at his phone.
I walked to his table and he looked at me with the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. He looked ethereal with the gold in his eyes that I forced myself to speak.
“Is this seat available?” I gestured at the chair in front of him.
He just looked at me and didn’t answer.
I didn’t know if I should feel offended or flustered by the way he was still looking at me.
“Do you see a person seated there that I cannot see?” He spoke so coldly that I might as well think that he called me stupid.
He was so rude. And alone.
Again, despite his cold exterior, I could never forget the confident and hearty laugh he gave me when I finally spilled the paint on his coffee.
He was a walking contradictory. Such warm eyes delivering cold first impressions.
But even that was misleading. He is the sweetest person.
Thinking back to that night we had watched the news about the girl that was stabbed multiple times has made me feel so much regret on the fact that I didn’t have the sense to respect his privacy.
It was a news that was worthy of sending me to hide under my bed, yet I didn't understand how I could be so bold to ask him about something I almost knew he wasn't ready for.
I just felt so insecure. I loved him too much.
Earlier that said night, my mom called me to remind about my flight the day after tomorrow so I could arrive at Hong Kong just in time for her birthday.
I asked him to come with me. To finally introduce him to my family. He’s the one, I thought.
Some might say it was too early to tell. But I was sure about him. As sure as my decision to study a whole continent away from my home.
I thought it wasn’t a big deal. We traveled often, took trains to go around Europe with whatever is left of our money. Just to see the attractions. Just to be somewhere special, together.
But he looked at me as if he wanted to run away then and there.
“I can’t.” He said, panicked
“Why?” I said quietly, feeling as if I tripped in front of a bunch of people and they were laughing at me. I couldn’t understand.
Maybe I never understood.
I still didn’t know him at the deep level I wished I had.
He understood me. And I should’ve made an effort to return the favor.
I was sure. He wasn’t.
I started crying at the realization. Insecure. Lost, once again.
The panic surely never left his eyes as he hugged me and repeatedly said sorry, burying his lips on my right shoulder, his hands clenching my long black hair gently.
And the weak person that I was crumbled at the calm way he handled my unfair suggestion.
I had to accept that I couldn’t do anything about it. I was ashamed of the way I pressured him more by not putting a lid at my temperamental emotions.
Like most nights, he led me to the kitchen to cook for me.
I stared at the way he expertly chopped the onions and minced the garlic. I watched the way his eyes focused intensely on his excellent prepping skills he said he learned by working on a diner.
Again with my lack of knowledge about him, in general, I didn’t know how he became a math teacher. He was always so good with knives.
Later that night, we cuddled in our bed, our problems forgotten.
Early the next morning, he was gone for work.
I only got worried when the sun has already set, and the skies turned dark. He wasn’t answering my calls.
He didn’t come home to me.
The day after that, I packed my bags. I spared one last look at our apartment and left for the airport.
Without seeing him, without a goodbye.