27 | What Could Have Been
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
- Mother Teresa
“I know you love me.”
He blinks, his mouth opening in shock. His eyes hold disbelief and a pinch of happiness - happiness that I know the truth.
“I always have,” he admits, running a hand through his brown hair. I think it's grown a few inches since the last time I was having a proper conversation with him. “It just took me a long time to figure out that I loved you.”
I smile sadly. The fact that everything that all of this happened to us shows that we aren’t right for each other. Sure, I have a connection with him - I probably always will - but after everything that happened, I could never be with him. The harsh reality is agonizing but so true.
“I know,” I pat his broad shoulder lightly in a comforting manner. “I know.”
He sighs and peers at me with his green eyes. The eyes I fell in love with.
“We never stood a chance did we?” He asks, half-heartedly. My head shakes, admitting the answer. Some things just aren’t meant to be. We weren’t meant to be. “I think we would have been great. No, amazing. We would have been amazing if everything was normal. If I hadn’t messed up - if you hadn’t left.”
I don’t want to say it but I still don’t think we would have been great. Too much has happened. Callum had to learn from his mistakes, like me. I know, deep down, that we can never be anything more than friends.
We are just too different.
“You don’t think so though.” He states, gazing softly at me. My shoulders slump in defeat. He laughs, bitterly. “Oh wow, I really am an f*ck up.”
“No, you’re not.” I assert, clutching onto his forearm. “I know this is so cliche but it’s not you, it’s me. I just have this gut feeling that we weren’t meant to be together. Yes, I still love you - I don’t think that will go away. You’re my first love, that will always stay with me. We both deserve someone better.”
Callum stares at me intensely, internally debating with himself about whether to argue or not. I know he knows that we shouldn’t be together. He also knows he’s a better person now. He’s learning from his mistakes and he’s changed - okay, he’s changing.
“Well,” he breathes. “You have some sort of point. But...I don’t think I can imagine being with anyone else but you.”
My heart skids to a stop, collapsing on me. He still has an effect on me. Always.
“You can. You’re just being stubborn.” I retort. “Now, you are going to let me go.”
“I never even had you.” He counters.
“No, I meant let me go emotionally. Let your heart move on.” I correct myself.
Callum’s jaw clenches. His green eyes direct their attention off into the distance. I follow his eyes, stopping at the sight of a young couple playing frisbee together. I know what he’s thinking: that could have been us. How do I get him to understand that it never would have been? If we had got together, it wouldn’t have lasted long.
The young girl misses the frisbee and runs off to fetch it, unbeknownst to her that her boyfriend is following her with a mischevious face. He wraps his arms around her and hoists her into the air, with great ease. She squeals and giggles. Their actions leave me second-guessing everything. That could have been us.
I shouldn’t even reconsider this though. I know what I have to do.
After seeing mom yesterday, I set my mind on the simple task of finding Jason. Unfortunately, he didn’t come home last night. So I had hoped I would see him after school today but he wasn't there either. He didn’t come to pick me up. Instead, he asked Alan.
Slightly annoyed at his avoidance, I decided to go off to the park to cool down and think - again. And then, I bumped into Callum. One thing led to another and here the two of us are, talking.
“I don’t think I can.” He says, breaking my train of thought.
Ugh, I really want to slap him. I suddenly think. I thought this would be so easy. I thought he would say one or two things and then relent.
Why can’t he just...forget? Love can’t simply just be forgotten. It takes time.
“Callum, I get it- it's hard. But you have to otherwise you will be unhappy for the rest of your life. I hate to put this so bluntly but, I am never going to be with you. So get over me and think about yourself!” Comes my harsh reply. I'm shouting now.
Surely something out of that had to register in his head.
“But -” he frowns.
“Callum Jerald, I am ordering you to do this. If you truly love me, you will do this for me and goddamit, you will do this for yourself.”
I think that did it.
His mouth clamps shut and he freezes. If he really loves me like he claims, he has to stop this. Stop pining over me. And then all I have to do is talk to Jason and bam, I will have no more boy problems.
Except for Brock. Dammit.
“Right then, I guess its time to start a new page - a new chapter.” He suddenly says, interrupting my cursing. Abruptly, Callum stands up from the bench. “I guess I’m going to...well, I don’t know yet.”
I copy his action and stand up to my full height so that the top of my head is reaching his eyes. Callum is a giant. That thought just occurred to me. I mean, I knew he was tall. He's always been tall but now he feels like a giant.
“Thank you.” I smile, genuinely. “You are doing the right thing. We both need to move on and forget what happened.”
“Can I ask you something?” He says, nervously. When I nod my head, he swallows, harshly. “Is all of this because of Jason? Or are you saying it because its long overdue?”
“Both,” I answer, noting the hurt that flashes in his green eyes. What - oh he thinks I’m doing this so he doesn’t come in between my fake relationship with Jason. I don’t know why but I feel as if I owe it to Callum, to tell the truth. I honestly don’t care anymore if Lulu fires me or whatever. “Jason and I aren’t actually dating. It’s fake.”
“What?” He blurts out.
I laugh lightly, “You see, one of the big bosses at Vogue saw something with us in our film and wanted us to do some sort of love campaign for summer. My manager forced us to start dating and yeah. I don’t love him.”
“But he loves you,” Callum states, with a strong and confident voice.
“How did you -” I stop myself.
“It’s as clear as day. He looks at you with hearts in his eyes, you are just oblivious.” Callum says with humour. My cheeks tinge a slight pink at his admission. Of course, I’m just blind to all of this.
“Yeah well,” I shrug. “We all have our flaws.”
Callum nods his head in agreement. “Very true.”
“I’m glad we had this talk,” I tell him, maintaining eye contact.
“So am I,” Callum replies. “I think I’m going to need some time away from you to get my head together. When I’m ready, do you think we can still be friends?”
My reply is instant. “Absolutely. Just because we can’t be together romantically doesn’t mean I can’t still be friends with you.”
Callum beams, his green eyes glimmering under the bright sun. “Brilliant. I guess I’ll see you soon Whitney Winters.”
I grin back at him. “I guess you will.”
With that, Callum spins on his heels and strolls off through the park. My eyes stay focused on his back, watching his form get smaller and smaller as he walks away.
I don’t know when I will see him. I don’t think he will be coming to school for a while. Wherever he goes, it will be quiet and insighting. I just hope he finds peace and solitude soon.
Once Callum has disappeared, I head off the opposite direction to him, back to Casey’s house. Hopefully, Jason will be there. If he’s not, I’m going to have to go on a manhunt for him. I want everything between us sorted so I can go about my life normally.
But this mess won’t be sorted soon. After my talk, I’m going to have to call up the devil - Lulu.
One step at a time.
First on the agenda: Jason.
With my mind completely ready for the next confrontation, I speed up my walk.
This is going to be a long day.
We are close to the end! I can't believe it. This book has always had a special place in my heart. I truly love it. Thank you so much for reading! My next update will be soon.