Sometimes when I’m bored, I play piano and just think about different aspects of my life. My job, home, family, anything that just happens to come to mind. As I sat down today, I started thinking about my love life. My hands travelled the keys, and I thought about my parents pushing me to get married. It would come up in everyday conversation. Little did they know, that once upon a time, I came close to fulfilling that wish.
Her name was Mila Harrison. She had beautiful brown hair with natural highlights. Her eyes would shine, even in the dimmest lighting, and she always tried to find a reason to smile. She loved music, especially her cello, and most of all, she loved me. I always had a short temper and uncaring attitude. It was hard for anyone outside of my family to get to know me. My attitude was enough to drive most people away. Mila was one of my girlfriends that stuck through it, and I ended up falling in love with her.
So if finding a girl was hard for me, and I loved Mila so much, why did I let her go? It was because I told her to. Three years ago, after we had been dating for four years, I came home late after many drinks. It was at the height of my temper problems, so I was extremely volatile at all times.
That night, I wanted to have sex with her. She didn’t, and kept refusing. Normally, it wouldn’t bother me, but I was drunk. I cussed at her and accused her of using me for money, cheating, and other terrible actions. When I think back to it, I realized that she tried so hard just let the comments go. It was hard for her though. That was when I told her to get out. I told her to leave the house that we shared at two in the morning when she was still in her pajamas. I even locked her out. I didn’t even have trouble sleeping. The next morning, I woke up with a hangover to knocking at my front door. It was Mila, wearing her friend’s clothes.
“I’m just here to pack up and leave. For good,” she said to me. Her eyes were puffy from crying, and I saw her friend glaring at me from her car.
I let her in and closed the door behind her. That’s when I turned to her and asked, “What do you mean?”
“Don’t you remember?” she asked bitterly. “You were the one who kicked me out in the morning. I had to call Hailey to pick me up and let me stay over until I could find somewhere else.”
The conversation came up again in my head, and I gave her an apologetic look, “Mila, I didn’t mean that. I’m sorry. I was drunk, and you know my temper.”
“I do,” she said, “But I can’t live with it anymore. I’ve tried so hard, and I love you, but last night… if that’s what I have to deal with, I don’t want to stay.”
I was shocked from what she said. “I love you, please don’t do this,” I begged her.
“Do you? Because what you said last night didn’t seem like it,” she said. I followed her from the living room to our bedroom.
“I didn’t mean any of that,” I told her.
“It still hurt,” she bit back. I could see the four years of the pain I caused show in her eyes. “Whenever you said something like that, I always told myself that you loved me and never meant it.”
“They hurt,” she interrupted. “This is a toxic relationship and we both know it. I was too stupid to realize it until now.”
“Mila,” I tried to say something.
That was her final sentence to me. She gathered some of her clothes and other valuable items she brought with her when she first moved in. I tried to talk to her, but she ignored me the entire time.
I stopped mid song and slouched over the piano. I never found another girl like her after that. Since then, I’ve been working on controlling my temper, and it’s been getting better. If only she could see me now. Sometimes, I still looked back at the photos we took when we were together. I remember a picture of me giving her a piggy back ride, back from when we first started dating. She was the one holding the camera and was smiling right at it. I was a little bent over, and I wasn’t even looking at the camera, but I seemed happy.
It had been a while since I last saw her. I was finally able to continue on without constantly thinking about that night. I was finally over her, and it felt like I was at peace.
Just then, Maximum, my German Sheppard, walked up to me, seeming a little jumpy. I looked at the clock and saw that it was around time for our evening walk. I grabbed his leash and his favourite ball, and he practically dragged me out. I kept him on a leash until we got to the park with a soccer field, where I let him run freely.
“Here,” I said, throwing the ball. I watched him chase after it. When he caught it, I waited for him to bring it back to me, but he looked off in a different direction. I knew what was coming next, and started sprinting towards him. Maximum, interested by something, or someone else, ran away, completely forgetting about the ball.
When I finally found him, he was on top of a human. I dragged him off, and started putting him back on his leash when the victim spoke. “He’s gotten a lot bigger from the last time I saw him.”
I looked up and came face to face with Mila, who was just sitting up.
“How’ve you been?” she asked somewhat nervously. She was probably waiting for my temper to explode.
“Good. And you?” I replied with a soft smile. It hurt a little to see Mila react to me with such anxiety.
She seemed surprised by my calm answer. “Good as well.”
Maximum surged forward again, but I managed to pull him away this time. “Maximum,” I scolded him. He whined, and tried to get close to Mila again. I stood and tried to keep him back, but Mila reached over and started petting him.
“It’s ok,” she said, staring lovingly at Maximum. We got him together, but I kept him after the breakup. It was clear that she missed him.
“He misses you,” I noted. I watched her play with him like she used to. Feelings I hadn’t felt in a long time were bubbling up again, and I wanted to say something else, but the little voice of reason kept me from blurting out something that would only make this more awkward for the two of us.
She stood up and faced me. “I should probably get back to Hailey’s house.”
“Do you live with her?” I asked, a little concerned, and definitely a little guilty.
“No, I’m staying over for tonight though. Her husband’s out of town so I thought we’d have a girls’ night,” she explained with a smile. “I live in a house on the other side of this city”
“You came out for your evening walk?” I asked. Mila would always force me to go out on walks with her in the evening. Although I always complained and tried to get out of going with her, I secretly enjoyed them, and it was always something to look forward to at the end of the day.
“You remembered?” she smiled.
“You thought that I’d forget?” I asked incredulously. She looked guilty, which, in turn, made me regret what I said. “I’m sorry,” I told her. “There’s a good reason as to why you’d think that.”
She just nodded, but didn’t say anything. The silenced stretched on for another moment before she spoke, “I’ll leave now. Uh, it was nice meeting you, good bye.”
“Wait, Mila,” I stopped her from leaving. I had believed that I was finally over her, but here she was in front of me again, and my heart rate was rising, my mouth was dry, and my mind was muddled. She turned and tilted her head, waiting for me to speak. “Would you like to go out for coffee sometime? Just to catch up.”
Mila smiled, and I grew hopeful. Then she shook her head, “Sorry, but I don’t think we should. Especially if this becomes something like we used to have.”
I was crushed, but I couldn’t deny her reasoning. “That’s fine. I should bring Maximum home,” I shrugged and walked off. Thankfully, Maximum followed me without trying to get back to Mila. It would’ve made walking away that much harder.
I hadn’t planned on seeing Mila again, and it was unlikely that we’d meet again, seeing she lived far away from me. After meeting me, I was also sure that she would start coming over to visit Hailey less often at her house.
It took a few days to lessen the impact of the meeting at the park, but I could no longer fool myself into thinking that I could forget her. I still wanted her, but now, it seemed like that was impossible.
Five months passed, and once again, I found myself sitting at a piano bench contemplating my life. Maximum and I just came back from a walk, and I was tired after a long day. I had already showered, and lazily decided not to put on pants or a shirt. It was late, and I was about to go to bed.
I let myself just sit there until the doorbell ring. Maximum jumped up and ran to the door. I was about to follow before realizing that I needed to find clothes. I quickly threw on a pair of jeans and ran downstairs.
The doorbell rang again, so I yelled, “Coming!”
I opened the door to see Mila with a wild look in her eyes, just standing there.
“I-I’m sorry I had to do this, but…” she trailed off, looking behind her. Curious, I looked down my street. There was no one there, from what I could see.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, worried for her.
“Can I come in?” she asked. “I’m scared.”
“Of course,” I had to hold Maximum back to let her in. When I closed the door, I looked out the window before pulling the curtain over it. There was still nothing in the street. I turned to ask her, “What’s going on?”
“I went to a bar a few weeks back, and met this guy there. He tried to give me his number, but I told him I didn’t want it, so he got really mad,” she started to say. “They had to escort him away.”
I was angry at the guy. For both trying to ask her out and for scaring her to the point where she felt the need to come to me. “Did he come after you again?”
She nodded. “I saw him walking up and down my street on my way home, from my walk,” she explained. “I never gave him my address, and I waited, but he still kept pacing in front of it.”
“So you came here?” I asked her. Both of us knew that she wouldn’t choose my house as the first choice for asylum.
“Hailey is on vacation right now, and my other friends are out partying somewhere,” she told me. Mila looked scared, like I might make her leave any moment.
“If you want, stay the night here, and I’ll drive you back tomorrow,” I told her.
“Thank you, and I’m sorry for dragging you into this,” she apologized.
“It’s fine, do you want to shower or anything while I get some sheets?” I asked.
She was staring out the only open window, and I had to repeat the question, “He just walked down this street.”
I stilled. Quickly, I closed the blinds. And peeked out a little crack to see this man. I saw him pause and look at my house. I pulled away and beckoned her to follow me to the living room.
“Stay away from the front room. The windows here are closed, and no one will come this far into the house,” I told her. She nodded but still looked terrified. I retrieved a towel and a change of clothes for her, and showed her the door to the bathroom. “I’ll be right back.” Maximum curled up beside her on the couch.
Just as I left that room, there was a knock on my door. I had a feeling I knew who it was.
“Hello?” I greeted the man I saw outside my house earlier. “What can I help you with?”
It was clear that he was drunk. He could barely stand up straight, and he reeked of alcohol.
“I saw my girlfriend in your house,” he slurred.
“Oh really? I don’t know who you’re talking about,” I casually replied.
“Fuck you, that girl sitting on your couch was my lover,” he got up close to my face. He was around my size, so I couldn’t intimidate him on looks alone. Mila would disapprove of a fight anyways.
“That girl? She’s my friend, and I’ve never heard of you before anyways, so you can’t be her boyfriend,” I answered.
“You fucking liar!” he shouted at me. He tried to push into my house, but I pushed him back.
“Look, I don’t want to start anything now, it’s nearly eleven at night, and you’re already drunk, just go home,” I said.
His face turned redder. Then he swung at me, making solid contact even though he was drunk. I recoiled a bit, touching the place where he hit me.
“Get out of my way,” he commanded. I felt rage build up like it did when I lost my temper.
“I’m warning you now, get off of my doorstep,” I growled.
“No way, she’s mine!” he yelled. It echoed down the street
That was it. I swung at him. I wasn’t drunk, so I packed more force in my blow. He fell onto the ground, holding his nose, which started bleeding. Dragging him up by his collar, I pinned him against a wall and leaned in close.
“Look,” I said in a deceptively calm voice. “I don’t want to keep fighting a drunk guy who will lose. Go home, stay away from me, and stay away from my friend. If I see you near her again, I will make sure you get more than just a bloody nose.”
With that I let go, and he fell down again. I watched him scramble onto his legs and run away. Satisfied, I closed the door and walked back in to talk with Mila.
When I entered the room, I saw her curled up on the couch with Maximum lying on her. She had changed into the clothes I gave her, and her hair was wet. I leaned against the doorframe and watched her sleep. Finally, I started feeling the punch I took and went to the bathroom to look at it. He had hit me along my jaw, and I saw a bruise starting to form. Nothing too bad, I thought to myself.
As quietly as I could, I got Maximum off of Mila and he walked off to his own bed. I carried Mila to my bedroom, where by bed was already made. I awkwardly moved the comforter aside and placed her on the mattress. I covered her, and was about to walk out when she woke up.
“What happened?” she asked.
“Nothing much. I told him to leave you alone,” I answered.
She looked at my face and noted my bruise, “You two fought?”
“Traded a single punch, but he was drunk,” I explained, walking back to her.
She was sitting up now and examined it herself.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
Confused, I asked, “For what?”
“For dragging you into this, for being such an inconvenience,” she started to say.
I just smirked and interrupted her, “I’d rather you drag me into this than someone else, and you will never be an inconvenience to me.”
“I’m still sorry. I promise you won’t have to deal with my problems again.”
That made me a little concerned for her. “What if I want to solve your problems?” I asked, giving her a serious look.
She seemed to study me, “You’ve changed.”
“For the better?” I smiled
Completely serious, she answered, “For the better.”
My smile got wider. “Good, then it was all worth it,” I told her. She smiled back, and I took the opportunity to lean in and kiss her.
She tensed up, but slowly relaxed and kissed me back. When she finally stopped it, I was holding her around the waist, and her hands were on my shoulders.
“Mila,” I started to say.
She already knew what I was about to tell her, “I’ve missed you too.”