Heartbreaker

I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said “love is blind”. Now that is something I know to be true. For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there’s another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims.

It’s called unrequited love.

Of that I am an expert.

-Iris ( played by Kate Winslet)- The Holiday.

*****

Aaron’s  Chucks slapped against the pavement as he tore down the street.   A tiny part of his mind  told him that maybe taking a car would have been a smarter idea, but then he remembered he lived New York  City- the crowned kingdom of bumper to bumper traffic- and running on foot would still get him around faster.

I could have taken one of the bikes,’ but his mind was so focused on one thing at the moment that he didn’t think about it;  and right now thinking would have made him use up time Aaron was afraid he didn’t have.  He just wished he could run faster.

The  dark sky above him rumbled , the dark grey clouds reflecting off the shinny glass windows of the sky scrappers that reached for the sky like jagged pillars.  The air smelled heavy of rain, and was almost a physical manifestation of the storm that was starting to build in him.

‘I’m not going to make it in time.’ ,He thought desperately as put on another burst of speed,  ‘Why.. why did she decide too –

At the moment the clouds burst open and rain began to poor down like the memories of what just happened less than  twenty minuets ago.

Aaron stared at the empty room. His mind had gone blank, unable to process what he was seeing.  It couldn’t be real: he  could’ve sworn that  just hours ago  that the desk against the wall was covered in sketch books, gaming magazines, drawing stuff, CDs,  a laptop and a portable i-pod stereo that always had a cobalt blue ipod nano in it. The arched gothic bay windows had been open , letting in the humid summer air, and the sheets  of the bed had been crumpled up from someone tossing and turning in their sleep, the closet and drawers had clothes in them, and a messenger bag and a duffle bag had been at the foot of the bed.

He could have sworn just  hours ago the room had been filled with music of , full of  warmth and smelled like a  rain kissed garden at twilight.

But now the bed was made , the clutter gone, and it as  felt cold and empty as a tomb.  It was like no one had been living in the room at all.  The only thing that was different was the  hand-made bracelet with the white crystal flower-charm laying on the table.

Aaron staggered against the doorway and the plastic bag he had been holding slipped from this limp fingers; spilling Kit-Kat bars,pocky and Japanese jello-shots across the hardwood floor. He was numb.

“Aaron?”

The black haired teen turned his head and saw Hana standing in the hall behind him.  She looked worried, her green eyes looked too big for her face and made her seem younger than she really was.   “Where is she?”  He demanded,  trying to keep his emotions  in check and keep clam. He wasn’t going to become emotional, he was going to keep his cool like always. 

Hana looked at him apologetically and for the first time in a very long time -Aaron hated her again.  She then said , point blank,  “Laurel left, Aaron.”

As soon as Penn Station came into view, Aaron put on another burst of speed and practically flew down the stairs. He raced through the terminal, almost slipping a few times from the water that dripped from his clothes  as he headed to the Philadelphia platform.

He skidded to a halt when he reached  the double heavy and ornate bronze doors ,and for the second time in less than an hour was struck dumb when he saw Chris leaning against the railing that led down to the platform. As always his boyfriend was dressed to impress; a crisp white, button up shirt with the selves folded neatly up to the elbows,  a navy blue vest over it ,  paired with a lose black tie and dark fitted jeans  . He looked at Aaron, his expression aloof as ever,  and jerked his head in the direction of the stairs, “ She called and asked me to bring her here. Go on.”

Aaron nodded and headed for the steps, his chucks slapping wetly against the marble as he took them down to the surprisingly empty platform.  Usually the place would be packed. A speaker binged on over head and the computer sounding voice echoed  around the deserted tracks  ; “ The amtrak  line from New York to Washington will be arriving at 5:45. All passengers please board at platform 3. The amtrak line from New York to Washington will arriving at 5:45. All passengers please board at platform 3…..”

The only figure on the platform was sitting on a bench with a patch-plastered messenger bag beside her and a red and white duffle back emblazon with a large “P” at her feet.  She had long layered mouse brown hair that brushed her shoulders and was wearing jeans , a simple white and grey striped tank top, and classic blank and white chucks with red laces.  She was looking quietly ahead at the mosaic covered wall of the tunnel. Aaron let out the breath he had been holding since he left the boarding house, I made it.

 “Laurel!”

The girl’s head whipped up, but Aaron didn’t register the color drain from her face “A-Aaron?”, She stumbled to her feet just as Aaron reached her and stared up at him with wide mis-matched eyes; the left one forest green and the right one ocean blue which her short side swept bangs fell into.   Her gaze then swept over his dripping body and to the puddle that was starting to form around him. “You’re wet!”

Aaron ignored her , his chest huffing up and down  as he tried to catch his breath, and bluntly asked. “Why?”

Laurel dropped her gaze to her feet and Aaron hardly heard her,  “ I’m going back to Philly.”

“What? But I thought you were going to be here till the end of the summer! What happened? You begged your brother to let you stay – what changed Laurel? Is it Jake?  He picks on everybody, that’s just his way of showing you he likes you. ”, He  half joked.

He was confused, Laurel was a surprise no one had really expected. An outsider who showed up at the   summer art program he and the rest of his friends were taking as  a prerequisite to college. Someone who didn’t come from a fancy new york family , and actually worked to earn her spot in the program.   What was even  more surprising was the way Aaron quickly grew attached to her, it even surprised himself.   Aaron went from being annoyed that he had to be the one to show her around, to now not even being able to picture the people he was closest too with out her.

Laurel was as important to him as Layla, Jake and even Chris.

She’s become my best friend. She had become what Seph was to Hana for him.  “Why are you doing this?”

Laurel still didn’t look at him. “ Because I have to,Aaron.”

“Have too?!” He echoed, shocked that he still sounded calm,  because on the inside he was starting to panic, unravel  ‘ Throw her over you shoulder and drag her back! Tie her up!  Get on you knees and beg! Knock her out! DO SOMETHING! ANYTHI-‘

But his inner self stopped screaming demands when Laurel finally looked at him and he realized something. “ You look tired.”

Laurel half- laughed, a sound that sounded more bitter than they crystal-like quality her voice  usually possessed,   “I am tired. I’m tried of lying to myself..lying to you.”

Aaron blinked. “What do you mean?”  The slightly younger girl looked at him sadly, and Aaron could the see defeated look in her eyes ; but it was the honorable type of defeat a noble lady would have when staring a unavoidable defeat in the eye,  “ We both know what you want is different than what I want, and … either way, neither of us will be happy.” Her eyes slid past him and steadily met the gaze of whoever was behind him. “ I never stood a chance anyway.” She laughed and gave a watery smile, and that was when  Aaron  really did realized the reality of the situation.

Laurel really was like his “Seph”; the best friend who was in love with someone who would never really return their feelings.

The Amtrak line from New york to Washington has arrived. All passengers please board at platform 3. The Amtrak line from New york to Washington has arrived. All passengers please board  at platform 3.’

The station filled with an echoing ,thundering roll as the train screeched into the station., “ I have to go.” She slung  her messenger bag onto her shoulder  and picked up her duffle bag before smiling at them, but Aaron knew it was fake.  Her smile always made her eyes light up.  “ Well, time to go. Thanks for the ride, Chris.” She said sincerely, no bitterness or resentment in her voice.

Chris shrugged. “ Not a problem, just remember to send me something form South Street and I’ll consider my fee paid.”

Before she could take a step, Aaron  reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders. “ Laurel.”, He begged. His control had broken, and now his desperation and fear was let loose. It felt like everything was falling through his fingers.

He hated her steady gaze. Did she have to look like such an ‘Old-soul’?! But then he felt her shaking, and realized that she had been controlling herself the entire time as well.   Then she was looking at his hand, and the handwoven bracelet with the crystal laurel flower charm. She broke her gaze away from him.

“Don’t.” She said firmly, “ Don’t do this. It’s not fair.

Laurel twisted out of his grip and took a step back towards the train.  “ We both know I have to fall out of love with you, Aaron. It be nice if you let me try.”

—Sara Wiley