“Thank you,” she said as her lips curled up in a smile to mask her breaking heart. He smiled an accomplished smile, as if he’d bought her the best Valentine’s Day present ever.
It was 2013, one week after Valentine’s Day, and they were sitting on his bed in the lone room he occupied in his parents’ basement. He’d just handed her a rose coloured card, with grey lettering that read; THANK YOU. Inside, he detailed his appreciation for their friendship and how grateful he was to have her in his life. It’s like a mustard seed and we can water it to grow into something beautiful.
“So where are my chocolates?” She hoped the sweetness might help with the sour taste in her mouth. “Oh I’m sorry, my sister ate them,” he said almost laughing. “I told you to come get them sooner. You should have listened to me.”
“You let your sister eat my chocolates? You bought them for me, for valentines day. You should have hidden them better.” She looked at him and smiled. It was all she could do to keep the tears at bay for just a little bit longer; at least until a few more hours when she’d be in her bed with only her pillow to judge her.
They’d been dating for 6 months. And even after all this time, he still couldn’t love her. What hurt the most was that she nurtured him. She ran to his side at every beckon, opened up and poured – gave – herself to him. Yet, here he was, saying thank you?
Their romance had started like a passionate wild fire. Six months ago, when she’d walked into a room at their community college and seen that tall glass of chocolate milk, she couldn’t resist the chemistry that sizzled every time they locked eyes. He was tall, dark and handsome, and that night was spent chatting over Skype. He was smart, driven and very ambitious, so she fell. Hard. Within a week, they were dating. Discreetly. His idea.
“I think I’m starting to fall in love with you.” They were sitting in his car, barely three weeks into their romance. “I know it’s a little soon, but I’m one to wear my heart on my sleeve and I believe you should know where I stand.” When she’d said those words, she hadn’t had any agenda. She wasn’t expecting a reciprocation of her feelings. She simply needed to let him know her heart.
“I love that you feel that way. But you see, the thing is, I just got out of a serious relationship about a year ago. We’d been dating for two years and she cheated on me.” She watched him with a mix of pity, and love. “I’m still a little broken from that” he continued. “I need some time to get my heart right. Can we just enjoy being ourselves the way we are right now?” She held him and replied “Ofcourse!”
Now it all made sense. He was never going to love her wholly. The discretion, the request for time to heal from a breakup which happened over one year ago, (if at all). The signs she’d missed were now on replay in her mind, weighing her down with hurt. “Walk me to the bus stop please?” She had to go home. Now.
“What’s wrong?” 10 minutes into their walk, he’d finally noticed something was amiss. “Nothing.” She replied, biting her lower lip. The tears couldn’t stay buried any more so she closed her eyes as they came streaming down.
“You gave me a Thank You card. For Valentines’ Day!”
“Oh my God. And here I was thinking you’d love it,” he said, sounding completely flabbergasted by her apparently inconceivable reaction.
“Why would you think that? I told you I love you. I gave you my heart and everything else. A Thank You card? I want love, not appreciation,” she said in a firm but low voice as she felt herself shaking from the pain.
“I didn’t realize…”
Nothing he said after that made any sense to her. Her heart had come to the realization that she deserved to be loved wholly and not for convenience. This was never going anywhere. They were never meant to be.