alone at the party. | Ang Cruz

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Sometimes she thinks she can still feel him.

It’s the quiet moments that make Ryan wonder what her life would be like if he were still around. It had been two years since she’d found Trevor, and yet his presence wrapped around her, like a blanket but also like a chokehold.

She struggled to light the cigarette in between her fingers. It was hard to pinpoint if the drugs or her nerves made her hands so shaky. But Ryan was too focused on the task to think too much about it.

Let me.”

The sound of his voice grabbed her attention instantly. Too many times had she looked up to find no one there, and yet Ryan was willing to risk the heartbreak every time.

But this time, he was there. Her expression softened instantly once she gazed into her ex-fiance’s honey eyes, his long brown hair tousled like it always was given his refusal to brush it every morning. She watched as his fingers, still wearing the chipped black nail polish she remembered his mother requesting be removed for the funeral, gently grab her lighter and hold it steady for her.

She lit the cigarette and waited for him to fade away like he always did when she was in this position. It was almost as if the same thing that was supposed to distract her from thinking about him also managed to tease her of a future that would never come to fruition.

You’re not going to say anything to me, Ry?”

He smirked. She blew a cloud of smoke in his direction and focused on his details. The bags under his eyes, the way his smile was both bright and tired at the same time. Unlike every other time she saw him, where he was wearing the clothes she last saw him in, Trevor was wearing a pair of ripped black jeans, his dirty white converse, and a t-shirt from when they went to see his favorite band. She still couldn’t listen to Rilo Kiley without feeling sick to her stomach.

“I wish you’d just disappear already.” She said finally, instantly regretting the words as soon they left their mouth. Ryan turned away from him, anticipating Trevor to leave again only to feel the weight of his hand on her shoulder.

Is that really how you want to spend this time together?”

His reply felt like fighting words. Something physically snapped inside of her. She dropped her cigarette, put it out with the heel of her boot, then lunged forward.

“I fucking hate you!” Ryan yelled, balling her hands into two small fists. She threw the first punch at his chest. Then another. Then another. Then another. Despite feeling the brunt of her anger, she couldn’t help but notice Trevor was still looking at her. His smirk felt like a taunt.

You finished?”

The dark-haired girl huffed at his quip. She unclenched her fists and took a step back, sucking in a breath before grabbing another cigarette from the carton in her back pocket. Less shaky this time, Ryan placed it in between her lips before lighting it.

She smoked in silence for a minute, her eyes gazing at her former lover. Even after several years, it felt as if no time had passed. A simple smile was an entire conversation between them. It hit her that it’d been so long since Ryan felt like she was back home like this.

She pressed her side against the roof’s ledge. The young man leaned forward, and Ryan felt her breath get caught in her throat as he did. But she remained in her spot, her body pleading for his touch despite her holding herself back.

Do you really hate me?” Trevor asked her, voice soft.

“I don’t think I can ever hate you.” She admitted. Trevor took another step forward as Ryan felt his hand reach over to hold her face, and Ryan instinctively leaned into his palm. She still fit perfectly.

I know. You’re really fucking dramatic, you know that? Trevor hummed, the comment making Ryan laugh instantly. “You know I won’t be here all night.”

She nodded feeling knots tie in her stomach. Ryan had anticipated him to leave at an earlier point during their conversation, and yet Trevor remained. Still, it felt like a cruel joke having him be the one to tell her about his own demise.

I’m here for a reason though.” She felt his thumb stroke her cheek. “Tell me what that is.”

Ryan paused for a minute as she thought about his request. She tilted her head to press a kiss to his palm. “I missed you.”

He rolled his eyes. “Don’t bullshit me, Ry. You know the real reason.”

Her gaze softened immediately, and suddenly she was vulnerable. Her toughest layer had peeled off, and Ryan felt raw. She hesitated for a moment, unsure if she could even speak into existence what she really wanted from Trevor at that moment. Rarely was she ever afraid to speak her mind, but he was always a sore spot for her.

“I think… I want to move on from you,” Ryan admitted. She waited for a reaction from Trevor. Part of her wished this was real and that he could be angry with her – she was willing to fight with him a thousand and one more times if it meant he’d be back in her life. But instead, he simply nodded, giving her the sign to keep going. “I feel like I’ve been holding myself back from just living my life.”

She avoided his eyes for a moment, feeling tears swell up as she wiped them with the back of her hand. Ryan felt the gentle touch of her former lover as he pressed his thumb against her cheek.

“Every time something good happens to me, I can’t stop but think what it would be like if you were here with me.” She reached over to grab his wrist, pressing his hand onto her face as her voice quivered. “ I think about every milestone we would experience together. I think about our little future together. I see you everywhere and feel so selfish for wanting to experience these things with someone who isn’t you. But I don’t… I don’t think I can keep living this way.”

Ryan felt her breath quicken as she spoke. Her chest beat loudly and fast as she tried to level herself. She shakily lifted the cigarette to her lips, then took a hit to calm her nerves.

“Trev,” she whispered. The dark-haired girl felt small for a moment. She couldn’t remember the last time she had said his name. She looked up at him through her eyelashes, her hands reaching to hold his face as she did. “Can I ask you something?”

He nodded.

“I just need you to tell me, would it be okay if I moved on?”

The weight of her question left her breathless. But Ryan was desperate. She searched for Trevor’s answer through his expression. The brunette man’s face was blank but still smiling. His honey eyes feigned no reaction, and his lips curved slightly upward. Every second felt longer than the last, but Ryan needed to hear his reply.

Rather than saying anything, Ryan watched as Trevor leaned forward and gently held her by her jaw. He tilted her head slightly upward so he could gaze at her. She felt her breath hitch as she felt the warmth of his lips on the left corner of her mouth.

She closed her eyes for a moment to soak in the feeling. As much as she wanted to hold herself back from aching for him, Ryan’s body was desperate for more. Her hands maneuvered themselves into a position that was habitual, ready to fit Trevor’s body like a lock and key.

But he was already gone. She opened her eyes half-full hopeful but ended up half-empty once she realized she was alone again. Ryan looked at the space where Trevor once stood.

There was no point in staying upset, she figured. Ryan put the cigarette back in between her lips and took a hit, blowing the smoke out at the sky. With the back of her hand, she wiped the left corner of her mouth, then returned to her party alone.

Ang Cruz (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and lavender latte enthusiast based in Southern California. Follow them at @angdidthat on all platforms.

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