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like o, like h, in your gut

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1. imagine me there, my heart asleep with no air

It's strange to be taking the train back home after ten years away. To be taking a train at all, in fact, because in America she'd flown everywhere, and the rolling countryside in front of the windows had become only a dim memory. But this is where she was born and raised, and even ten years away hasn't made any of it less natural, innate.

She just hadn't expected to come back in such a decisive manner. She'd gone to America with her mum after the divorce, and she'd continued into uni there after high school.

He had been nothing she'd expected.

*

He'd rushed in late after the beginning of chem lab. The seat beside her was the only one still open, and he had taken it, shooting her an apologetic smile. She smiled back hesitantly.

She remembers that he wore a flannel shirt that first day.

*

She's a continent away now, back in the Old World, and she remembers, near the beginning of the end, how she had told him that he was welcome to hop on a plane and visit her whenever he wanted.

He can't do that now. Or, he could, because he wouldn't need to get a visa, but he'd have to factor in losing a non-trivial number of hours, jet lag, and exchanging currency beforehand. It's not quite the same, and if he didn't take her offer when they had still been in the same country, she can't see him taking her offer now.

*

She had been determined to keep her accent, and she did.

He had assumed she was a foreign exchange student.

It starts with his offer to show her around town while she's there.

*

The lack of knowing had driven her mad, and at the end, she had wanted to stay in bed all day and just sleep the days away. Then, she had gotten the the letter from her dad.

She wants the ocean between them to help her forget.

She wants to hear him actually say 'no', not just merely say it in his actions.

 

2. all eyes are on me now

He wishes she could see into his mind, because he doesn't know how to explain it himself. He's tried for years, but he can only ever give another person a partial understanding of the person he is.

*

His first therapist had told him that he would never be able to truly love someone.

He'd found himself with a new therapist soon after that, but the words remained with him.

*

He loves her. He had known when she turned to him at a concert, hair in a disarray and smile brighter than the lights illuminating the stage.

He's afraid he can't ever love her in the way she deserves to be loved.

*

She told him to hop on a plane and come see her whenever he felt like it. He'd said he would, even as he knew he wouldn't. Couldn't. But he couldn't tell the truth, either.

He thinks about calling her, but it gets harder and harder to actually pick up the phone and do it the longer it gets.

He thinks, If only I could open my heart for you to see.

*

He learns from Facebook that she's gone back to the UK.

He wants to write her a letter to explain, but he doesn't know if it would be worth anything at this point.

He doesn't want to put himself out in this way, so he doesn't.

*

It's not actually a rejection, but he can't help feeling like it is one.

He knows he'll feel this loss for the rest of his life.

He deserves it, maybe.

He wishes he knew how to not mess up like this.

He wishes he knew how to let people understand so he wouldn't mess up like this.

 

3. maybe i would have been something you'd be good at

Her old friends throw her a welcome back party, and she gets pissed beyond belief.

She realizes, the next afternoon, that she had sent him a Facebook message while she was pissed.

She had finally demanded for him to just say what he has meant all along.

She can't bring herself to regret it. After all that she's gone through because of him, she deserves this.

*

Time goes on.

Life continues.

She's made her change of location, decided to come back to the beginning and start anew, and she is determined to start everything over. That's the way these things work.

It begins to matter less and less.

She begins to think of it as a missed opportunity. Nothing just ever came together, she tells people.

*

She doesn't get a reply. She's not surprised, and she thinks that if the rejection ever comes, she won't even be sad about it then. The non-answer she's been left with is equal to a break-up call, anyway, as far as she's concerned. She's already gone through the process. There's nothing left for another time when it comes to him.

She doesn't dwell on it, though, in case she begins to question the things she had written in that message that had been designed to hurt him.

 

4. don't forget a million miles for me

He thinks that even though he's brilliant, he always makes the same sort of mistakes like this.

*

The message hurts, but he thinks, I did it to myself first.

Except he can't stop thinking about it, and her. Like a blade cutting into flesh, and he thinks, adding salt to the wound. He knows what he should do, always, and yet he rarely meets that.

He needed her, yet he couldn't give her what she needed.

He needs her still, but he didn't give her enough to keep her with him.

It's expected, it's the way he so often hurt the people he love, and yet, it hurts him, still.

It haunts him, and he begins to look forward to the times when sleep takes the mess away, if only for a short while.

*

He's gone fifty hours straight without sleep, stuck in another insomniac spell, and he can't stop thinking about her. With bone-deep weariness behind his eyes, he types a message to her.

Then he gets into bed and waits for sleep to claim him.