I stood there looking at his back. His broad shoulders were slumped, his strides heavy and lacking the joy they usually have. I knew just by looking at his figure from behind, that he didn’t want this to happen. And neither did I, if only he could see from the unshed tears on my eyes or the way I bit my lips hard enough to draw blood just to stop myself form calling out his name. We both didn’t want this to happen, but it was too tiring for us to continue. I just hoped that he didn’t stop walking and turned, because if he did, I didn’t know if I could maintain a straight face. One of us needed to put an end to this and if he didn’t want to, I would be the one to do it. I must. I blinked and a single tear ran down my cheek. I wiped it away quickly, afraid that someone would see behind my carefully crafted mask of indifference. After some long minutes had passed, he finally disappeared from my sight and my wish was granted, he didn’t turn back even once.
“Do you think this is the right thing to do?” a voice came from behind the spot where I stood frozen, still looking at the road where I last saw him. The voice brought a memory of home and comfort, so I doubled my effort to hold back my tears. I didn’t want to break down in front of this guy. He was my best friend, but I didn’t want anyone to see me so vulnerable. When I was alone though…
I took a deep breath before answering, “Yes it is.” I didn’t turn my body. I kept my tears in check but I didn’t trust myself to not lose it if I saw his face. I knew he would be there for me and helped me get through this, but I didn’t want him to.
“Are you sure? It surely doesn’t look like it from where I’m standing,” he scoffed softly. He knew me too well and that realization made me crack a little smile.
“I’m sure. It’s for the best.” I said. I didn’t know if it was meant to reassure him or myself, because I thought I choked a bit at the end.
I could hear him sigh and even though I couldn’t see him right now, I knew he would be scratching his head furiously; a habit he developed when he got so frustrated with things — mostly me. Another small smile was on my lips without my consent. He always had that effect on me. His presence only could lighten up even my darkest days. And this one was surely dark enough for me to need any sort of relief and happiness he could offer.
“Well, if you’re sure.”
“I’m sure.” I nodded and I could hear him sigh once again.
“So? What now?”
“I don’t know. Go home, I guess?” I could feel the tightening on my chest subsided gradually and the hot tears lurking in my eyes was drying. I knew that I could face him now without any risk of breaking down. That heart-wrenching ache was only a dull pain now. The most that I could feel was emptiness. Dull and empty. In a way, it was a better combination than being so heartbroken I couldn’t function at all. So, after making sure that I succeeded in keeping my emotions in check, I turned and faced my best friend.
“Let’s go,” I said with a hint of a smile.
He looked at me weirdly for a bit and my smile wavered. Both he and I knew that I wasn’t fooling anyone with my act, but I thought he would be smart enough to at least pretend. But he walked towards me and enveloped me in his arms. I felt the hot tears welling up so quickly, I choked back a gasp. I could feel them escaping through my tightly closed lids and wetting my previously dry cheeks. Soon, it turned into sobs and I couldn’t hold it anymore, I hugged him back as tightly as I could and cried in his arms. I didn’t care that he would make a fuss later because I just dirtied his clothes with my tears and snot, because he started this. I was ready to just wallow in self-pity and holed up in my own room, moping around for a day or two without involving him, but he just had to do this.
“Sorry,” he said softly while stroking my hair. “I know you’ll be pissed at me later for not pretending to fall for your crappy acting, but bear with me for now and just cry your stupid eyes out, okay.”
A laugh bubbled up my chest without my control. He just had a crappy way of delivering encouragement. He wasn’t one with too many words, I knew, and he didn’t show that he cared often but he did care, deeply. Even his hug was awkward and his hands on my hair was stuttered like they didn’t know what to do there. They kept getting tangled on my locks which caused me to laugh even more.
“You’re crappy,” I bit back amidst the laughter still bubbling uncontrollably from my chest. But I felt lighter than ever before.
“What?” he sounded offended, so I punched his chest hard enough to make him flinch. “Ouch! That hurt, you idiot. This is what I get for trying to comfort you after you get your heart broken, huh? Some friends you are.”
“Oh shut it. It wasn’t that hard. Besides, I need you to stop trying to rip out my hair, you know. It’s starting to hurt my scalp.”
“Hey!” he shouted, really offended now.
I smiled at him gently and our banter stopped, the atmosphere turned quieter, more serious. “Thanks,” I said. And I meant it. “For everything.”
He sighed. “You know, when you chose him and said that we’re better off as friends years ago, I never thought that I’m going to be standing here and watching you get all emo for breaking up with him,” he said softly.
I gave him a small smile and a gentle punch on his arm. “I know. I didn’t know it either. I’m not some prophet, you know. But I was right about one thing,” I said, grabbing his hand and linked it with mine.
“What?” he asked, brows furrowing.
I laughed at his face. “That we’re better as friends, you idiot.”
And I rumpled his carefully styled hair so hard before running away at his indignant yell, all while laughing so hard at his antics. I didn’t think I was as heartbroken as before now. Not when I have him by my side.