“Are you ready?” Camilla looked at me with soft blue eyes. They were the eyes that could tell a thousand stories and hold a thousand secrets. I tried to hold her gaze, but my eyes kept falling on the cold, unforgiving sidewalk. I stood there as still as a statue as I considered the options before me. I had a decision to make and neither outcome seemed particularly desirable.
The wind was cool against my face. Fluorescent lights were splashed across a dark blue sky. My neighborhood was quiet. From the looks of it, I was sure that most everyone had gone to bed. Some houses still had lights on, the yellowish glow seeping ominously through the curtains. People always seem to be uncomfortable in dark or dimly lit areas. It’s that fear of the unknown that grips you and doesn’t let go.
Camilla was still standing next to me. She was looking at me with that look that only she could pull off, a look of patient urgency. God, she was beautiful. She had long blonde, smooth blue eyes, and a radiant white smile. Her lips were thin and soft. I remember how our first kiss felt. It was indescribably passionate. I hate clichés, but I have to say that my love for her made me delirious. I never wanted to let go of her. I never wanted to feel her touch slip away. People have said that I was in a honeymoon phase that would dissipate over time, but I didn’t see that happening. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t one of those jealous or unbearably clingy boyfriends. I respected her space. But when I was with her physically, her hand in mind, I felt like the weight of the world completely lift off me.
I had to make my decision quickly. Time was running out. Camilla would be patient with me. I knew that. But she wouldn’t wait forever. My throat felt dry, my body felt hot. Sweat started beading across my forehead. What the hell was going on? I felt lightheaded. I reached out and took her hands in mine and I looked deeply into her eyes, wishing as hard as I could that reality would vanish before my eyes. A person could get lost in her eyes. I held on to her tightly as if she were the only thing keeping my upright. Camilla looked back into mine with a sense of understanding. It seemed to me that she was almost always able to read my mind. There was no way to hide any secret from her…there was no reason to hide anything from her.
“Are you okay?” She slid her fingers around mine and held on firmly. A little smile escaped her lips. Her eyes sparkled in the moonlight. I could tell she knew that I wasn’t okay, that something was tugging at my heart and yanking it up through my throat like a fish hooked on a line. She didn’t treat my like a kid. If I was hesitant to share my feelings with her, she wouldn’t push the matter. She knew that I would talk with her when I was ready. And I always did. I trusted her to do the same. It worked well between us. This wasn’t one of those times for me. I had to tell her, but how?
Her eyes were still locked on mine. I felt my resolve weaken. My head dropped in shame, and I muttered under my breath, “I am not sure if I can do it.”
I felt her hands squeeze tighter around mine. She placed her thin finger underneath my chin and gently lifted my head up to face her again. Her expression said everything, but she still spoke in a soothing voice, “You don’t have to go with me. You know I love you, and I always will.”
I felt the tears start to sting. “I want to go with you. I really do.”
She cupped me head in her arms, “Then come with me.”
“And go where?”
She paused for a moment. I felt her grip release from my hands. “My aunt and uncle in Missouri said they’d take me. I just can’t take it anymore, staying in my house right now is pure torture.”
“I know.” And I did. Camilla, as perfect as she was in my opinion, shared a house with an alcoholic father and an absent mother. I’ll never forget the day when I saw her at school with bruises all over her arm. She told everyone that she fell down the stairs, but she told me the truth when I pressed her for it. Camilla has an older brother (step-brother) from her mother’s previous marriage, but he left when he was eighteen and never came back. Somehow she’s always managed to have a positive outlook on life. I think her religion and her friendships helped her cope with her home life. On days that would get particularly bad, she’d confide in me, and I would hold her as close as I could.
This wasn’t the first time she’s talked about running away from home. Every time the idea comes to mind, she would sit down with me and talk about her plans, but she never went through with them. Something kept holding her back. She insists that it won’t be permanent, that she would only go for a few weeks and then come back. Honestly, I never saw the logic in that. I’d be worried that her parents would be extra mad when she would get home. Camilla didn’t agree. She believers that her parents would miss her or even notice her absence. I’m not quite so sure that would be the case.
However, this time was different. I had a gut-wrenching feeling that her running away would be permanent, that she’d never come back. Either that or she’d be gone a very long time, months or longer. I really did want to go with her. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. But running away from my home would not be the same scenario. There’d be no way to convince them to let me go to Missouri to be with my girlfriend. And if I leave without telling them, they’d be worried to death and I couldn’t do that to them or to my two younger sisters. Even if I called them after I was far away from home so that they wouldn’t worry, they’d be sure to come pick me up. I don’t even want to think about the punishments that I would have to endure.
But my mind came back to Camilla. My beautiful Camilla. Why did she have to put me through this? There has never been someone that I cared for more than her. We’ve been together for five years. We’ve been through a lot in that five years too. There’s a chance that a long-distance relationship could be possible, but do I really want to be that far away from her? There’s no timeline here, no way of knowing when she will be back, if she even decides to come back. From what she’s told me about her aunt and uncle, they’d be thrilled to have her with them as they were never able to have kids of their own.
There’s a chance this may not be goodbye…but there’s a chance it will be. What do I do? I find the courage deep within to look her in the eyes. Tears were now streaming down her face. Both of us didn’t want to leave each other’s side. I wiped the tears from her cheeks with my thumb. Holding her head in my heads, I leaned in closely and gave her a long kiss. Although I could our lips quivering, she was still warm against me. I slowly pulled my lips away from her and held her in my arms as long as I could. I think I made my decision. I looked deeply into her blue eyes, which seemed to give me strength.
She asked me again, “Are you ready?”