Perched on the sofa in his darkly lit apartment, Joseph took a swig of his cold beer.
Observing her dance today had opened his eyes once again, peering back into the several memories of just him and her. He hated it. Despised that it was a part of his past, a piece of him he would never get back.
She was incessantly burned into his brain. Her doe brown eyes shone with excitement and she twirled around in the studio, her dress trailing behind her. Tendrils of her lush hair framed her face, and Joseph’s thoughts wandered away. A beautiful smile graced her face. She was bent gracefully into her plié, jumping onto her toes. As she twirled, her eyes caught Joseph’s, and her brows settled into a gentle frown. Their eyes were set on one another as she tilted into an arabesque, sweat forming on her forehead. She seemed close to losing control, her legs shaking as she jumped into a rélévé. Strangely, that made Joesph break into a smile. He still had an effect on her.
Glancing away, she continued. Joseph’s heart was in his throat as he looked down, his smile evaporating.
He couldn’t gaze at her any longer. How could he, when she pretended like he didn’t exist?
Yet, he looked. And she had gone off again, running into a pirouette, her back arching. Joseph could hear the intake of breath from the dancers around him as she sprang into a jété. His heart hammered as he watched on. She was radiant; a light in his life and the flame that made him brought him back to life.
Which had now been extinguished.
She leapt and landed in another plié, ending her routine. Applause rang through the air as she bowed, the top of her head nearly touching the floor. Joseph glanced at Madame Bangère, an unusual smile forming on her face. Cordelia rose from her stance. And Joseph, unable to regard any longer, strode to the nearest exit and left. He could feel Cordelia’s eyes burn into the back of his skull, yet he couldn’t get himself to turn around.
Rushing out of the building, he fisted his hands into his trousers. The facade of cool indifference and arrogance had long dissipated from his face, abandoning him to his thoughts.
He had to get away.
Staying anywhere closer to her would resurrect all those memories he spent months trying to push down. Push until they wouldn’t agonise him anymore. He couldn’t bear the heartache. So he left, rushing to the nearest bar. Pacing into Joe’s Gift, he perched on the seat at the counter, head in his hands. All the memories were rushing back, and he had no clue how he would stop it. Ordering a drink, he gazed at the room, staring at the people. How were they able to let go of their lives so easily, not caring about the world as they drank themselves to sleep?
Rolling his eyes, he banged his head across the surface, unaware of the curious looks towards him. With shaky hands, he accepted his drink. He didn’t want to look at the bartender. Didn’t want to wither under her pitiful gaze. So he downed his drink in long gulps, hoping to eradicate himself from all thoughts. Cordelia. Cordelia.
The memory of her encompassed him entirely. He knew he would never forget her face. And how could he, when they used to mean so much to each other?
Running his fingers through his hair, he asked for another drink. Beside him, a woman abruptly coughed. He twisted his head, only to meet coffee brown eyes. They were lined with black, just how Cordelia did hers when she would prepare for a dance. She adorned herself with gold jewellery and a beautiful silk dress that hugged her body. She was beautiful, Joseph realised, but she was dull compared to Cordelia.
Even so, they significantly resembled each other.
The woman smiled and, unsure, Joseph smiled back. She raised her eyebrow and asked, “Aren’t you going to say anything?”
Lost for words, Joseph kept quiet. Carefully, she scooted closer to him. Her eyes sparkled. Yet the uncanny similarity to Cordelia’s caused Joesph’s heart rate to increase. How long had it been since he had talked to another woman?
Pretending as if he and Cordelia were only enemies had made Joseph weary, and he had lost all interest in anything other than dancing and keeping up the façade. He’d no longer wanted her; their relationship pushed him to his boundaries. Maybe he was unfair, or perhaps too insensitive. Yet the definition of their love was somehow lost in their desire to keep everything a secret.
He didn’t think he would ever forget the cruel words they had aimed at each other. They scarred him like any other wound, pushing further, deeper into his skin. He had lost her; lost one of the most important people in his life because he couldn’t handle his emotions. It angered him.
It angered him more than he cared to admit.
He was pulled out of his reverie when the woman snapped her fingers, her gentle smile replaced with a scowl. Running his fingers through his hair, he grabbed his drink, pushing himself away from her.
He realised he couldn’t do this.
He couldn’t betray Cordelia like this. He wouldn’t. Even if he could never have her again, it wasn’t fair to use his love and hatred for her as a motive to like someone else. He couldn’t do it when she was all he could think about. Because, after all this time, she still meant more to him than he cared to admit. Betraying her was the last thing he could do.
He wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t ruin any chance he had of making her smile again.
His eyes burned, tears falling down his cheeks. Closing his eyes, he inhaled slowly. Cordelia would never exit his mind, and Joesph had to accept that. He had to accept everything that was coming to him. Because he knew he deserved it.
Shaking his head, he chugged his last drink and left the bar.