I glanced up at the stars as I ran out of the small cafe, following Melody. They shone bright in the sky, appearing here as they appear anywhere else in the world. But, in the middle of the town, they weren’t nearly as bright as the stars in the countryside by campus. Perhaps that was for the best.
“Melody!” I cried out in desperation. “Look at me,” I pleaded, hoping she would turn around. “I never meant any of this to happen.”
“Well it did,” Melody shot back as she turned to face me on the cobblestone street. She was glaring at me with those dark brown eyes that I used to love and worship. Now, any warmth she had in them was gone and replaced with anger.
“Please let me…” I murmured, but then stopped. Unlike before, her eyes that were so deep brown were now black. As black as this night was.
“Don’t, Declan. Just don’t.” Her words came out as a whisper to me. She was being quiet, which meant that she had given up. The cold, cruel wind blasted near my ear, making anything she said hard to hear. We were still at least 15 paces away from each other. I took a step forward. Melody stepped back.
“Don’t come any closer,” she warned, pulling her slim black handbag closer to her chest. After a moment, she started to say something, but she didn’t. Instead, she spun around and uttered those final, heart wrenching words. “Don’t follow me.”
As she walked away into the glow of the night, the shadows seemed to swallow her whole. I wanted to cry out, to scream at her and get her to come back. But I didn’t. I knew that nothing I ever said would make things alright. I had lied and betrayed her. No words in the English language could make her forgive me.
After a while, as the night rolled on and the stars got brighter, I finally sat down. Right there, in the middle of the grass by the cobblestone street next to our tree. The tree that held so many memories for me. Happy ones, though now they will only remind me of what I lost. They will mock me and retell all of my failures. Melody. God she was perfect. Or at least as perfect as you could be. She made mistakes like everyone else, but she was perfect to me.
And now all I have left of her is this tree and my memories. Like how she would drink warm milk before bed in a special cup her mother had gotten for her many years ago. Or how she would roll down all the windows in my car when we went to the beach. One time, in a very early stage of our relationship, she and I were down by Braxton Bridge taking a stroll. As we crossed the bridge, I had made a comment about the ducks. Suddenly, she reached into her purse and pulled out a loaf of bread. Undoing the plastic tie, she took the bread and started feeding the ducks. Without saying a word, she offered some to me. It was something I took for granted back then, something I would never get back.
I sighed and leaned my back against the tree. It all seemed like so long ago, though in reality, it was only six short months ago that our affections began. It was only five short months ago that we got caught in the library doing something other than studying. It was only four months ago that she met my parents in London, and I met hers in a graveyard. It was only three months ago that she laid out all her secrets for me to see. It was only two months ago that I began to feel like she was the one. It was only three weeks ago when I told her that I loved her. And it was only tonight that everything fell apart and turned to gray.
Looking up at the stars that showed so vividly at night, like nothing was wrong anywhere in the world, I began to feel cold. Chilled even. The sun had been down for a while, but up until this point, I did not feel any colder than I did in the small cafe. Now, sitting by this tree, our tree, without her was causing me to get chilled. Maybe it was because my body had just realized that I would never feel her warmth again. Or perhaps the warmth in my heart, after being caught up in all of the memories of her, had finally cooled down, like a star dying alone in the middle of the galaxy. Whatever the reason was, I was now cold and it was all Melody’s fault.
I started walking, hoping that it would get my blood flowing and heart pounding again. Tugging my brown leather jacket snugger around me, I fixed my eyes on the stars again. Melody and I loved the stars. We would go star-gazing on any clear night if it was possible. Going to University in the middle of the English countryside allowed us to do such a thing. Out here, with the big open sky and not many lights outside the campus and town, was the perfect place to gaze at the night sky.
Still walking, I could see students out and about, even though the witching hour was drawing to a close. Saturday night was a big party time, and it looked like most students were staggering back to their dorms. I wished that I could have been like one of those people. Walking without a care in the world. Walking, not knowing that someone was feeling this kind of pain.
“Hey Declan, buddy,” a voice behind me called out, causing me to stop in my tracks. It was Jake. I had been avoiding him all week, hiding out in the library and eating lunch outside by the pond. I did not want to talk to him. Before turning around, I prayed that he would just disappear or walk away. God did not hear me. When I turned around, he was still there, swaying a bit. He looked absolutely plastered.
“Mate, how you’ve been?” he asked with a drunken smile once he was close to me. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in weeks.”
“I’ve been busy,” I replied quickly, hoping that my curt manner would give him a hint to go away and leave me alone. It didn’t.
“Too busy for your best friend?” Jake asked, slinging his arm around my shoulder.
“Yes, I need to go and…” I drifted off in hopes that he would let me go.
“Yeah, mate,” he slurred, his head leaning into mine. “I’ll let you go.” I could smell the alcohol in his breath. “But I want to just say that I’m sorry.”
“Sorry isn’t going to cut it,” I retorted, pushing him away from me. My teeth clenched in my mouth and my left hand was in a tight fist. “Melody just broke up with me.”
“Well how ‘bout that? You didn’t cheat on her, did you?” he said with his eyes wide open.
My other hand became a fist as well. As good of friends as we were, I was not above punching him. I think that after what he did, he deserved it.
The anger must have become apparent in my eyes, because Jake took a step back. “Mate, that wasn’t my fault,” he said with a crooked grin. “I told you to hold onto your woman and not let your eyes stray.”
“I would never cheat on anyone, let alone Melody! It’s your fault she broke up with me!” I shouted at my intoxicated friend. “If you would have just kept your big, useless mouth shut, I would still be with her!”
“And I said I was sorry!” he howled back at me.
“You’re not sorry!” I screamed, finally letting all my anger from that night out. “The Jake I know never says that he’s sorry! You’re only saying this because you’re smashed!”
We were both breathing hard now, our faces practically touching. Neither of us wanted to be the first to move back. It would be like admitting the other was right. Finally, Jake took a step back. He stared at me, his eyes filling with hurt. “Whatever, mate,” Jake responded quietly. Turning around, he stumbled down the road and away from me.
I wanted to go after him and tell him I didn’t mean it. Tell him that I was sorry. Let our friendship repair itself. But I couldn’t. Because if I did, I would be lying. I’m not sorry for what I told him. He was the reason the greatest thing in my life was ripped away. All because of that stupid party. So instead of going after Jake, I turned the other way and strolled down the street.
The hours of darkness were taking a toll on me. I had stayed up late the night before and was now feeling the effect of another sleepless night. But I knew it wouldn’t have been any better trying to get a rest. My thoughts were still whirling around my cramped brain as if it was still the middle of the day. So I kept walking. Thoughts and memories of Melody kept my brain active, even if my body was falling asleep.
Walking was something that gave me a purpose. Every step on the pavement kept another memory out of my head. The sound of my foot hitting the gravel distracted my brain from thinking. I began to walk faster, my ears immersed in all the noise around me. My shoes began kicking up pebbles as I turned off the cobblestone street and onto a smaller trial that looked familiar. I couldn’t place where I was going, but I knew that this trail led to something I wanted to see. My hands were shaking as the path came to a stop.
It was the place that Melody and I had our last picnic together. We had talked about our future and where we would be in the coming year. We also went swimming in the lake next to the site. We had gone swimming there a lot in the past. Even before that picnic, this place held extensive memories for me. This was the place that I began to fall in love with her. It was also the place that I told her I loved her. That day still brings a smile to my face, even though she is now gone.
It’s ironic that Jake was the one that showed us this site in the first place. The first time I asked Melody out, Jake suggested that I took her to this spot by the water. That way, he said with a grin, if the date is going terrible, you can also suggest going swimming. He got me so worried that she would hate it, that I told her to bring along her bathing suit. Looking back, I now realize what a complete fool I was. Melody was not the kind of girl to say yes to a date and not like the person who she was with. We went back here many times during the past six months. My eyes glazed over while looking at the water, remembering all the fun we had here.
Gazing up at the moon and stars, I wished that she was here. Wishes on stars don’t come true, but it was a nice thought. Perhaps if I wished that Melody was here, she would somehow know that I was thinking about her. Just being here, where we had our first date, where we spend so much of our time together, made me miss her even more. But I know that missing her wouldn’t do any good because she would never talk or even acknowledge me after tonight.
I wish that I could turn back the time. Even just going back a week would change so much. If only Jake had not persuaded me to go to that stupid party and get drunk. Everything would have been different. Now, I’m single and my best friend hates me. I glanced once more up at the stars. They were brighter now that I’d gotten away from all the lights. Still, they only brought me small comfort. A smile from Melody would shine brighter than any star I’d even see. My eyes closed, and I began to reminisce on all the memories I had of these last, stunning six months.