“Annie, what is going on? Why are you acting like this?”
“Because I want you to quit lying to me! You keep saying we’re going to last, but I know you know that that isn’t true!”
“You’re moving after graduation, Josh!”
Josh stood there in shock. “How….How did you find out?”
“Kaylee told me. I know it was just to spite me and rub my face in it, but the point is she told me that a week ago and you’ve never said anything! Why? Why did everyone find out before me?”
“Because I didn’t know how to tell you! I was afraid you’d want to break up with me!”
Annie rolled her eyes and threw her hands up in the air. “Well you sealed that deal. I wouldn’t be tempted to if you would’ve just told me. What were you going to do? Tell me the day you left? Or just not tell me at all and make me find out the next time I came over?”
Josh just stood there. When was he going to tell her?
“So, I guess this is it. Have a good life.” Annie said and walked over to her car.
She opened the door and stopped. Was he really just going to stand there?
Annie turned around and looked at him. Tears in her eyes.
“I love you. I don’t think I ever said that enough….I’m sorry I ever made you think you had to lie to me.” she said and got in her car and left.
Josh stood there and watched her drive away.
Never said that enough? That was absolutely ridiculous! She said it everyday! First thing in the morning. Every time they left each other to go to work or school or wherever. And every night before she fell asleep.
Did he seriously just lose the only girl he ever loved? After growing up together and dating for 2 years, was it really over just like that?
The next week, Annie got a text from Josh.
J: Can I see you? Please?
Annie sat there debating on what to say.
She had been miserable for the past week. Josh was the only person she had ever fallen in love with. She always thought it would stay that way. But when he didn’t even try to stop her from leaving that day, it made her question everything. Maybe he wanted to break up, he just didn’t know it.
J: I’m leaving tomorrow.
A: ….Meet me at the park
Josh walked up to Annie, who was sitting on one of the swings.
“Hey.” he said as he came around in front of her.
She looked up at him. “Hey.”
“How’ve you been?” Josh asked.
“What do you want, Josh?” Ann asked bluntly.
He sighed and shrugged. “To say I’m sorry….For everything. I should’ve stopped you last week. I should’ve told you I was moving….I have no excuse for any of it.”
Josh looked at her, tears streaming down his face. “I’m so sorry, Annie.”
Ann fought back her own tears. “Josh….I think this is for the best. As much as it hurts, I think we need to take time apart. I mean, we’ve never dated anyone else. We’ve spent almost all of our lives together since we were 12. I’m no expert, but I don’t think that’s very healthy.”
They both laughed through their tears.
“Go. Move to Texas and do….whatever you want to do. If you find somebody else….”
Ann felt like she was choking out the words. Find someone else. She didn’t want him to but, if someone else could make him happier, he deserved it.
“Then great. If I find someone else at college, great. If we don’t and we both come back alone….maybe we can try again.”
Josh hated what she was saying. He didn’t want to find someone else! And he didn’t want her to either! But at the same time, everything she was saying was right. They needed time apart to figure out what they really wanted. No matter how things ended up.
“I’m always gonna love you. You’ll always have a special place in my heart.” Josh said quietly.
Ann smiled. “And you’ll always have a special place in mine.”
They sat there for a moment. Then Josh broke the silence.
“Can we….Can we at least spend one more day together? Even if it’s just as friends?”
Ann nodded. “I would like that.”
At the end of the night, Josh took Ann back to her house and walked her to her door.
They stood there for a moment, unsure of what to say.
Ann looked up at him to say something, but as soon as she opened her mouth, tears started to fall. So she threw her arms around him instead.
“I love you!” she cried into his shoulder.
“I love you too.” Josh cried.
They held onto each other so tight, their knuckles were white.
Josh took her face in his hands and kissed her. Ann gripped onto his coat, like she couldn’t pull him close enough.
“I’ll see you again. No matter what happens, I will always care about you, I swear.” Josh whispered.
Ann kissed his shoulder as she brought him back into a hug. “You’ll always be in my heart.”
***3 years later***
“Hey, did you know Jacob Peterson in high school?” Ann’s cousin, Naomi, asked as they sat on the couch watching t.v. and playing on their phones.
“Yea, why?” Ann asked.
“Did you hear he died?”
Naomi looked back at her phone. “Oh I meant his brother Josh.”
Ann felt like she just got punched in the face. “Wh-What? Are you sure? What happened?”
“Yea, it says he was in a motorcycle accident in the city.”
Ann looked at her cousin’s phone. The second she saw his picture, she burst into tears.
***1 week later***
Once everyone had left the burial at the cemetery, Ann went back and stood in front of the casket with flowers piled on top.
She still hadn’t come to terms with it. How could he be gone? Just like that?
Thunder boomed overhead. Ann looked up at the darkening sky. It had been threatening to rain all day, but that was the first time thunder had sounded.
“Just rain already, will you?” she angrily mumbled.
Once Josh moved to Texas, they only talked for a few months. But it wasn’t bad. She thought about him from time to time. At the funeral, his mom told her he never dated anyone else. She said he just never found anyone that made him feel the way Ann did. His mom hugged Ann and told her as she continued to cry, “You were always such a special friend to him.”
Ann never dated anyone else either. She had just come back from college a few months ago in December. No one there really ever caught her eye. And no one had since she came back.
Ann didn’t even know Josh had moved back. Not to their hometown, but just their home state. And she was pissed at herself for it.
They hadn’t talked in three years. But it was her fault. A few months after moving to Wyoming for college, she was going through her friends list on social media and decided to unfriend him.
They hadn’t talked for months! And if she wanted to move on, she needed to quit seeing his name all the time. If they met back up, she could just re-friend him. What an idiot she was.
The thunder boomed again and tiny sprinkles started to fall.
“Just rain already gosh dammit!!” she screamed to the sky.
As if on command, it immediately began to downpour. Thunder and lightning flashed throughout the clouds.
And Annie continued to scream and cry, as if the rain might actually wash away the guilt.