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Teens & Young Adult Coming of Age Romance

HIM

Bethany had flown into town for a few days from Ohio, and he couldn’t not show up. It might be weird, but it would be weirder if he didn’t show.


HER

Dustin came. She didn’t think he would, but he had.


HIM

Besides, it wasn’t like it would just be the two of them. There would be a lot of their classmates and strangers. It was fine. It had been thirteen months since they graduated, and ten months since they broke up.


HER

She was standing too close to the band when he arrived, so she didn’t hear or see him. She didn’t want to appear eager, but she would’ve liked to have seen him enter, seen his eyes when they landed on hers.


 HIM

The truth is, if she hadn’t ended it, he would’ve done it. At some point, the distance would’ve been too difficult to scale. She did him a favor. She did them both a favor.


 HER

When she saw him, when he walked toward her, she forgot to breathe.


 HIM

She looked good. She was thin, which she had never been before. It reminded him she was no longer his, that both of them had changed, lived without one another and the thought made his stomach clench.


  HER

He was wearing the ring that she had gotten him. It made her wonder what other things he had held onto.


    HIM

One time, they shared two pitchers and played a game of pool for so long that when they exited the bar; it surprised him it was still light out. She had blue chalk on the inside of her wrist that stayed there until she put her hand into his. She had small hands.


   HER

They kissed hello like they hadn’t spent every day for three years together, like they hadn’t shared dreams, and fought over what to watch on television.


  HIM

He had forgotten how she hugged, how she launched her body into his and didn’t pull away until he was ready.


 HER

She wanted to sip the beer he was holding. She wanted their lips to touch.


 HIM

Maybe she would’ve stayed and talked more if one of her sister’s friends hadn’t walked in. She was sorry, but she had to go over and say hi.                                   


HER

This person was touching her arm and saying something funny, but she wasn’t entirely sure because she was thinking about Dustin.


 HIM

He wanted to get between them, to be in on the joke because when she laughed, it was like a physical pain.


 HER

She tried to keep eye contact, to ignore Dustin’s pull across the room.


  HIM

He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t be there. He stood up and set his beer down. It was a mistake to come.


HER

He used to make these elaborate toasts until she had to hold the glass with her other hand because it had grown so heavy and their friends would look at her, like tell him to hurry, but she liked how he saw the world. She liked how he made a short story long. If they had stayed together, maybe it would’ve been something that annoyed her about him.


HIM

She fidgeted with her hair. She twirled it around and through her fingers.


 HER

He was walking through the bar with his friend, a new friend, whom she didn’t know very well. She could tell from his expression, the way his eyebrows bent down, that he wasn’t fond of her. It made her wonder what Dustin had told him. Bethany had a problem with being disliked. Ever since her neighbor in her dorm freshman year said she didn’t need a reason, that she just didn’t like her. “I was homecoming queen.” She wanted to say. “It's not fair. People like me.”


HIM

They had talked the day before it happened for an hour. There was no warning sign. But their breakup had been an earthquake—seismic and unpredictable.


HER

She could explain. She could tell him. “Afterward my lip smelled, and I was immediately sorry.”


 HIM

She used to sleep with her foot against Dustin's leg. It was as if she was just checking to see that he was still there.


HER

His hair smelled like lavender and oranges. 


HIM

He didn’t want to go. He wanted to hear about her life. He wanted to talk about his. He had joined a bowling league.


 HER

She wanted to tell him everything. She had taken up yoga with women who were older than seventy-five. She knew it was odd, but she liked stretching from the comfort of a chair.


 HIM

His mother had gotten him a bright blue bowling bag with a large “D” on the outside.


 HER

She was twenty-three, but her betrayal had aged her. It clung to her.


 HIM

One night, he had scored 175.


HER

She was sure if they could sit down if she could just explain, he would forgive her.


 HIM

It was too late. He needed to put her and this night behind him. It was fine. He would be fine. It was just how life was. Sometimes, you live with the loss. Besides, there were people at the bar they had gone to college with. She wouldn’t miss him. He would just slip away when no one was looking.


 HER

She was standing by the pool table watching him walk outside, through the window, past a motorcyclist and three girls talking, and then she was pushing past the people she was with and crashing through the door and running after him.

“Wait!”


   HIM

Even before she called his name, he spun around.


HER

The air hummed.


HIM

She once covered the door of his apartment with yellow and orange post-its. On each square, she had written a reason she loved him. He left them until the adhesive on the back wore out, until they folded in on themselves one by one, ripped or flew away.


 HER

It was her turn to convince him, to tell him she loved him and that she was sorry. But as his eyes held hers, she just stood there, unable to say anything.

August 07, 2022 18:54

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2 comments

Carolina Mintz
19:44 Aug 17, 2022

I like the style of this story - Him and Her - I can relate to the complex thoughts, the self-doubts, the misunderstandings when they do not voice their feelings - poignant in the details they each remember about the other, like blue chalk on her hand or the scent of his hair. I wanted them to stay together, and yet it couldn't be.

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Whitney W.
00:35 Aug 18, 2022

thank-you :)

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