Not Meant To Be, Never Will Be

Submitted into Contest #196 in response to: Write a story that includes the phrase “Maybe in another life.”... view prompt


Fiction Romance Drama

“From the moment I met you, I knew there was something special about you,” he starts, tucking a loose strand of my curly brown hair behind my ear.

I smile, thinking of the first time I heard that line. The boy who said it was my first love. And for a time, I thought, the one. But he’s not the one standing in front of me now. Instead it’s Adrian, my boyfriend of four years, wearing that cheeky little grin of his.

“You have this warmth and kindness that shines through in everyone you meet, and everything you do. You make me laugh, you challenge me, and you undoubtedly make me a better person,” Adrian continues, and I think to myself, I made him a better person too.

I gave him everything I could at that age. I wanted nothing more than to be a pair of reckless teenagers in love, but my parents didn’t approve of me dating outside my culture. But, at that time, nothing could keep me away from the rush of adrenaline I felt with you. Nothing, and no one. 

I look out to the ocean and watch the tide roll in and out as Adrian recounts the story of how we met. His mother approached mine at a wedding to ask for my number because he was so nervous, he knocked his drink all over his suit before he could leave his table. But you never hesitated to approach me first, Vic. 

I remember sitting at the lumpy red booth in the back of Enzo’s Pizzeria after class, loading my plain slice up with an absurd amount of toppings when you came over and introduced yourself to me. You pushed your baseball hat backwards before you extended your hand, to give me a better view of your face. But I didn’t hear a word that came out of your mouth, and you knew it. I was mesmerized by your amber eyes, wondering what school you went to, how often you worked out, and if you had a girlfriend or not. You laughed as I spaced out while holding your hand, and it sounded like something you didn’t do very often. You then pointed to my tray, asking to borrow the parmesan cheese for your friend so he could do the exact same thing. I looked down at my train wreck of a pizza slice and I practically turned as red as the sauce on it. You thought I was being cute, and came back later to give me napkins. The bottom one in the pile had your name and number written on it. 

Adrian grabs my hand and rubs his thumb across the back of it. He’s moved on to our first kiss story, his blue eyes mirroring the evening sky when he talks. He was so proud of himself that night, saving up for a week to take me to the fanciest steakhouse in town for our first official date. After dinner, I kissed him on my building’s front steps, because I didn’t have to worry about the doorman telling my parents. I always had you drop me off three blocks away, just to play it safe. 

Our first kiss was something out of a movie. It was a rainy summer day and I was lifeguarding. You biked to me in the pouring rain just to stand at the gate in sopping wet clothes, to tell me you loved me. I, again, was embarrassed, because the heat always flushed to my cheeks around you. I remember looking around to make sure no one was around to watch me jump into your arms. No matter what, I had to live with the fear of my parents finding out. My mind was screaming what if they find out, what if they disown me, what if they hate me, and yet I pressed my lips to yours like you were this obscene craving I had to get a fix of. 

I slowly drop Adrian’s hand and cross my arms, resting the palms of my hands on my shoulders, in an attempt to hug myself to find that same warmth I felt back then. With you, I felt safe. With Adrian, I find solace. 

The hem of my sundress picks up with the sea breeze as my eyes greet my boyfriend the same way one sees their reflection: loving it in pieces but cringing at it as a whole. I love his floppy brunette hair, movie star smile, and his uncanny ability to make me laugh. I cringe at the fact that he’s everything my parents expected from me, and I hate the fact that you weren’t enough for them. For me. 

“Ness, I want to…” Adrian clears his throat and carefully rubs the palms of his hands across his black slacks. 

“Want to what?” I interrupt, the mere mention of my nickname sending me into overdrive. You were the one to give me that nickname, and I can’t believe it stuck by me all these years. Even after you were out of my life for good. 

Before I can submit to the next wave of nostalgia coursing through my brain, I realize Adrian is on one knee, and he’s not tying his shoelaces. A little black box peeks out at me through his left side pocket. My throat starts to hitch, and my pulse becomes a slave to my anxiety. How didn’t I see that when we were walking in the sand? 

I was lying on your chest when I confided I never thought I’d get married, in any traditional sense, at least. That I believed I was never meant to throw a lavish wedding, because I knew my family would not come if my parents refused to accept my spouse. That I knew whatever love I was given, no matter how special, I would elope if they weren’t what my parents wanted. That I didn’t want kids if they wouldn’t be cherished by their grandparents. I remember sobbing into the soft cotton fabric of your hoodie, the one I’d always end up stealing because no matter how much it was washed, it still carried the scent of your ridiculously strong cologne.

Your heart beat probably as fast as mine is right at this very moment, except it was out of anger more than anxiety. You tried to kiss me and comfort me and tell me I’m strong enough to survive life without the acceptance of my parents. But no matter how many times you told me, I never believed you. Because I was scared we wouldn’t work. You’d eventually get tired of sneaking around and grow to resent me for it, and I’d let my anxiety eat me whole, until there was no one left to hate but myself for treating our relationship like a dirty little secret. 

My fingertips are digging into the flesh of my shoulders as I fight the tears brimming in my eyes. The smile I have plastered on my face must be working because Adrian is getting quite worked up himself. I see his hands are shaky as they open the little black box, as if its contents are more precious to him than life itself. They’re happy tears, Ness. You’re happy now. You love this man, he’s so good to you.

“I promise to be there for you: as a best friend, a partner, and a soulmate, through thick and thin. To support you and encourage you, and to love you with all my heart,” Adrian says, his eyes getting as equally glassy as mine. 

I wanted it to be you, Vic. But we kissed like we were starving, hugged like we were protecting each other from the outside world, and made love as if our lives depended on it, as if we knew we’d have limited time together. You loved me fiercely because you saw a future, I did it because I knew what we had was fleeting. I’m just not as strong as you think I am. Remember our fights, how I’d say the most vicious words to you to get you to hate me? I needed you to hate me. That was the only way I could move on.

“Vanessa, will you marry me?” Adrian says as he lifts the ring to meet my eyeline.

The tears fall from my eyes and flood my vision, my only lifeline being the glare from the setting sun off of that gorgeous diamond ring. You definitely would’ve found his ring choice basic, because you told me I deserved more than just a diamond. You said you’d want an emerald set in the center with a halo of little diamonds for me, to match one of your favorite things about me: my green eyes. 

Maybe, if I’d stood up to my parents then, I’d be here on this beach with you today. Maybe, in another life, I’d have your ring on my finger. But, in this one, I craved my parent’s acceptance more than I craved to be loved by you. 

Wiping the tears from my eyes, I cave to the one word that will make you nothing but a distant memory. 

“Yes,” I say to Adrian, with the best and brightest smile I can ever give. “Of course I will marry you.”

He flashes that same Hollywood smile I love right back at me, sliding the ring you’d hate on my finger. Once he’s back on his two feet, I grab his face and pull his mouth to mine.

Because that’s the way I know I’d kiss you, in another life. 

May 04, 2023 02:33

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Madeline Hurning
23:45 Jun 05, 2023

Beautiful story Anesa - I am a true sucker for "the one who got away" stories. This was so poignantly written and the narrator's emotions were palpable. Only critique I have is some parts of the jumping back and forth between the main character discussing Adrian and the old love were a little convoluted (but I could also see where perhaps that was your intention, with the main character's emotions for Adrian and her past love difficult to distinguish from one another at times). Overall, great work! Loved the last line.


Show 0 replies
David Sanchez
01:56 May 12, 2023

What a lovely story, so well-written and full of emotions. I definitely felt myself in the place of the main character. A pleasure to read, and I loved every word.


Show 0 replies
Wally Schmidt
21:24 May 09, 2023

What a beautifully told story of love and longing. A story about moving on and standing still. I felt like I was right there in the MC's head and that is a testament to your writing abilities. Very emotional.


Show 0 replies
Rachelle Tacosa
21:06 May 09, 2023

Your story is so good!! The way that the parallels fit together perfectly immediately draws attention, and your writing style flows incredibly!


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.