Five minutes

[Timestamp: 03/03/2017] [Original Prompt I thought of]

Early in your relationship, you both had agreed to have this mini “ritual” to help you in your fights. When there were disagreements, both of you had to shut up for at least five minutes and wrap yourselves in each other’s arms, even if you both wanted to punch each other in the face, before having a proper conversation about the fight. This was the only way you could think of to remind you to consider each other. Plus, the physical touch calmed you down. Almost always, your arguments were often resolved right after this “ritual”.

However, this fight was different. 

And, you were afraid this was going to be the last.

Five minutes of heavy silence had passed. Your throat was dry and hoarse from all the screaming you did earlier. You were tired. You were very, very tired. There were still so many things you wanted to say, so many things you still wanted to ask, but they couldn’t escape your mouth. Instead, you let them flood the silence, even if it wasn’t guaranteed that it would reach him. His familiar arms were wrapped around you tightly, like how he used to hold you when you would cry to A Walk to Remember, or like how he kept you from jumping so hastily without him into the water on your last summer getaway. His arms brought you so much comfort, and you couldn’t even imagine how you’d do without them. But, it seems like you’d have to soon. You’d have to become acquainted once again with the loss of this warmth, the absence of this simple gesture that kept you grounded during the late nights writing your thesis, or the assurance that you weren’t going hysterical and that being hopelessly in love with the owner of these arms was okay since you were sure he felt the same, or maybe a thousand times more. You wanted to remove them on your body the moment they wrapped around you to stop yourself from being so dependent on them, and yet you didn’t have the strength to do so. This was the last time you were ever going to have them, and maybe, there’s nothing wrong with trying to memorize how they felt around you.

But, as everything did, the silence had to come to an end. That was the rule. That was the only thing keeping you grounded right now: the urgency.

You gathered your remaining strength. “I’d still be willing to try,” you whispered into his neck.

There was a brief pause. He nuzzled your neck and breathed your scent in before replying. “But, I won’t be.” There was a slight pain imminent in his voice, albeit a little muffled. “I still love you, I really do. But, it isn’t the same anymore.”

There it was. The words you feared hearing. I don’t love you in the same way anymore. 

All the promises, the 3 am vows, the optimism of more years to come together flooded in your mind. It seemed that they were only words and moments taken by the wind, never to be heard of again. And, yet, you couldn’t blame him. This was how love ended. It wasn’t in a furious fight of who was to blame, who was the victim. It was in the slow admittance that whatever was present before had slowly faded away. It was the realization that he slowly gained pace and left you trailing in his shadow without even looking behind. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t yours, either. It was love losing itself to time. 

You were sobbing. You knew, but you were too focused on your thoughts to even pay attention. He was completely quiet, but he didn’t move away from you. He was still engulfing you in his arms, maybe even a bit tighter from before. He rubbed your back as if to comfort you. But, you knew he wasn’t pitying you. You knew he was better than that. He was different. He would always be different. 

“Who was she?” You muttered, calming down a bit. You knew he wouldn’t lie to you. He told you earlier you deserved the truth. The least you could do was have his honesty be your means to come into terms with what was happening right now.

“Her name’s G/N.” His voice didn’t waver. His voice wasn’t small. His voice was firm. His voice was the same voice ingrained in your brain, associated with the warmth of spring and the smell of Oakwood. His voice still sounded like home. And, with this, you knew he wasn’t kidding with his decision. 

He really didn’t want to stay.

“Did you tell her?”

“No.” He didn’t hesitate. “I promised I won’t do this to you. I won’t do this to her, either.”

Sweet. He was always sweet. And considerate. And thoughtful. This was exactly why you hated parting this way; if he had done something horrible to you, it would’ve been easier to let go. But, he did nothing wrong. Falling out of love wasn’t a fault. It simply happened. Amidst everything, he was still who he was.

He was everything you wanted. 

He still was.

Even in this light, with your face nestled on his neck, he was perfect. He was beautiful. You could still see the crinkles near his eyes from his soft yet enthusiastic smiles. His lashes were not the longest, yet they graced his eyes like the first snow of winter. The corners of his lips that you loved to pepper with kisses were still there. He was still there.

But, he wasn’t yours anymore.

“I love you.” It wasn’t a demand to stay. It was your goodbye. It was, “thank you for the time we’ve spent”. It was, “I don’t want to let you go, but I’ll cope”. It was, “I’m not sure when I’ll be over you because you’re perfect and everything I will ever hope for, but I’ll try”. It was, “goodbye. Leave with a piece of my heart with you. Leave before I ask you to stay”. 

“I’m sorry.” He gave your neck a soft kiss, a goodbye, a final greeting before your paths diverge once again. It was finally over. You wouldn’t force him to stay. You wouldn’t keep him for your sake. He deserved everything, and if you weren’t the one he needed, you couldn’t do anything about it. 

This was how love ended. This was how two people, who used to fit, changed. This was how time faded what used to be bright into a dull string of greys and blacks. 

Maybe, someday, you would be thankful for what you both had. But, for now, you weren’t going anywhere.