“Hey.” I said awkwardly.
“Hi...come in.” She stepped to the side and opened the door wider for me. I walked inside and was immediately hit by the familiar smells of the flat, as well as the smell of baking…
“It’s Mikey’s birthday… I get to bring the brownies.” She slipped past me, and it seemed she was trying hard not to touch me. She was giving me a wide berth.
“That’s really nice of you.”
“Well I am his aunt.” She shoved her hands in her pockets and shifted her weight a few times. “Okay… I’d better check on them. Your post is in the bedroom with your bracelet.” She glanced at me and then turned on her heel and went in to the kitchen. I bit my lip. This was not going as well as I’d pictured.
Inside the bedroom… it was different. I could tell. The picture of us was no longer over the bed and the empty space made my heart rip a little. I found the letters with my bracelet on top of the drawers and slipped them in to my bag. Then I looked around curiously. Had she been seeing someone else?
There was no sign of anyone new here, just Sam. Slightly messy, smart Sam. I wandered around the room almost without realising it and when I reached the bed I brushed my fingers against the fabric. I gritted my teeth and refused to let the well of emotion that had just appeared overwhelm me. Instead I sat down to take a breather, but that made it worse. Being on the bed again… I found my fingers were on her pillow and I was drawing it towards my face… it smelled of her and I pressed it to me. God I’d missed that smell. I was an idiot to-
“What are you doing?” I looked up from the pillow to find her in the doorway. I quickly put the pillow back, apologising.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was… I was just going…” I hurriedly stood up and went for the door. She didn’t move out of the way. “Sam… I can’t get through. Please… let me through.” I was going to start crying, I knew I was. This wasn’t going how I’d hoped at all.
“I can’t.” She looked distressed by the realisation.
She frowned and shook her head. Now there were tears trickling down my cheeks, and I saw her watch one makes its path. As it reached my jaw she suddenly reached up and gently wiped it away. It was the first time she’d touched me since we’d broken up and I felt that fiery tingling explosion erupt along my skin. She snatched her hand away too quickly; I guessed she’d felt the same thing. But now all I wanted to do was to feel that again… I raised my right hand and she moved slightly, away from me. I persisted and slowly stepped forward, still raising my hand until it was at the level of her face.
“Stop me… if you don’t want me to…” I murmured and saw her breathing shift, getting heavier. She was watching my hand like it was a dangerous creature, but when her eyes flicked up to mine they were dark and… I took another step forward and my fingertips connected with her cheek. She flinched but stayed still. I trailed them up through her hair and let my thumb take their place on her cheekbone. I closed the gap between us by another step. Her eyes were filled with tears now, her breathing heavy, almost panting. She was trying to keep rigidly still; I could see the amount of control she was using. “I miss you every day… every minute of every day.” I murmured to her.
“Cara, I…” Almost automatically her hands reached forward to touch my waist but stopped before they reached it. I could bridge the gap, but I didn’t want to push my luck. She looked like she was about to snap and I couldn’t be responsible for that. So instead I let go and stepped back. She took a sharp intake of breath.
“I’m sorry.” I murmured. “I shouldn’t have…” She stared at me and I couldn’t understand her expression.
“I thought I could do this but I can’t.” She said.
Panic ran through me.
“Do what?” I asked.
“I can’t do it Cara… I can’t… be around you.” She ran her hands through her hair and looked at me. She wasn’t crying but she looked affected.
“Why?” It was a stupid question. She still hated me for everything.
“I still… you still make me feel like…” She bit her lip and shook her head. So it wasn’t hatred. She felt how I did.
“I still feel like that too, but maybe it’ll fade?” I asked desperately.
“I don’t think so.” She murmured. “I don’t think it’ll ever fade.”
“What do we do?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
We stood there, looking at each other for what seemed like an age, when it was only a matter of seconds, and not nearly long enough. I couldn’t stop taking her in; the dark look in her eyes that was somewhere between desperation and desire, the way her lips curved slightly, the barely noticeable fluttering of her breathing. Twice I almost said something, but the expectant look on her face shut me up because I knew that nothing I could say would change this feeling that we were experiencing. Eventually, she broke the silence.
“I have to go… Mikey’s party.”
“Right. Mikey…” I fidgeted awkwardly, unsure whether to ask or not… “Would you tell him happy birthday from me? I know I have no right but-“
“-I’ll tell him.” She nodded.
“Thanks.” I glanced back over my shoulder in to the bedroom, at the empty space where our picture used to hang. When I turned back Sam was looking there too. She met my eyes and opened her mouth to speak. “Yeah, I ought to go. Thanks for the letters. And the bracelet. I’ll see you around… maybe.” I hurried. I didn’t want her to explain why the photo wasn’t there. I knew. I’d broken her heart, and mine in the process. I turned and hurried to the door, heard her following behind me. I managed to get the door open and hurried outside, turning once I was safely on the fire escape.
“So… bye then. And thanks again.”
“Bye Cara.” Sam replied, her voice low and soft. I wanted to kiss her so badly in that moment that I even took a step forward. She leaned forward a little in the doorway; I could have closed the gap and had her lips on mine in one step…
“Okay, bye.” I hurried down the fire escape, unable to cope with all the heat and aching that surrounded me when I was near her anymore.