The next day, when the final bell rang signalling the end of the school day, Adam met me by my locker and we walked to the park together holding hands. We sat on the hill watching another sunset before he walked me back to my house. The same thing happened the next day. And the next day, until it was the weekend.
Surprisingly, he did not ask me what I was doing this weekend like he usually did on the Friday evenings he walked me home. Nor did he tell me his. Instead he left me standing awkwardly at the front door and began to trudge down the street.
“Hey,” I called after him. “What about my goodbye kiss?”
His response was sluggish. He turned and walked back towards me. I puckered my lips in preparation for a kiss, but instead he wrapped his arms around me. I felt his warmth and love flow into me. It comforted my very soul. It also tricked me into thinking that everything was going to be alright, silencing all the fears and doubts that had gathered in my mind over the past few day.
For how long we held each other, I cannot remember. Yet I do remember this: it was the last hug that he ever gave me.
“Goodbye Evangeline,” he said with a sad smile. Then he carried on walking down the road while I stared dumbfounded at his back.
It was only when I went inside and plonked myself onto the sofa that I noticed a piece of paper hiding in my back pocket. Adam must have slipped it in during our embrace. Beaming, I unfolded it and smoothed over its crinkled surface. My grin broadened as my brain only half-processed the words he had jotted down in his beautiful handwriting. How imprudent I was back then.
“What are you so happy about?” My brother Mike grumbled as he slumped into the living room. In contrast to his slothful appearance he hastily whisked away the note and began to read it aloud.
“Eva, meet me at the park at 6pm. We need to talk.”
“Hey, give it back!” I shouted at him, chasing him into the kitchen and then back inside the living room.
“Will you two give it a rest,” I heard Dad’s voice float out from the office.
Mike flopped onto the sofa and grabbed the remote. As he listlessly began to flick through the channels, I planted myself in front of the television with my hand stuck out in a childish manner. He craned his neck so he could see around me, but when I manoeuvred myself so the screen was completely blocked from his view he gave up on ignoring me.
“Gosh! You’re so immature,” he groaned.
“Says the nineteen-year-old college dropout still living at home with Mummy and Daddy,” I retorted.
He screwed up my note and chucked it at me so it hit me smack in the middle of my forehead.
“Don’t see why you are making such a big deal over a dumb piece of paper. Sounds to me like he’s going to dump you.”
His words were like a slap to the face. I ran out the room and upstairs, fighting back the urge to storm back and tell him he was wrong, wrong, wrong. But even I could not deny the sliver of truth in my brother’s words.
It was all starting to add up now! The distance, the sadness, the loss of interest: these were all factors that suggested this relationship was not working out. It was what my best friend Martha would call the Declining Stage.
“Martha,” I muttered, taking out my phone and typing in the speed dial for her cell.
After an hour’s discussion, we decided that the best thing to do was to meet up with him. If I refused out of cowardice and hurt, he would forever think of me as juvenile and not worth respecting. At least, if I met him face to face I could walk away with my dignity. And there was always the off chance that he did not mean to break up with me.
You know the feeling you get right before an exam you forgot to revise for? Yes, I do mean the heart-pounding shock that sends the adrenaline shooting through your body and the pressure of tears weighing down on the back of your eyelids. That was what I felt as soon as I saw Adam waiting patiently at the bottom of the hill.
His sad blue eyes became even more miserable when they focused on me. When I saw this, I stopped.
The way he walked towards me with his head down confirmed what I had feared to be true, but then he surprised me by holding out his hand. Astonished, I did not know what else to do except take it. He led me up to the top of the hill and for a moment we stood there in silence.
When I finally managed to clear the boulder that had lodged itself inside my throat I asked, “so what now?”
“Let’s just watch the sunset. You’ll never know when it will be your last.”
I wanted to scream at him at this point. I wanted ask why he was being so thoughtful, so calm when he was about to break my heart. Instead, I did what he requested, fuming inside.
In an hour the sun had reached its lowest point in the sky and had become awash with pinks, reds and oranges that no artist had the talent to mimic. Adam turned to me, his gold and auburn highlights glinting in the dying light.
“I think you know what’s coming,” he said.
Oh gosh, he’s so cruel, I thought sullenly. I nodded, not trusting my voice to remain steady and controlled like I had practiced.This was it.This is where Adam breaks my heart.