20100803

'Crossing Paths' a short story by Krissy Smith ♥

As I walked down the steps
outside of my classroom building, December was quick to greet me with an unfriendly gust of wind -- violently rustling the few pages of notes that I carried in hand and blowing my hair every which-way. I shivered. The temperature was already near unbearable and the last thing it needed to be paired with was ice-cold wind causing it to feel much worse outside than it already was. Head down to avoid wind-induced watery eyes, I pulled my scarf tighter around my neck. Quickly, I folded up my notes and stuck them into the front pocket of my messenger bag before I slid my hands into the pockets of my coat. Why in the world did I leave the house this morning without my gloves?

The wind showed no signs of sparing me so I simply used it as an odd source of motivation. The harder the wind whipped, the more pep I put into my step as I walked speedily in the direction of my next class. I looked up briefly to see a mass of students congregated around the crosswalk, waiting to cross the busy intersection.

“Great.” I sighed as I grimaced at the digital orange hand on the light post for breaking my stride. Just my luck, that I would get stopped at the longest-holding light on campus on the coldest day of winter. I checked my phone. I had ten minutes to get to my next class, which by the way, was on the complete opposite side of campus. On the days when I’m not stopped at this intersection, I rarely ever make it to class on time. Which only meant that today, undoubtedly, I was going to be late. Very late.

I shifted my weight from leg-to-leg as I watched the cars zip through the intersection. Nervous habit. After glancing around at the people surrounding me, I noticed that I was the only person who looked to be in any kind of hurry. Curious, I then looked over to the congregation of students on the other side of the street, who also seemed quite patient while they waited. Hm, guess I'm the only one with a professor who is strict about tardies. Yeah, this is college but he doesn't treat us like it. Before I could look away from their calm faces, one in particular caught my eye. I couldn't look away -- not that I even had a desire to.

There he was. Cute as ever.
Bundled up in winter clothes – hat, peacoat & boots – shivering although his hands were deep inside his coat pockets.

There I was. Caught off guard.
My lips were curled inward – my weak attempt to hide the smile that was eager to spread across my face.

It had been a while since we crossed paths with each other. Months to be exact. Well,
four months to be exact-exact...but who was keeping track? The familiar flutter of imaginary butterflies made my stomach quake with excitement and politely nudged my heart to wake from her slumber.

I kept telling myself to look away and wipe the silly smile off my face before he caught me looking so ridiculous. However, I was giddy just from getting a glimpse of the person who made my heart dance for such a significant time of my life…even if that glimpse did come from way across the street. Defiantly, my eyes remained locked on him. I couldn’t help it – I needed to catch his gaze. My grandma would always tell me that a person’s eyes were the gateway to their soul. And well, I was interested in what his eyes would tell me when they locked with mine.

Would a smile effortlessly spread across his face – reflecting his inner state of bliss that matched my own? Would his own set of imaginary butterflies flutter in his stomach when he gazed into my eyes for the first time in months? Four months. No closure. I needed to know. I was convinced that the answers I longed for would be answered if he would just look up and in my direction. Would his eyes say the same things to me that my own eyes were whispering to him? I wondered if his eyes would tell me that he missed my smile – that he missed having me around. Would they tell me that he too finds himself consumed with thoughts of us when he’s alone? Or that time has got him wondering how he ever could have left me. That…maybe he was insane, maybe just misguided – na├»ve.

Maybe his eyes would tell me that breaking up had to have been a mistake, because clearly months have gone by – and yet he can’t seem to pry my hands from his heart nor can he pry his from mine. Does he too endure sleepless nights -- laying, wishing that he could hold me in his arms as we drift into oblivion as we used to? Thoughts of us. Do they plague his mind like the plague my own? Maybe his eyes would tell me that although he had supposedly you’ve moved on – he couldn’t stop thinking of me. Because -- I too had moved on but no one quite compares to him. No other guy gets me like he does – makes me laugh, comforts me, encourages me, appreciates me – like he does. Maybe his eyes would tell me that he was feeling the same way. His eyes wouldn’t lie because the soul doesn’t lie. I just needed to catch his gaze, even if just briefly.

A quick gust of ice-cold winter wind shook me back into reality, paralyzing me for about five seconds. I had almost forgotten how cold it was until then. The traffic still zoomed between us. The orange digital hand still glared at me – taunting me. I still hadn’t broken my gaze from him and still, he hadn't looked up in my direction.

I desperately needed his eyes to softly whisper to me, “I love you” so that mine could sweetly answer back, “& I miss you.” Then the fire in our eyes would then dance simultaneously. Just as the red light ceased the oncoming traffic for our reunion - our rekindled flame would temporarily freeze time and all that didn’t matter would stand still as we gaze into each others’ eyes. Into each others’ souls. And maybe then, I could replace the false smile that I’ve been wearing with the real one he stole when he walked out with my happiness months ago. I just needed to catch his eyes.

I stared anxiously at the digital orange hand that was prohibiting us from reuniting. I was still shifting my weight from leg-to-leg. Partially because I had convinced myself that it was helping me to stay warm and partially because it helped me calm my nervous jitters. I was practically leaping with anxiety. Excitement. I couldn’t stop thinking about how our encounter was going to play out. Repeat. Repeat. A million thoughts were flying through my head and a million more butterflies were making my stomach feel queasy. The moment I had been desperate to encounter for the past couple of months was about to become tangible -- couldn't believe it.

Repeat.
Repeat.
Repeat.


The brutal cold was the only thing stopping my legs from dancing to the sound of my own heartbeat at the moment. Instead, I anticipated dancing in my heart to the tango of our own intertwined heartbeats. That smile I’d been concealing spread rebelliously across my lips. Despite the cold, I was warm. Beaming.

Dang it, stupid orange digital hand. Hurry it up.

I couldn’t bare the anticipation much longer. I felt like screaming when I noticed the traffic beginning to slow. Yellow light.

Come on red light.

Ironically, the red light meant a green light for me. The traffic had come to a halt and yet the orange digital hand seemed to be lingering on the light post for longer than it usually would.

Ahh, how do I look?

I rubbed my lips together and was pleased that the cold hadn’t dried the caramel latte scented lip gloss off of my lips. Then quickly, I smoothed my hair which the wind had undoubtedly left looking disheveled. As soon as straightened out my coat and put my hands back into my pockets, the orange digital hand was replaced with a white digital man telling me that I was now free from the orange hand’s digital prison.

And without even thinking, my feet began to move as though they had a mind of their own --practically racing to meet him in the intersection. My eyes were locked on him despite the mass of people who were crossing the intersection in both directions, slightly blocking my view. My heart was nearly beating out of my chest with each step that I took. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I was freaking out. Hands still in my pockets became clammy, fluttering butterflies in my stomach morphed into stinging wasps. I couldn’t contain myself much longer. There he was. Oh my gosh. I repeated in my head. He was still looking down at the ground as he walked towards me.

Look up!” I scream at him in my head. He got closer, head still down.

UGH! Oh my gosh, look up!” I demanded. Five feet away from me, he finally looked up – and just like that, our eyes met.

Smile plastered on my face, I practically handed my heart back into his hands. I was so excited to see him and any bystander could tell by the enthusiasm radiating through every inch of me. I glared into his eyes to see if he too was handing me his heart once more. To see if he was inviting me back in to his life with open arms and a warm smile on this unbearably cold Thursday morning. A warm invitation for a cold, fractured heart.

He did not. Instead, he may as well have smacked my already-fragile heart out of my hands, causing it to tumble onto the cold pavement to be trampled underneath the feet of the stampede that was speedily crossing through the intersection. The bright smile on my face and the hope in my eyes were doused as I was greeted by his dull, lifeless eyes which looked away from me quickly and effortlessly – no acknowledgement of my presence, let alone any sign of reciprocated feelings. He looked completely through me as though I was nothing more than a mere stranger to him.

As though I was
nothing to him. Period.
His eyes were lifeless. Dead.
So were we. It was over.

How could you be so stupid? It's been over. I scolded myself. So, so stupid.
The cold seemed to freeze my world in that moment. Repeat. Repeat. I couldn’t get the comatose look in his eyes to stop replaying in my head. Unbearable. I blamed the watering of my eyes on the bitter cold gusts of wind irritating my sensitive eyes – but it was much deeper than that. These tears were the product of rejection. Failed love. Undeniable heartbreak.

“Don’t you dare cry. You better not cry.” Reprimanding myself seemed to be the only thing I could do to stop the tears from falling like they desired. Despite my hearts’ protests, I needed to move on. No more hoping & thinking. Wishing & praying. As much as I hated it, I needed this. I asked for closure and I got it.

As we took each other’s places on the opposite sides of the intersection, I looked over my shoulder in hopes of catching one last glimpse of him before he re-entered my past – for good this time. Anxiously, I scanned the crowd in attempt to find him in the mass of college students, all dressed similarly. Not an easy task. That’s not him, nope that’s not him. Uh…nope. Definitely not him.

As soon as I decide to give up on spotting him, two eyes met with mine through the crowd. Effortless connection. Just as I was turning back around, he too turned -- glancing back over his shoulder at me. The two of us met eyes briefly. Just briefly. This time, my lifeless, watering eyes locked in with his resentful and troubled eyes and time, in our worlds, froze momentarily.

Softly, his eyes simply whispered to me, “I’m sorry,” before he turned and disappeared into the crowd. I restrained my tongue for screaming out, “WAIT!” and restricted my legs from changing directions and running to meet him before he disappeared on me once again. That was it? I needed more. I needed an explanation. I needed him. He was sorry. Sorry for what exactly? I hadn't noticed that my legs had stopped moving altogether. Feet glued in place, my eyes were still fixated on the intersection which we had just crossed. He was gone...but he was sorry. Sorry. For leaving me four months ago? For pretending that I meant nothing to him just now? For...?

The wind stung my face as it chilled the lone tear that slide down my left cheek. I wiped it away quickly. I checked my phone. 11:01. I was officially late for class. Didn’t care.

Repeat.
Repeat.
Repeat.


I replayed it all in my head. The look in his eyes was forever etched in my memory.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat...


I continued to hold back the tears as I walked slowly, taking the longest way possible to my class.
Grandma always told me that the eyes were the gateway to the soul.
The eyes do not lie because the soul does not lie.
If only I knew what his was telling me...

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