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Memories of a Past Love

I zero in on him as soon as he walks through the café door. I am fifteen again standing in the corner with a steadfast hope for the future. Life is a long, exciting journey ahead and love seems to be on the horizon. I feel butterflies erupt in my stomach, when I see him on the makeshift dancefloor, with his grey polo shirt, and khaki dress pants, the picture of perfection.

I notice that he steals furtive glances when he thinks I am too invested in talking to my friends. Things between us have recently began to shift. We first talked during graduation practice, and it was everything I dreamed of and more. He was no longer afraid that talking to me would taint his reputation and I was not letting my fear of showing how much I liked him get in the way.

After that fateful talk, I began to feel his warm chocolate eyes follow me everywhere. It seemed that he could no longer hide the attraction he felt for me, and I was doing my best to avoid his newfound attention, fearing that it would stop as soon as I confronted what was happening between us.

A slow song begins to play softly, one that I am very familiar with. I gaze across the dancefloor at him, ready to finally put all my cards on the table. He looks back at me, our eyes locking, and willing each other to make a move. It reminds me of one of those cliché teen movies where the nerdy girl likes the popular guy, who secretly likes her back. He asks her to dance at Homecoming or Prom before finally confessing how much he truly likes her.

I wait for the moment to come, knowing in my heart of hearts that he is going to walk across that floor and ask me dance. I am so lost in the moment that I barely register that the song is nearing the inevitable end. I continue to will him with my eyes to come over, but he still does not budge. It is at this exact moment I feel the first sign of tears prick at my eyes.

I can feel my friends staring at me, all of them ready to tell me “I told you so”. She chooses not to look at them now, as the words of the song reach their natural end. The hot tears flow freely down my cheeks as the D.J. switches to a faster track. I wordlessly walk away from my friends and sit at one of the tables, the butterflies I felt earlier now dead in my stomach, and the hope I had in the future destroyed.

As I force myself back to the present, I notice that he is now standing in line. He is looking intently at something on his phone, which only allows her to see his side profile. She notes that he now has a dark brown beard covering his strong jaw and he is a few pounds heavier, but otherwise, he looks the same.

I watch him reach the front of the line and order his coffee. I wish I could hear his deep voice over the noisy morning crowd to determine whether it is how I recollect it in my memories. Is it an octave deeper or maybe it is not at all how she remembers it? She contemplates whether time has altered the details of her memories, obscuring the truth of them.

As she stares at the man, receiving his coffee, she tries to connect him to the boy she once knew. Is he still worried about what the rest of the world thinks of him, or has he grown into his own person not needing approval? Does he ever stop to think about her or wonder what could have been like she does? Or has the memory of her disappeared with time?

I feel tears start to fill my eyes, as I watch him make his way towards the door to leave. I realize that this will likely be the last time I will ever see him, and I burn it into my memory. When he finally reaches the door, he pauses only a second before he slowly turns to meet her eyes. Proving that time can alter memories but not the feeling of love itself. 

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