The sun beat down on me opening every pore to possibility. I smiled. Even through the cloud of dread I could feel myself anticipate the sweetness of tomorrow. I stood another moment at the door.
The day had been fairly typical. Uni, public transport, inane chatter with students in my class I often try to avoid eye contact with. Today I looked at them. Today we discussed theatre and politics. Not very well, but we were young. I arrived at the beach front just before five. The crystal blue tempting me, I swam and floated. I tilted my head in mild flirtation at the boys that called me over, praising the shape of my behind, but I kept moving, I had a job to do.
I had made the decision a while ago, but today I was going to execute it. He would help me do it.
I stood at the front door, hand poised to knock. I could hear the TV choking out a repeat of the Simpsons. Like a lolloping puppy he answered the door wearing boxer shorts and a telling grin.
When a girl says she doesn’t want anything for Valentine’s day, don’t believe her. If she says it’s just a contrite holiday created to make money, don’t believe her. Every girl wants to be appreciated. More than that, every girl wants to tell her girlfriends how much she is appreciated.
I’m not sure what I expected. In hindsight I am glad it wasn’t much.
I entered the darkened room, TV on, chip packets scattered haphazardly on the floor next to a used ashtray. I thought he had given up again. He was excited to see me. Probably the only real person he had spoken to all day. The spark of the afternoon drained out of me. The bounce in my step sank. We shared niceties, what we did today etc. He had written a song, or part of one and it was going to be just brilliant as soon as he learnt to play the guitar.
Two and a half years ago I was caught up in his enthusiasm. I believed his dreams. I still believe he has them, but whether he will ever try to reach them is questionable.
I said it first, “Happy Valentines day”.
“Oh yeah, you too”, and from somewhere he produced a bunch of sorry flowers that looked like they had come from the servo.
“We need to talk”, my words hung in the air like his smoke.
I went on, finding courage in his silence. I told him I couldn’t keep doing this, that I had to go. He was lost, confused, totally unaware of what had hit him.
“Today? Valentines day?”
Leaving through the front door I could see the last whispers of the day. I breathed in the morsels of tomorrow, knowing that love should be celebrated, not kept in a smoky darkened room. Truth was the gift I gave myself and the one I gave him, and it didn’t cost me a cent.