It was when I looked at the flowers that I was finally certain, because I thought of them first, instead of him. They were violets, as delicate as they were vibrant (and the way he smiled, delicate and vibrant, before we had to lie to say we’d make it). And yes, it still hurt, but just an instant before regret seeped into my mind like cold water, there was real, genuine joy, a bit of peace that wasn’t tied back to him.
It was the sun, too. I felt it on my skin and I paused, because it was warmer than the ghost of his touch (the nights we spent together, the disapproval of his parents, the stress, the hiding, the frustration, desperately chasing acceptance we’d never have). Funny, the most subtle of shifts always seems to change my world the most. I guess I could call it cautious optimism.
Everything was going to be okay, I told myself (everything is going to be okay, I tried to tell him. We can move, I said, but I was grasping at straws and we’d already drowned)