Finding Me (His, #3)
June 1, 2015
I came here to escape. Leave the debris and avoid the inevitable truths.
Things are better.
I’m finding me, but in the process I fear I’m forgetting those I have left, and the ones who have left me. Maybe I’m losing who I was.
Can I forget my past and move forward?
Can I forget him?
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Walking the short distance through the apartment and down to the parking lot, time slows down, allowing me to fixate on the fact that I look like a mess, and feel like I’m walking too straight. I slump my shoulders slightly to try and look more relaxed and then feel even more awkward, and straighten again and feel even more rigid.
He unlocks the truck with the press of a button and unlike he did when we rode in his Jeep together, he doesn’t come to open the passenger door. I’m still debating if I wanted him to when I notice a water bottle lying in the middle seat. It was mine. I carried it in here from the hospital Sunday. I never would have remembered it if I didn’t see it again, that entire night is sort of a blur, but at some point, someone had passed it to me while we waited for the doctor. I don’t remember carrying it out. It’s still mostly full, showing proof I barely touched it. Did I carry it out?
The truck starts with a soft rumble. It sounds so different than his Jeep. My mind turns with the gears. What do I say to the guy that was everything and is now supposed to mean nothing to me? This silence is unbearably uncomfortable. I can’t stop from guessing what he’s thinking. Is he wishing I wasn’t here? In his truck? In California?
“So, how’s medical school?”
Max’s head turns and his eyes focus on me for a second before he turns back to the road. I keep my attention on him, confused by his delayed response. Of all topics, this seems like a safe route. “I have my own set of flashcards.”
I smile out of relief more than humor. “I used the wrong set of flashcards to study for a test last semester.” I shake my head and release a short breath. “It’s amazing that I passed it.”
“I bet you got an A on the paper, didn’t you?”
I glance at Max and he’s looking at me. His head shakes and a soft chuckle mingles with the music. “You’re the smartest person I know. You’re astrophysicist material.”
“Says the guy studying to be a brain surgeon.”
My laughter fills the truck. It’s not even that his joke was all that funny, but having an easy conversation with Max makes laughing easier. Better. When my laughter fades into a smile I expect to feel the same stab of nostalgia I experienced earlier with the knowledge that I will miss this, but I don’t. I simply appreciate the moment, and attempt to stretch it. “Do you remember the Maximus flashcard?”
Max’s truck pulls into a parking spot, and he shifts into park before turning to me. “I remember everything.” His tone is solemn, but his face is relaxed. I keep his stare without abashment. I want to stay here and continue to draw out this moment. To feel this emotion that’s flushing through me, warming me, and filling me with something I have forgotten about. I don’t know how to describe it: it’s not the same comfort that I get from being around my sisters, or the adrenaline I receive when I reach that point while running; it’s a rightness, a completeness that makes my heart swell and my smile broaden. My head starts to race with interpretations of what this means, but a fog fills my thoughts because I know. My heart understands exactly what he’s saying to me … I think.
“I do too.” My admission makes me feel brave.
My phone rings, and we’re back in his driveway almost two years ago when his phone rang, back to where neither of us knows how to say the right thing to one another, but this time it’s both of us walking a gray tightrope, one that felt less intimidating to cross because I could see him at the other side.
His eyes close and he looks embarrassed, or possibly ashamed. It awakens old tendencies, making me question the reality of the moment. My phone rings again, and Max’s entire body shifts away from me. Opening the door, he climbs out in one fluid movement.
I don’t know if I can go out there and face him right now. I feel as though he’s rejecting me all over again, and it makes my eyes and throat burn.
About The Author
Mariah Dietz lives in Eastern Washington with her husband and two sons that are the axis of her crazy and wonderful world.
Mariah grew up in a tiny town outside of Portland, Oregon where she spent the majority of her time immersed in the pages of books that she both read and created.
She has a love for all things that include her sons, good coffee, books, travel, and dark chocolate. She also has a deep passion for the stories she writes, and hopes readers enjoy the journeys she takes them on, as much as she loves creating them.