I looked up to see snow starting to fall through the light of the streetlamp. Big, soft flakes spun lazily in the still night. I looked down then to see a few flakes settling on her long jet-black hair and small shoulders. I met her eyes for the first time in several minutes—tears had begun to run down her face. I was startled. I had never seen her cry like this. I had seen her cry a thousand times—great wracking sobs that shook her light frame for hours—but never this quiet, steady trickle. Some small thing broke in me watching her cry like that.
Dinner had been friendly if slightly distant. It felt like we had passed through something to a new state. We would now be friends. Life would continue, reconfigured. Standing outside the restaurant, as I watched her cry, I realized how wrong I was.
“Don’t go. Come home with me.”
“I can’t…you know I can’t. That’s not my home anymore.”
“You haven’t been seeing her that long…it can’t be…”
“I’m sorry. Listen…you were the one who ended things…I can’t…”
“I was wrong. I’m sorry. I need you so much. I didn’t realize…”
I closed my eyes. I had never heard her say anything like this to me before. Twenty-five dollars worth of sake and sushi rolled over angrily in my stomach. For a year she had denied me to her friends and family. If anyone ever asked her, we were just friends. We had lived together for a year but I was like a ghost in her life. Her family had never even heard my name.
“Come home with me. I love you.”
I opened my eyes and there were tears in them. I had waited so long and been through so much with her. A feeling crept over me that was a little like relief. I knew then for the first time that I didn’t want to go back. The guilt finally left me.
We talked a little more without rancour and then said goodbye—a last kiss. She turned and started down the empty street without looking back. I watched her small form disappear around the corner, in the snow.
I never saw or spoke to her again.