second chances at the farmers market

It is a mild Summer's day. Kids are out, pigging out on ice cream, while the grannies take their naps side by side on a bench under a tree. The outdoor market is bustling with people, lounging in the sun and the warm weather. I'm admiring the flowers I'm about to buy when the sun seem to strike me, the joyous noise around me fading away.

It's unlikely for me to be wrong, because I've heard him say my name a million times.

You only know what I want you to
I know everything you don't want me to

He is standing across the street, same height, same face, same copper hair.

We were 16 when we fell in love. Young, naive, deliciously wild and wide-eyed. He asked me to be his girlfriend right after we graduated and a second didn't pass when I said yes. He was my best friend from years back and somehow I always knew the day would happen.

Your mouth is poison
Your mouth is wine

He smiles at me.

It is the same smile he gave me when he said we could do it — being together and being apart. Just a few states away, flying back and forth on holidays or on romantic whims. There were a million ways to communicate, he said, we would always find a way. But days and weeks went by and phone calls couldn't match the way he looked at me when we talk nor the way his hand felt when we stroll.

He mouths he'll come over.

The shock is still in my fingers, but I can't help myself — I grin back at him.

You think your dreams are the same as mine

He looks out as he crosses, pushes his way into people.

I forget about the flowers I don't know I'm clenching, take a deep breath, and face his way.

He came to the apartment a day after he graduated college. I came home late from work and he was at my door, napping. A deceitful surprise when he said he'd fly in weeks after. I didn't know what to do so I slapped him from his dreams while I cried. I let him in and he kissed me like he's home.

In the morning, I woke up and he was watching me. I looked at him and asked if he wanted coffee. He smiled and said he wanted to marry me.

I don't love you but I always will

"Hi," I say as I give him a hug.

"Wow, this is amazing," he says, his gray eyes finding mine.

"It is."

I didn't know what to say not to hurt him, to soften the blow. I rehearsed it so many times in my head, but I still stared at him with a blank on my face. I pushed the words out and knew we couldn't go back to the way we used to.

He always had a plan and that always included me. I loved him for it, but I wanted one thing — a choice, a deviation, a slight change. It didn't matter to him if we were different people when we fell in love; what mattered to him was that we fell in love. It didn't occur to him that maybe, just maybe, plans could change, and that I have changed. I was different from when he loved me when I was 16, and he was too, but it didn't matter to him because there was a plan and the plan was me — the plan was him and me.

I wish you'd hold me when I turn my back
The less I give, the more I get back

I held his hand and kept the ring in it.

"I can't, I'm sorry."

He bowed his head and didn't speak; I wished he did. I wished he lashed out on me, anything but the awful surrender in his silence. But he stood up, got his pack, looked at me, and left without even slamming the door. He didn't even yell at me nor ask me what the fck I was thinking. No. He just accepted it like it was written in some grand plan. That he failed and wrote his personal notes wrong.

I wished he asked me to change my mind, or told me that he's willing to wait til we figure it out. Or fight for me. I wished he let the plan go.

I wished he held me instead.

Your hands can heal
Your hands can bruise

We met at the coffee shop days after, our usual spot eerie.

"I'm going to take the job abroad," he said, looking at the cup at his grip.

"Don't you want to talk about this," I reached out to his hands.

"I think we've already thought about this," he paused and lifted his eyes on me. "Do you still love me?"

"Of course I do."

"Are you still in love with me?"

"Why," I said, letting go of his hands. "Are you still in love with me?"

I don't have a choice but I still choose you

I committed myself to work, traveling across continents. I met a lot of people and figured how to be with myself. I relished in my singleness, my freedom, the thing I had no idea of. I had to know, I had to meet myself just me. But moments come when I'm alone in a crowd or when the lights are off, he would cross my mind. The thoughts would come rushing in and I wished I kept on holding on to his hands that day.

I don't love you but I always will

"It has been a while! Wow, how long has it been? Four years?" I smile, genuinely happy to see him. "What brings you here?"

"I came here to see you, actually," he says quickly, almost embarrassed. He looks at me, checking my reaction.

I don't know what to say, but I felt my smile become brighter.

"Listen, are you free today?"

"Yeah, coffee?"

"Yes, please. We need to catch up!"

"Of course, you need to tell me which hipster barber convinced you to grow that beard of yours!" I laughed.

His face lightened up.

Maybe I thought wrong. Maybe the plan got the delayed. But maybe, just maybe, it was at work all along.