It was humid, thick, but not nearly as bad as years past.
We sat on the edge of the stone bench. I was careful to balance my feet on toe tops so my thighs would not squish against the concrete, making that unsightly dimpled effect that reminded me no matter how much I ran, I would never be a little girl.
I was wearing a plain white tank top and denim shorts, much bigger than the last time I put them on. They were nearly a decade old and terribly out of fashion but they were the only pair of shorts I owned, having abandoned them in recent years in favor of capri pants and board shorts that covered more of my birthmarks, ugly brown softball size pools of self-hatred and disgust.
Thankfully, it was too hot to care and besides, it was nothing he hadn't seen before.
We sat on the stone bench. I rocked side to side, my sit bones beginning to hurt. We were careful not to touch. There had been thousands of moments just like this one, with him, with others. Sitting in stillness, in silence, hovering in the place just before touch.
It was the moment I longed for and dreaded in equal parts. It was the top of the roller coaster, no where to go but down.
I talked to myself. In my head, I held lengthy boisterous conversations. I relaxed into the voices of my imagination knowing if I could sit with them a little longer than I wouldn't have to speak to him. Speaking would only speed the decent and this hovering moment of possibility would be forced to choose a direction. So for a brief respite, the voices in my mind were able to keep each other at bay and I sat and stared into the distance, into nowhere in particular, praying I would not have to go first.
We sat as crowds past and the sun set and the lights of the city rose up before us to kiss the stars. We sat and waited and on the occasion when our flesh brushed together in casual passing, the spot on the small of my back, the one my mother had always feared I might defile with a tattoo began to seize and ache and quiver.
I know there were words exchanged, pleasantries, idle conversation but they never permeated my heart. They just rolled from my lips, from his lips, down to the grass on the path made by beads of sweat succumbing to the denseness of the day.
When it was time to go, when the hours could no longer be justified and leaving seemed to be the only appropriate thing to do, we rose and stood eye to eye. I went to offer a deliberate embrace, warm but distant. Instead he took my right hand into his left and placed his other on the small of my back, right where the ache lived, and I could swear for a moment that he could feel it quiver.
We danced. Silently. Under the not quite full moon. Without music and without concern that we were being watched by a steady stream of passersby.
It was the end. I knew the moment we stopped dancing it would be the end. It should have been the end. I wish it would have been the end.
It would have been perfect. But it was never going to be perfect, even in its ending. I would hold on longer than I ever should and this moment would be diluted in a sea of anger and bitterness and resentment. I would all but forget this, our not quite perfect, not quite final goodbye.
Until today, when there was nothing left to feel but a fondness for simple memories and a grateful melancholy in knowing each bittersweet goodbye is just another fresh start, waiting patiently to begin.