A Long Run Home.

This is a stab at what I saw here.

The sunlight darted in from the blinds, waking him up.  With a groan, he propped himself up on the hospital bed, which proved to be quite the hurdle.  Eyes closed still, he slumped forward and sighed heavily, breathing in, then out. In, then out. He looked out the window, watching as cars overtook one another in the endless Indian run that they called a highway.

“Why’d you ask for me to come?”

Turning left, his heart raced as he broke into a smile.

“Sarah!”

A light snort escaped her – she was taken aback by his enthusiasm.  No sooner had she smiled at him than she saw a strange look dart across his face.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m so sorry.  How are we going to go to the fair when I’m in the hospital?”

“The fair? What fair?”

Confusion spread itself along his eyebrows.  He opened his mouth, looking down and away before speaking.

“I – I was going to take you to the fair for your birthday.  It is today, isn’t it?”

“What?”

Her eyes narrowed, and the disgust began to rise within her.  He had that stupid look on his face, like he knew he said something wrong, and he was going to apologize – again. It never stopped. What he said did jog a memory of when they had gone to the fair for her last birthday nine months ago, however, ending with the two of them not speaking to each other as they drove home in sullen silence and suffocating traffic.  The nurse came in, and she took the opportunity to ask her about his state of mind.  She told her about what he had said, and the nurse just shook her head and gave the diagnosis they had so far.  It seemed he had forgotten what had happened over the past few months, and he even thought the hospital was pulling a prank on him by having the month of the calendar in the room changed.  She looked back at him and saw him with his head down, tears streaking down onto his shirt.

“I’m really sorry, Sarah. I can’t believe you’re even here for me when it’s your birthday.  I just wanted to make sure that the spot I wanted to take you to at night to see fireworks was still there, and next thing I know, I can’t even take you there.  You don’t have to be here with me, you know; I understand if you’d rather spend it with your girlfriends or your family.”

She smiled, almost laughing at how he used to be so consumed with self-pity; he was the only headwind in his own otherwise brilliant life.  So he had really forgotten the past nine months, huh? She could just imagine how he listened to her before things started falling apart, staring intently into her eyes and soaking up every word. She loved that about him. She loved how well he listened and how much he thought about what she had said. She remembered being just fascinated by him and constantly just thinking about the way he thought.  Maybe this was their chance to change things and keep love alive.

But no, it was inevitable that he’d become the person she eventually saw.  He chased after his own sense of comfort, ignoring her when she was going through obstacles in her own life, yet expecting her to sprint to his side when he stubbed his toe.  He was selfish and self-centered, and she was glad that she saw who he’d become later on in the relationship.  Yet, how was she supposed to tell him that they had been broken up for four months already?

“Hey, there’s something I need to tell you.”

He looked up at her, desperate for a sign of forgiveness, and yet, his gaze was also tinged with resignation to the fact that he’d be crazy to expect her to spend her whole birthday with him in the hospital.  Then, when she was about to continue, he figured it out.

“Are you – are you breaking up with me?”

She sighed, and looked down at her hands.  What else could she do? She didn’t want a repeat performance of the worst months of her life.

“Sarah, whatever it is, I’m sorry.  I know I was stupid for going out so late at night, but I just wanted things to be perfect for your birthday. I know how hard you tried to make my birthday nothing short of a miracle, and I just wanted to do the same for you.  I’m sorry for always making things about me, for only being concerned about what I wanted, when I wanted it.  You deserve so much more than that because you have such a beautiful heart; with its every beat, I learn a new melody.  You’ve taught me so much about myself and what I need to work on, and even though it’s taken a while, I hope you can tell that I’ve at least been trying.  I’ve spent all this time running away from you, but this whole time, you’ve been keeping up with me, running by my side, at my pace.  I love you more and more, and I don’t want to run away anymore.”

She held back tears – what was she doing? She said that she wasn’t going to cry over him anymore, that he was dead to her, that she was going to just forget him.  She realized that the reason he fell asleep at the fair on her birthday wasn’t because he was bored of her.  He did the same thing the night before her birthday all those months ago.  He was such a stupid, stupid boy. But she loved that about him too.  With her eyes closed, she breathed in, then out; she glanced at him, and saw that he had already been staring at her.

“It is an exhausting marathon, isn’t it?”

He nodded slowly, his heartbreak seeping through the catch in his throat.

“Then let’s keep running together until the end.”

What else could she say?

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