it hit him one night as he was about to go to sleep. she was in love with me. he felt the revelation course through his body and settle as a dull ache in the space right beneath his ribs. she was in love with me and i made her leave.
he threw the covers off and went straight to the bathroom cabinet. it had to still be there, there’s no reason for it to be gone. like her. there it was, on the second shelf: the vintage straight blade he received as a christmas gift 2 years ago. as his fingers stroked the beech handle, he found he could recall exactly what she said the night he held it for the first time.
“now you can make yourself as handsome as you want to be.” then the smile, her smile, the one that came with a question in her eyes. at the time, he was taken aback. sometime in june, he mentioned old barbershops and shaving with a knife, the control it gave, the versatility. he said it in passing, with a laugh. guess she didn’t take it in passing.
it’s funny how regret makes you remember things. he now remembers her asking about the rabbit’s tail in his car and the easy laugh when he sheepishly told her that it’s for luck. he can smell the scent of her perfume, the one she got on her 23rd birthday (how did he know that? he wondered).
most of all he remembered her smile, the lopsided one that could have been a smirk if it didn’t also radiate sincerity. he was never sure if she was teasing him and that made him a little uneasy in her presence. she had such good insight, at times he felt his soul left bare when he was around her. she made him feel vulnerable. in his foolish youth, he couldn’t see it was just what he needed.
she left before the next christmas. her goodbye was a little too cheerful, out of character for someone who always seemed preoccupied in her thoughts. but he was distracted by the new environment he had to get accustomed to and thought nothing of it. i’ll see you around. take care!
on hindsight, she began backing out of his life long before that day in december. guess she realised there were other people more worthy of keeping.
he sat on the edge of the bed, twirling the shaving knife in his hand. after years of confusion and uncertainty, he was never more sure of what he wanted: her. he wanted her in his life. he wanted the small things that made her invaluable – her way with words, her skeptical eyebrow, her eerily accurate observations, her silent concentration when listening.
and her smile. that maddeningly enigmatic smile.
he didn’t get any sleep that night.