by James Wyatt
Young ex-lovers finally say goodbye. Based on a true story, ha.
| He ran. He ran so fast, and all he could think of was when he left her.
It was a night not really anything like this one. Around eight o'clock, Jack and William were leaving for Florida. Jack was leaving his girlfriend, Riley, all alone.
They stood outside Jack's car, Riley's tears pouring down her face. Jack thought it should have been raining, it was too sad for it not to be. He held her close, and she held him tighter then she ever did before. Before this, she would say "It's for the best, right?"
"Right. I need this," he would say to her.
"I know, but I don't want you to go...I hate Florida."
"I know you do baby. It'll be okay, we're tough. We'll make it, we always do."
Not that night. No, she held him so tight and if she could utter any words, it would've been stay. Stay here, stay with me, don't leave. Just don't leave. And all Jack could do was frown, and utter small, useless words of encouragement.
This night, as Jack ran, he watched his shadow. His shadow ran beside him, keeping step. Jack's legs were burning, but it didn't really matter. He had to go see her, because she was leaving him tonight. He was going to be there.
That night so long ago, when Riley had calmed down enough to talk, words wouldn't come. Not to her, or her boyfriend.
"I love you so much Riley," Jack strained.
"Then why are you leaving me?" she asked.
"I don't even know..." he said, and she pulled him close again, the tears dripping.
Jack wanted to leave so bad that night, and yet he wanted to stay too. He and William had worked so hard to raise the money, sold everything they had, and were mere minutes away from the road. Yet Jack considered calling it all off, because he could not bear to see this girl cry. He couldn't dare leave her like this...but he did.
"I have to go, Rye." he said. This only caused more tears, and he slowly puller her apart from him. He looked down into her red eyes and started to cry himself. Then he kissed her, gave one last hug, and slightly pushed her towards her house. She begrudgingly walked, sobbing.
Jack's legs started to give out, and for a brief moment had to walk. "You better be there, baby," he said out loud, and picked up pace again.
He sat in his car for a moment, silent. William didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything. Maybe he was afraid that anything Jack would say would stop their trip. Maybe Jack would start crying. Maybe Will knew that silence was the best thing. Jack would never know what William thought, it wasn't something that needed to be known. All Jack did was start the car, and pull into Riley's driveway.
"I LOVE YOU, RILEY!" he yelled. If she ever yelled back, he wouldn't know. Odds are she tried, but couldn't. Then he reversed, and hit the road.
On this night, Jack wondered why he came back to Michigan. People asked him that all the time, and he always said for his mom. That was only partly true, he had wanted so bad to get back together with Riley. He gave up a good job, a good life, and new friends to go back home, just so he could be with her again. It didn't work. She had moved on, found new boys, and was trying to make her life work on her own. She didn't need Jack anymore to take care of her, she was tough. She had always been tough.
Jack fought so hard to stay with her while he was gone, but deep down he knew it was over. He didn't realize it until later, when he was back, but he knew. She had come to visit him one time, for a couple days. It was as happy as he had ever been, and things seemed perfect. They could make it, they could! A weird thing happened one night, and Jack couldn't explain it until he found himself running down a road at four in the morning.
On their way back from a day on the docks, Riley had fallen asleep in the car. Jack drove, listening to his music. He kept glancing over at her perfectly content face. And then, he started to cry. He cried hard, but kept on driving.
"Riley," he said between sobs, "Riley wake up."
"What? What's the matter?" she murmured.
"I love you."
"I love you too, why are you crying?"
"Because I love you so much...I just love you."
"Oh baby, it's okay."
"It hurts baby."
Jack had finally arrived at Suzie Q's parking lot, where he told Riley to meet him. His legs begged him to sit, but Jack refused. He walked around the lot, glancing at cars and wishing he had better vision. She wasn't there.
There wasn't much to do but sit down, light a cigarette, and watch the cars. The night was cold, and the liquor in Jack's stomach wasn't happy with his little marathon. A couple girls walked by to get a bite to eat, laughing about how bad this restaurant was. Jack wasn't helping to change their minds; a scruffy, long haired guy in an old hoody smoking a cigarette was giving them disapproving glares. He threw his cigarette and stood up, began to look around the parking lot again.
"Jack?" a voice came from somewhere ahead of him.
"Rye?" he responded, quickening his pace through the cars. He saw a door opening on a green truck, and a familiar girl getting out.
"I got here as fast as I could, " Jack said between breaths. Riley smiled.
"You still driving Colleen?" she asked.
"Yeah, but not tonight. I was drinking. I ran here, I ran so fast..."
"You were at a party, right? I heard about that, Sandy's?"
"You hear a lot, don't you?"
"Yeah. I heard you and Lucy got together."
"Yeah..." Jack said, scratching his head. Lucy was the girl that always made Riley nervous.
"I always knew you liked her."
"I guess. But, when you and I were together, I never thought about it. But once I came back, she was there for me, you know..."
He pulled her in close, and gave her a hug. She wrapped her arms around her, shivering. Then she pulled back.
"Don't do that, you hug me now," he said, chuckling.
"Baby, it's cold," she laughed. She said is just the way she used to, clutching her sides. Never dressed for the weather.
"I had to be here for you, just like you were there when I left."
"I know. It's not as teary though, I'm not moving six states away."
"I know, but even so. I had to be here. Now, I want you to know, that guy in the car, and anyone you date..."
"I'm not dating Bill..."
"I know, it didn't work or something... But anyone you date is not good enough for you, got it? That's my opinion, okay?"
"Okay," she laughed.
"I'm always gonna love you Rye."
"I'll always love you."
"Now you come here and give me hug and a kiss goodbye."
"I'd give you a ride home, but Bill's being a dick," she said, looking at the ground.
"That's okay, I need to walk home anyway."
"Be careful, the cops are out tonight."
"Alright, I will be. Safe trips Rye."
"You too Jack. Goodbye."
"Goodbye," he said, and started to walk home. It was only a couple blocks, and he could go for some silence again.
Riley got in the car, shivered and cranked the heat. Bill looked over at her, and frowned.
"That was him? The boyfriend for so long?" he asked, spitefully.
"Yeah, that's Jack," she said, smiling.
"Didn't look like much."
Riley glared over at him, and put the truck into gear. Then the two of them drove to her house.
Jack arrived home a little later. He walked inside, and looked over at Lucy, watching TV and sipping a drink. She looked up at him, and smiled. He fell into her lap, and she kissed his forehead.
"You okay?" she asked.
"I had to see her," he responded.
"I'm sorry I worried you."
"I love you Lucy. Thank you."
"I love you too Jack."
Then Jack slowly fell asleep as Lucy ran her fingers through his hair. All he could do was pray he never had to run like that again.