He rubbed the nape of his neck. “Well, no,” he replied. “I almost did, but I couldn’t.” By that time, I couldn’t speak anymore. The first tear fell, and then the flow could not be stemmed. He didn’t make any move to comfort me, the way I had seen him do with Chloe and the other female friends who had cried in his presence. I added that to my list of things I wanted to ask him why he did not do. He knew the questions I could no longer pronounce so he continued to talk. “You didn’t see your own beauty so you’re not capable of appreciating it. You didn’t love yourself. You still don’t. You rely on other people to love you for you.”
I sobbed. My chest felt like it was going to explode. I tried to rub my eyes dry of tears, but they stayed traitorously wet. His words hurt. I didn’t want to hear them anymore. I pressed on the remote of my car alarm and felt for the door handle again because my blurred vision made finding it by sight a bit difficult.
Terrence didn’t move to stop me. He didn’t move at all. He just kept talking. “I couldn’t fall in love with you because you needed someone who could love you for the both of you. I don’t have that much love inside me, Alice.”
I finally managed to open the car door and I collapsed onto the driver’s seat. My legs were numb and I couldn’t bring them into the car, so I stayed seated with my feet firmly on the pavement. “If you find me awful, then just say it. Don’t try to sugarcoat things with philosophical words.”
“Do you love Max?” Terrence asked.
I nodded. It was a dumb question. Of course I did.
“So you give him everything
I nodded again.
“He has to give you twice as much, because he has to give you what you don’t give yourself. Do you understand, now?”
I shook my head, despite the fact that I understood full and well. Understanding is different from knowing in your heart, because ‘knowing’ requires both understanding and believing. I couldn’t believe him. That was the big difference.
“You’ve no loose ends with me, we tied those up when we left high school and told ourselves high school was over. You’ve loose ends with yourself that you’ve had since high school and those are the ones that are aching to be tied up.”
Terrence left me in my car, crying my eyes out. By the time I managed to exhaust the
Max was calling to ask me how my reunion was turning out.
And all I could tell him was that it went well. “So well, in fact that, I have no reason to ever come back.”