Every time he felt down, he did the same thing. He took out his phone, opened up his voicemails, and played the last message she'd ever sent him.
"Hi baby! I just parked the car. I'm heading in to meet you inside. In case you forgot what I looked like while you were touring the world, I'm the tall girl with auburn hair. I'm wearing a blue sweater. Anyway I should stop talking and get in the airport so I can get my arms around you. I love you!"
He vividly remembered finding her outside of the baggage claim area at the airport a few minutes after he'd listened to the message. She'd rushed into his arms and he'd held her tight. If he closed his eyes, he could imagine exactly how she felt in his arms. He could smell the familiar scent of her shampoo. He could almost feel her long slim fingers pulling at his hair.
He played the message again.
She was so happy when she left that message. She'd loved him so much. He'd been gone for only a month but she was still so eager to see him. He knew it had not been easy for her to ask his family if she alone could pick him up that day. They'd missed him too, of course. But they knew how special she was. They knew he loved her more than the world.
He tossed the phone aside. He wasn't sure why he did this to himself. Why did he listen to the message when he was already feeling low? It's not like it would make him feel better. It only made things worse.
"Don't text her. Don't text her. Don't text her," he said to himself until the feeling to reach out to her passed.
It was always the same. He'd listen to the message and then he'd want to text her. He had so much to say that had gone unsaid. He wanted to say he was sorry. He wanted to say he still loved her. He wanted her back and wanted to tell her in a way that maybe made her listen.
They had met when she moved to his hometown of Pickering the summer before her sophomore year and his junior year. She lived next door to one of the girls in his circle of friends and was soon a part of the group. It was uncanny how someone new could fit in so well right away. Everyone just kind of forgot she'd just moved there; it was like she'd been there all along.
She was funny but never afraid to be the butt of the joke. She was not overly sensitive, so she'd laugh at herself when she did something stupid. He loved that about her long before he was ever in love with her. A girl with a good sense of humor was perfection.
Her easy-going attitude meant she could be close to the guys and the girls in their social circle. When guys are around their guy friends, they can act a certain way and be themselves. There's no need to put on an act or to try to impress. It was the same when she was around. He could have said anything to her without worrying that she'd judge him.
He'd had a girlfriend when she'd moved to his town. The best dating advice he got was from her. He'd been kind of terrified about sex before he'd had it. Even though she was a virgin, she talked to him about it frankly and openly. She was always honest. After he'd done it, he told her but told none of the guys for a while. When his girlfriend broke up with him, she was there to hold him when he cried.
He loved her, as a friend, almost immediately. Everyone did. Parents, teachers, everyone on her swim team- they all loved her.
He didn't fall in love with her until the spring of her senior year, though.
His music career was skyrocketing and he'd just finished a big world tour. His second album was doing well and he had another tour set to start soon. It's cliché to say it, but he was on top of the world.
He got home in March and was eager to reconnect with his friends. Most of the people from his year were off at college, but she was still there, finishing up her senior year. He called her the day he got back in town and she came right over. They hung out for hours in his basement catching up on each other's lives.
He was only home for five weeks, but in that short span of time, they fell in love.
It started when they took a walk through her neighborhood. The weather had just warmed up and bulbs were blooming in every yard. The world felt fresh and new and this made him feel alive.
They'd been walking, mostly talking about her plans for college. She wanted to be a teacher and was going to go to school in Quebec to accomplish this. As they walked, their hands swung at their sides. Occasionally they'd bump into each other. After this happened three or four times, she grabbed his hand. Their fingers intertwined, and just like that, everything changed.