the space between the stars

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George walks into the party, met by a wave of cheers from our classmates, and looks straight at me.

Oh, I'd let myself hope. I'd imagined, like black and white frames of an old movie, him walking towards me. Captions reading I'm sorry I ever walked away. His arms around me, a romantic dip, a kiss, approving applause—

George's carefree, I'm a winner  smile drops when he sees me.

He knew I'd be here. Maybe, while I was hoping he'd smile at me, he was hoping I'd graciously back out of the room. Being so close to each other is clearly disgusting to him and I'd turn away if I could. The trouble is, the masochistic part of me which still adores him has latched itself onto the ghost of his smile and is holding me hostage until I see it again.

His eyes drop to the floor, fed up of my face, and he turns to his friends—his real friends, rather than whatever the fuck I am. A mistake? A memory? His hand comes up to habitually mess in his hair, tugging at strands he thinks are wrong, and I want to tell him to stop. I want to take his fingers between mine and kiss his hair, telling him it's perfect and you're perfect and I love you.

Instead, I let the room move between us and I back away until I'm against a wall.

I knew seeing him would hurt. I'm furious with myself for thinking he'd have changed, but I'm still hoping for some sort of sign of apology or remorse.

Since he saw me on Monday morning—since he looked at me with an ashen face and terrified eyes—I've known this is my future. I knew, from the moment his lips slipped into a disappointed oh, that every time I saw him it would be a knife through my ribs.

I know this. I know the memories of our week together won't fade, especially if I keep staring at him and indulging in this pain, but I can't help it. I watch him, from the other side of the room, and can't believe how far apart we've fallen.

The distance between us is the same as the distance between stars.

He's right there. I could walk up to him and kiss him, like I did last Friday, but there's an unnavigable void between us. He's so close I can smell his aftershave, but I'm not cool enough and he isn't out and his friends just wouldn't understand—

I need to get over him. Fast.

I turn away, facing the wall, and take my phone out. I'm searching for a distraction—anything—and it buzzes right on cue.

G: Matthew, I'm so sorry. Talk outside???? I'm so so fucking sorry

The masochist in me smiles. I told you so. I glance over my shoulder and see him through a gap in the party, holding his phone and staring at me, heartbroken.

M: okay

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