If love hurts so badly, then why do people choose to fall into it? If it steals every breath and chokes every emotion until you’re left with nothing, why? I thought I understood, but that was before, when I was living in bliss.

            I continued work, interviewing Steve and writing articles, but I avoided speaking to anyone unless I had to. Hours in the night were spent pacing around my apartment, frightening myself with horrid imaginings of what might be happening to him. When I did fall asleep, it would be with a face stained with tears and nightmares haunting my dreams.

            I tried not to let anyone catch me in my grief, but Riley often did. He would roll in to my office in his wheelchair with coffee or just for a talk. Somehow, he seemed to understand what I was going through. Then one day I knew.

            It was a rainy spring day. I had just returned to my office after an interview with Steve. He had brought up James, attempting to comfort me with his shared grief. All it did was shake up my emotions and send me back to my office in tears.

            I quickly slipped into my office and closed the door, letting the tears flow. In those moments of being alone, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to all the times James had held me while I cried. It seemed that he had seen me cry too often. Now, without him there to dry my tears, I drowned in my pain.

            A knock at my door had me wiping away the tears and gathering myself. The door swung open and Riley rolled in. He came around my desk to where I was sitting.

            “It must be hard…to be alone while you cry,” Riley started.

            I didn’t answer at first. I couldn’t even express the gratitude I felt for him. “You don’t have to do this, Riley.”

            “I know, but I want to. It must be some comfort that I know how you are feeling,” he replied, folding his hands in his lap.

            I looked at him, wondering what he meant. “I know what it feels like to be torn away from someone you love.”

            My eyebrows creased. “Riley…you don’t mean Ale—“

            “No. I don’t mean Alexa. I mean…Heather.”

            I sank into my seat, wishing we could end the conversation there.

            “I loved her too, you know,” he pressed.

            “I know. Everyone did,” I mumbled, my gaze falling on the rain out the window.

            “No, El. I was in love with her.”

            My eyes darted back to him. There were no words left for me to say.

            “I just want you to know that you’re not alone, however much it feels like it.” And with that he rolled out of my office, leaving to me ponder his words.


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