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I haven't spoken to my best friend in three years.
We weren't actually even friends for very long, we just grew incredibly close, incredibly fast. I grew attached, in a more-than-friendship kind of way.
Then, one day I tried to make a move on him, in this more-than-friendship kind of way. Let's just say he didn't exactly reciprocate my feelings.
We haven't spoken since.
My old best friend's name was Kevin Faye.
I walk into our apartment, holding the mail and all of my stuff. It was a long day at work. Checking the phone messages, I toss the pile of mail onto the kitchen counter. I know he'll be home soon, but I turn on the television to add some life to the otherwise empty home.
As I put away the remains of a sack-lunch that I had brought to the office that day, I notice that something had slid a little farther than the rest of the mail. It was a little manila envelope with my name on it.
Feeling the package, it feels like there is a CD case inside.
My brow furrows as I wonder who would have left us a CD in our mailbox. Curious, I pry the clasp of the envelope open.
I feel my heart quickly turn to stone and drop into my stomach, swallowed up by sickly acid, at the sight of the sticky-note on the front. I am surprised to realize that I still recognize the sloppy penmanship instantly after all this time.
The note was brief: "Grace, track 8. -Kevin"
I peel it off and crumple it in my hand. I haven't thought about Kevin Faye in months. Well, not intentionally at least. He always manages to creep into my thoughts once in a while; the simplest, most random things will remind me of him. When Lost is on TV, or when I see a guy wearing a beanie, or hear a laugh similar to his. His little habits stuck with me through the years.
Pushing the memories out of the way, I turn to the CD. Without the sticky note I can see that it's called Words Like Vines; very Kevin.
Curious, but very tentative, I mute the TV and pop the disc into the CD player. Before I press play, I check the time. I don't want him to come home from work and see this; I wasn't even sure why. I wasn't doing anything wrong. I wasn't cheating, I wasn't...
But thinking of Kevin always gave me a little bit of guilt when he was around. I tried to tell myself to snap out of it; everyone has past, unrequited loves. But the way I had loved Kevin felt... different. And I had genuinely felt he had loved me too.
Which is what made it so hard when he rejected me.
I shake my head slightly, bringing an abrupt end to my reverie, and turn my attention back to the CD. I hesitated before pressing play. I skipped directly to track 8, trying to hear as little of Kevin’s voice as possible.
Checking the track list on the back of the case, I see that this one is called "Blame." I close my eyes, and listen.
I know it’s been a while
But I’ve been keepin’ this inside
It’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to you
But that day back then I lied
I look at all these faces
Not a one of them is you
If I could go back and change it all
I wouldn’t hesitate to…
Before I knew it, I was in tears. I listened intently to the rest of the song, making sure I caught every word, every strum of the guitar, every drum beat. Before I could stop myself, I feel a flutter of hope within my chest, a bird flapping it's wings after a long, stormy nightmare.
I reach out with my left hand to stop the player once the song ended, my right still clutching the case. I freeze as the light through the window caught my hand.
The small, shiny rock on my ring finger glistened and sparkled in the fading sunlight, accented by the gold band it was set in.
I gasped, and my hand dropped to my side. Shame and guilt rolled over me in waves, drowning me.
Kevin still loved me.
I had been right.
But it was too late.
I leaned against the wall, sobs racking my chest. The bird, flapping with hope just a moment ago, now felt weak and anguished.
I couldn't believe that for a moment there, I had truly... forgotten. Thought that I could finally return to what Kevin and I had shared two years ago.
With a few deep breaths, I was able to calm myself enough to do what I had to do. I cleaned my smeared make up, and ripped up the envelope he had sent me. I removed the CD from the player and snapped it with shaking hands. I threw it away once and for all. I knew he would not try to contact me if I did not respond to this; he knew me well enough to know that if a song did not reach me, nothing ever would.
It was too late to go back now.
I heard keys jiggle in the lock of the front door. I closed my eyes, trying to steady my breathing, as he walked into our home.
"How are you?" my fiancé asked, kissing my forehead.
"Fine," I replied nonchalantly.
The little bird lay dead.