To the one I hope hasn't gotten away

Hi, dear. It’s me. Your fly on the wall. Always a couple rows behind you in class, so I can catch a glimpse of the back of your curls when my eyes move from PowerPoint to my notes. Sometimes our eyes meet, but we both do a little dance when they do, like neither one of us wants to be caught sneaking a peek but neither wants to be the first to look away completely. Like we’re making sure the other isn’t looking…or hasn’t looked away. 

It’s been a while since we’ve last seen each other. For the first time since I’ve known you existed, we have no lectures together, no designated time for me to pluck up the courage to try and sit near you. That sometimes makes me think it’s too late. I had my shot and now I’ve lost it. Are you the one that got away? 

People holding hands Photo by Octavio Fossatti on Unsplash We talked once before. Or twice. They were short, just normal greetings. Anyone else looking would think we’re friends, classmates, friends of friends. But we weren’t. At most, we were familiar strangers. Vague friends. 

You came up to me first. I caught your mop of curls in a sea of blondes and backpacks, waiting to leave. I saw you from where I stood on top of the slanted floors, controlling the crowd. I think I saw you first, but maybe not. Maybe we can debate about it if we ever meet again. Over coffee maybe?

The Lalaguy Hands On Breakfast Date Waffles And Hashbrowns Her Campus Media We caught each other’s eyes, and I could tell we were going to start our dance again. I don’t know what came over me. Was it the fatigue, the distance, or just the way you looked that day? I raised my hand in a wave and a friendly smile. All I wanted was a wave back, since we had never so much as exchanged an obligatory ‘hi’ in class. But you gave me so much more. My heart still sprints a mile whenever I remember you nod your chin in recognition and traverse your way through the masses up the slant. Up towards me. 

(If you really have gotten away from me for good, I just want you to know, that will never not put a smile on my face.)

That made me think we had a chance, that maybe we were going to find our way to each other. One just had to have the courage. Or we both had to have the courage to continue to take a step in each other’s direction.

You waited for me once, after class. You came in late and sat behind me. I was looking around the small lecture hall when I didn’t see your strangely familiar -or was it familiarly strange?- silhouette in your usual spot, a quiet distance away from the rest of your friends (like you were letting them know you’d like to talk to them, but they didn’t need to feel the pressure to; or maybe it was your way of letting them know you didn’t feel the need to talk to them—you always were mysterious) when I caught you, rustling with loose leaf sheets of paper for notes. The entire class, I didn’t know if I should slouch or sit straight. You made me very nervous. You still do. 

At the end of class I tried packing up slowly so I could time it right, the chance to talk to you. But again, you did something so much more. I saw you, all packed up, backpack on, standing there. Just standing there. As if waiting. Were you waiting for me? Maybe you can tell me if we ever meet again. I looked up and I smiled. 

“Hi,” I breathed.

“How are you?” you sighed. Do I detect a hint of joy, or is that just an echo of my own? 

woman smiling Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash I leapt with joy when we parted ways after walking out of class side by side. Could you tell that you made my day? Could you see the blush peeking its way through the curtain of my hair? 

Then something happened along the way, and both of us stopped trying. Was it midterms, the impending winter? Or did we realize something before anything more could happen?

Maybe I should have seen it coming, the end. I thought maybe we were too alike, too scared by the unknown to step into it. Look how long it took for either of us to even dip our toes. I’ve tried forgetting you, tried to convince myself it was a nice fantasy—that you were a nice fantasy. I should have let you go, the same way I think you’ve decided to let go. I should leave you as the one that got away. Yet somehow, you keep coming back. So I wanted to let you know; I hope you haven’t gotten away. I don’t want you to be just a fantasy anymore.

Until we meet again. Goodbye.