She was the catalyst. Everything was suddenly erupting into an all-consuming fireball that would determine everything that ever mattered to him. She taught him everything he wanted in a love, and everything he wanted in his life. She taught him to find happiness in her smile, and to find joy in her laughter. She made him desire nothing more than her happiness. She didn’t do it on purpose, but her smile was so beautiful, her laughter so contagious, and her love so amazing that it became all he ever wanted.
And then she was gone. And he was shattered.
He did his best to gather the broken pieces of himself and live without her. As he got further in time from her, he began to see her everywhere he looked. Not her, only fragments. He wanted her, so he tried to gather those fragments. Sometimes they had her eyes. Or her hair. Occasionally they had her strength. Rarely, they had her light. Even more rarely, they had her darkness. It was his need for her darkness that got him into trouble.
Sarah had her attitude and strength. Sarah was someone who wasn’t afraid to take what she wanted, just like her. But unlike her, Sarah was fickle. Sarah wasn’t just strong, Sarah was a bit of a narcissist. When she took what she wanted, what she wanted was for both of them to be happy. But when Sarah took what she wanted, she only wanted what was good for Sarah. Eventually Sarah did take what she wanted, and it wasn’t him.
Lindsey had her darkness. Lindsey was very dark indeed. His attraction to her was instant, and the passion between them was off the charts. He was addicted to her and dove in head first. But unlike her, Lindsey’s darkness didn’t provide a light. The passion became drama, and he became imprisoned in his desire to maintain a hold on some fragment of the her he always wanted. Eventually, the passion faded, and the darkness was exchanged for grey. As unhappy as that made him, it allowed him to gather his own fragmented strength and walk away.
Tiffany had her light. Tiffany had her compassion. Tiffany had her love. And even though he did not know it at first, Tiffany also had her darkness. Tiffany was great, and had almost all the fragments of her. He started to forget about her and the reason he so loved the fragments of her that made Tiffany so wonderful to be with. Tiffany seemed to have it all. He was blissfully happy. But there was one major fragment she had that Tiffany did not. He didn’t realize it, but it would prove to be their undoing. Tiffany lacked her trustworthiness. Tiffany never cheated or betrayed him in any major way, but it seemed that she had a compulsion to tell the little lies about things that were really inconsequential. Eventually, they proved to be too much and after one fight, he left.
He spent a while after that alone. He started to question every decision he had made since she was gone. Tiffany was trying to get back together and he was tempted to cave, knowing that almost all the fragments were better than none. But he just knew he couldn’t accept her dishonesty, no matter how little her lies were. He eventually decided to look for someone who would just be good for him, whether she had any fragments of her or not.
He met Marie online. She was stable. She shared his views on the world. She was easy to talk with and he enjoyed spending time with her. She had her own successful business, she could be sweetly affectionate, and she seemed to think he was a great match for her. And in the analytical way she viewed relationships, he probably was. But she was always analyzing everything. It was to him, as if he was the answer to an algorithm that she had inputted into a program to find her perfect partner. Their relationship seemed great on paper, but lacked fire. If she felt passion for him, she was too in her head to show it. If she loved him, she spent too much time believing it was based on a formula to give that love the weight it demanded. He liked her, but she just couldn’t get his pulse racing the way he craved when she was reciting their connection as though it was a math problem. Leaving her was hard, because he knew she was actually very good for him. Still, it just wasn’t there.
He was lost and struggling. It was one thing to be alone, but quite another to think that he could never again be happy because he could only find scattered fragments of the love he craved. He couldn’t ignore the knowledge that he had once had it all, and could not be happy without it.
He was back in town for his twenty-year high school reunion. He wasn’t exactly looking forward to going, but a couple of his friends convinced him to go and he knew he should try to be a little more social in order to stave off any depression. He knew he wouldn’t see her there, as she graduated a year before him. He drove past her mother’s house where they said goodbye before she went off to Harvard. He did his best to hold off the tears as he remembered how awful he felt being so happy for her and so devastated for him. He put his rental car into drive and was about to head to the pub to meet up with some friends before the official reunion commenced when the door to her mother’s house opened and she stepped out. She smiled and walked to the car. He put the car into park, shut off the ignition, and got out as she approached.
“Why are you in town?” he asked her.
“I was hoping you would be here for your reunion,” she began, “I didn’t expect you to be stalking my mom’s house, though,” she teased.
“I guess I’m just a bit masochistic,” he laughed. “Although we had plenty of good times here too,” he added. Then he realized she had just told him that she was in town specifically to see him. “So, you came here just to see me?” he asked.
“I came here to get what I lost all those years ago. I tried to move past you. I saw pieces of you in others, but they weren’t you. They were just a collection of fragments.”