The Longest Stare
By Adrian Lopez
It was the greatest night of my life. When I walked on the stage, received my high school diploma with Honors, and looked out into the plethora of people in the audience, it was like I was looking out toward my future. It was such a rush of emotion and feelings. I picked out Samantha from the crowed, her bright and gleaming face smiling at me in her red cap-and-gown. The proudest moment of my entire life.
Later that night, I picked her up from her house and we went out for a night on the town. The city was bustling with life. Whenever we saw some friends packed four-to-a-car, Samantha would roll down her window and shout out at them. We went to the most expensive steakhouse in the city. I figured that the most important girl in my life deserved the best on the greatest day of our lives. We had just graduated high school, after all.
It was a particularly hot summer night. Well after two in the morning, it was still quite warm outside. Samantha suggested that we go to Ol’ Wilson’s Park and take a nice walk. We drove down the deserted city streets with the sunroof down; her silky brown hair flowed ever so elegantly with the wind.
We parked the car close to the dirt trail. I turned off the engine and lights, and we just sat ever so still listening to the tink-tink of the engine. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night. We got out of the car and started walking up the trail to “Ol’ Wilson’s Hill”. It was dark, and I could barely see Samantha walking beside me, but I knew she was there. Even in darkness, she glowed brighter than the heat of a thousand burning suns. We sat down on the old, rusted metal bench at the top of the hill and admired the bright, vibrant lights and scapes of the entire city. It took my breath away. I distinctly remember Samantha putting her soft, fragile fingers in between mine. We sat in silence, cherishing the precious and perfect moment. We had no idea what time it was, but neither of us cared. If I could give my soul for just one wish, I’d wish that moment would have lasted forever.
Through the silence, Samantha softly said, “I need to talk to you about something.” I turned to her, and an enormous smile came over my face. I was anxious to hear whatever she had to say on a night like this. In the back of my mind, I was hoping it was about our future together.
“Did I tell you I got accepted into Harvard? Full scholarship,” Samantha told me. I was shocked; a sensation of joy ran through me. “That’s incredible,” I said. “I am so happy for you, Samantha. Congratulations!”
The look on her face. The look in her eyes. Her eyes, dear God. That look will haunt me until the day I die. The joy immediately left my mind, and was replaced with worry. She stood up and paced back and forth a few times. I didn’t know what was going on. I knew she wanted to tell me something, I just wasn’t certain what. She said back down, took my hand into her lap, and looked down at the ground.
“I am sorry about everything that I am about to say. I got accepted into Harvard Law School, and you are going to UCLA for a film career. We’re going to be 3000 miles apart from each other, carrying out our own business and living our own lives. I think we need to end this relationship. I just can’t bear the thought of being so far away from you, my love; of making you give up on your dreams and your happiness to be my husband. I won’t let you do that for me. I understand if this breaks your heart, and I am sorry. You don’t have to forgive me for what I am doing to you. But if I may ask one thing of you, please: understand.”
I felt like screaming. I felt like crying and tearing my own heart out. The amount of sadness, dread, anger, and hopelessness that rushed into my head all at one time put me into a state of shell shock. I stared into her eyes, and she stared into mine. It was the longest stare of my entire life. The girl that I had loved ever since I laid my eyes on her in kindergarten, the girl I always thought about through middle school, and who finally loved me since my freshman year of high school was telling me straight and true that our relationship would end. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to feel. But in the end, I kissed her hand, wiped the small crystalline tear from her cheek, kissed her on her forehead, and hugged her ever so tightly until the crack of the sun came over the horizon. In the end, I forgave her. I accepted the fact that I would never put a ring on Samantha’s finger, or be the father of her children or the husband that would cherish her and take care of her. I accepted that we would not grow old together. I forgave her. I forgave her because I love her, and I would do anything for her. So that’s what I did: I forgave her for the pain she caused me, the long nights and waking moments of grief and sorrow that were because of her. I forgave her, and I moved on and carried on with my life. There is no greater deed she could have asked of me. I hope I made her proud.
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