I made my way into the old bar that has seen me at my highest of highs and lowest of lows for what I knew would perhaps be the last time for years to come. The sign read closed, but for me, it was always open. Upon entering, I felt a calmness wash over as it did so many times before as I looked for the familiar face behind the bar who has seen me through it all.
He was speaking french at a rapid pace on the phone and all I could think is.. I’m going to miss this.
I took my usual seat at the bar and happily listened to him speaking the beautiful language, picking up words here and there. He turned and smiled at me and quickly hung up the call.
“Mon ami! You should have said something. Oh, it is so good to see you, belle,” He kissed both my cheeks and hugged me tightly, hands running down my arms. He kept ahold of my left wrist, running a thumb over my semi colon tattoo, silently checking to make sure there were no more scars added to the collection, even though there hasn’t been in some time.
“You know you won’t find any new ones. There haven’t been in quite awhile.” I whispered.
He smiled sheepishly at me and quietly responded, “I know, but..”
I nodded. I knew. He didn’t have to finish the sentence. He had been there through it all. He had seen me at the top of the world and he had seen me be crushed by it. He had seen the bright light in my eyes leave until I was merely a flicker.
The first time he saw my scars he was saddened, but the first time he saw a fresh cut he was absolutely heart broken. I told him I wasn’t worth the sadness he was feeling and he threatened to put me over his knee then and there. He’s checked my arm ever since. Though, if he ever found a fresh cut, I think it would break my heart more than it could ever break his.
“Still avoiding the scene and playing?”
“I’m done with that, I told you, I just don’t have it in me anymore. Those days are over.” I cooly responded.
“You miss it though don’t you?”
“Sometimes,” I admitted, “sometimes I do. I miss the marks, the bruises, the pain, the warmth, but it goes as quickly as it comes. I don’t have the capacity for it in me anymore. Why? I haven’t given you any reason to want to put me over your knee!”
He just raised an eyebrow and slid a beer to me before making his way around the bar and taking a seat next to me.
“How have you been, mon petit leon? Tell me everything!” He inquired.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“I have been good, mon ami. There really isn’t anything to tell, I’m afraid. You know, I have become a boring old woman!” I teased as I brought the beer to my lips. “How are you?”
“Non. Boring and you do not belong in the same sentence. Besides, you’re getting ready to leave the country, that is anything but boring. Tell me how you are feeling about it? About the move? Are you ready? Are you packed?” He quickly asked ignoring my question to him. Had it been anyone else, I would have felt as if I was being interrogated.
“Honestly? You know me, I have not packed! Come on. But.. It’s everything I have ever wanted. I have dreamed this since I was young and here it is, the moment I have been waiting for. While it’s exciting, it’s terrifying, mon ami. I’m beyond ready to go, to take this step toward my dream. But…” I faltered.
“But what?” He prompted.
I looked down, shook my head, suddenly feeling small. Vulnerable. Two fingers made their way beneath my chin and forced me to look up into those big dark eyes.
“There is no hiding here, mon chou.” He reminded gently. Before I could blink, he was lifting me out of the chair and carrying me over to the couch before sitting down and settling me in his lap. He wrapped a blanket around us, wrapped his arms around me tightly and simply asked, “Mieux?”
“Oui.” I nodded into his chest and he kissed the top of my head in response.
“What are you afraid of?” He implored.
“What if it isn’t everything I dreamed it would be?” I whispered.
“Then you make the best of it and you work towards a new dream.”
“What if it is everything I dreamed of?”
He chuckled lowly before he replied, “Then you sink your teeth into it, never let go, and work towards making this world a better place, mon chou.”
I didn’t reply. I just tried to snuggle into him even more and clung on to him as if I let go, I’d be ripped away. He squeezed me tightly before running a hand up and down my back. I would miss this. I would miss him. People always mistook us as a couple, but we never were. Only best friends with all the love in the world for each other except the romantic kind.
“What is that you are afraid of, ma cheri? I can tell something is going on in that head of yours.” He whispered as he rested his chin on my head.
I could feel the tears threatening to make their way out of my eyes and i took a deep breath. Willed them not to fall. Not now. Not in front of him. I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out several times.
“I.. I’m afraid of saying goodbye..” I muttered. “I know that’s stupid. I’m good at goodbyes, at burning bridges, at walking away. I was born to leave and always will be, I know that will never change. But when I get on that plane… Everything changes. I’m leaving behind all of the people I love. That’s life, my life, I know that. I know I have to go, but I know that it comes with a cost. I don’t want to lose you or the others I love or have to say goodbye to you.” And with that the tears fell.
“Oh, mon petit leon, non. This isn’t goodbye, never goodbye. This is merely until we meet again, and we will, you have to know that. You’re my best friend, that will never change. I’ll still love you, even when youre a world away.” He said soothingly before he started singing the french lullaby that was his go to to calm me down each time and it always worked.
I took comfort in the lullaby and my position, listening to his heart beat. I couldn’t help but wonder what life changes we would miss out on with eachother. Would I miss him falling in love? Getting engaged? Getting married? Would he settle down with a nice girl or boy who would give him the entire world like he deserves?
What would I do without him to run to? Who would pick me up and cuddle me into their lap and not let me go? Who would sing french lullabies to me or force me to face myself? Would I ever get the chance to have a moment like this with him again? Or is this the last time?
Last time. So many last times.
Once he finished, I forced myself to look up at him, into his eyes, to ask him what I needed to know.
“I need you to make me a promise..” I mumbled feeling bashful all of a sudden. He nodded in agreement for me to continue. “Promise me, no matter how far I roam or how long I do so, promise me that you won’t ever forget me?”
“Oh, mon petit leon. I couldn’t even if I wanted to.”