I sat nervously on my back deck, watching as locals and summer renters walked up and down the beach at the water’s edge, a few people were swimming around out there. I had texted Cole back a few minutes after he answered me this morning and asked him to come over around three. It was now 3:07 and my mouth was dry, my mind racing. How could I find the right words to say to him? What was I going to start with? Or end with? I was not ready for this. Just as I was about to grab my phone, chicken out and cancel I heard his voice.
“Jess...” he said loudly enough for me to hear as he walked around the side of the house from the driveway and climbed up onto the deck.
“Hey,” I said softly. I couldn’t help but smile seeing him, and he looked so good in the gym shorts and tank top he was wearing. It was obvious he had just come from the gym. “How are you?” I asked as he chose the seat across from me and settled down.
He laughed a little, running his fingers through his hair, “I would be better if I knew what was going on to be honest.” He said smiling halfheartedly.
I nodded, understanding. I knew I looked stressed about the conversation, and I’m sure it wasn’t hard for him to figure out this conversation was bound to be a bad one.
“So,” I said, stopping there and closing my eyes, running my hands over my face. I was not prepared for this, and it hurt me more knowing how hard this was for me, because it was obvious it did care about him. But I cared too much about him. And I cared enough to not want to hurt him. That’s why this had to be done. “I don’t really know what to say here, other than I can’t see you anymore.” I said softly, looking up to see a confused look on his face. “And I know we never were officially dating, so I guess this isn’t like a break up or anything, but I needed to tell you rather than just remove myself from your life without an explanation.” I added, opening my mouth to speak again so he’d stay quiet and just let me finish. “Maybe you never even saw this going anywhere, so this won’t mean anything to you and this will be like me letting you off the hook, I don’t even know,” I added, saddened by the truth of it all. I didn’t know where we stood or really how he felt about me. I paused, thinking about what to say next, knowing I had to stay on track here. “There is someone else.” I said sadly. “It’s complicated. I don’t know if he and I will even work out, but I need to figure things out there before I can move on or be with anyone else.” I said softly, “and that’s why I need to end this with you. Because I can see whatever this was between us going a long way and becoming something strong. But I can’t do that with this other person lingering around in my mind. It’s not fair to either of us if my head and heart can’t be 100% with one person. It’s selfish for me to want you to wait for me to figure my shit out, so I’m not going to ask you too. But I hope we can still be at least friends for now.” I hated myself after saying that word, ‘friends’. That was like a punch in the gut and I knew it, because the same line had been fed to me many times before.
I opened my mouth once more but this time nothing came out. I had nothing left to say, and my stomach was in knots as I sat across from Cole trying to avoid eye contact. After what felt like an eternity I peered up to find Cole’s eyes burning into me. His face was blank, completely stone, leaving it hard for me to read what was going on in his mind.
“Cole?” I whispered, needing some sort of reaction from him.
“Dammit Jessica,” he growled through gritted teeth as he stood up. I bit my lower lip nervously, looking up at him, expecting the wrath to come. But then to my surprise his face relaxed. His eyes softened and he headed to the stairs that lead toward the driveway. “Goodbye.” Was all I could hear him say as he looked back at me then turned the corner.
As soon as he disappeared I broke down, crying hard for myself and for him. I knew I hurt him and I was scared that I had just made the worst decision of my life. I needed to figure things out with Andrew, but was it selfish of me to be a little hurt Cole didn’t even try fighting for me?
Maybe he wasn’t too serious about us after all.