It had been nearly 4 years since you'd visited London. You sighed, taking in a deep breath as you gazed up at the drizzly, moist, grey sky. "It's been too long." You whispered quietly to no one, closing your eyes as memories overtook your senses.
"Excuse me?" You tried getting the blonde-haired man's attention, your tentative and unsure voice smaller than desired. Clearing your throat, you tried again. "Could you please help me, sir?"
The worker looked up from the rather thick novel he was reading, regarding you with semi-masked curiousity, his ridiculously thick eyebrows raised in question. You mentally sucked in a breath as you were met with his shockingly emerald eyes. You struggled to refrain from taking a step back.
"How may I do so?"
"I'm a bit lost," you laughed sheepishly, "would you mind telling me where I am?"
"You are standing in a bookstore in London, England." He grinned, a glimmer in his eyes, as you frowned at his reply. "I'm just teasing you, love. Is there some place in particular you are looking for?"
You smiled, relieved that he had only been joking. "Well, I'm trying to find my apartment. I just moved here and decided to take a walk. But now I can't seem to find my way back home..." Trailing off, you shook your head, disgruntled and ashamed.
The man chuckled, and you blushed a bit. He probably thinks I'm the world's biggest idiot! "I can certainly help you find your way back home- on one condition."
You looked at him nervously, wondering what his condition would be. He grinned again at your hesitation, inadvertantly making your heart skip a beat. You waited, unknowingly holding your breath.
"What's your name?"
You were jostled out of your thoughts as a woman bumped against your shoulder. You mumbled a quiet, 'sorry' and glanced around yourself. You slowly moved through the throng of umbrellas and people walking about, all of them hurrying to escape from the rain that they knew was headed their way. You smiled to yourself. You would think that after living here for so many years, they'd be used to it. Bowing your head down, watching your feet shuffle along the pavement, you continued your slow stroll, no doubt aggravating those who were rushing for shelter.
Lifting your gaze, you came to a halt. You stared ahead at the simple red-oak colored picnic table, seeing, but not seeing at the same time.
"Hello _____! You look lovely today," he paused, "but then again, you look equally lovely every day." The Englishman smiled at you. Even though it happened so often, Arthur Kirkland's smiles were something you could never get used to. They were so kind, so loving, so full of endearment. You struggled to catch your breath as you walked over to him. He gave you a peck on your cheek, his soft lips lingering for a moment. A blissfully perfect moment.
"Thank you, Arthur." He could tell something was off about you. Your gaze was averted, looking at the plush, bright green grass beneath your feet. It was a beautiful green, really. Fresh. But nothing compared to the hue of Arthur's eyes. Not even close.
"Is something wrong, love?" You made sure not to look at his face, at his furrowed brows and confused, worried expression. You sat down on the bench of the table, surveying the hands resting in your lap. "_____, what is it? You can tell me." His accented words caressed you in comfort along with a gentle hand on your face. You turned your unwilling eyes towards him, afraid of the words that would come out of your mouth.
Your boyfriend's eyes flickered as he registered what you'd said. "L-Leaving? What do you mean? Leaving me? You... You don't like me anymore?"
You started and quickly shook your head. "No, never! Arthur, don't ever think things like that." You reassured him, offering a smile that didn't quite reach your eyes.
"Then what do you mean, _____?"
You knew that he knew exactly what you meant; he just didn't want to admit to the truth. He refused to see what was in plain sight in front of him. "I'm moving back to the US. B-But probably only for a little bit!" You mentally scolded yourself. No _____; you're supposed to be making a clean cut! You can't insert hopes into his head!
"Why?" His green gaze searched yours for an answer.
"I have to relocate for my work..."
"When will you be back? You said only for a bit; how soon?"
"I-I'm not sure," you lied. "They don't have any idea." You held your breath, hoping that, for once in your life, you had lied well. Well enough to deceive the messy haired man beside you.
"I'm sure it will be soon, though, right? And besides, we can keep in contact. Email, cellphones, texting, you name it!" He laughed, but you didn't join him. "_____? We will keep in touch, will we not?"
You enveloped him in a hug, squeezing him tightly, refusing to let your tears fall. You whispered in his ear. "I'm so sorry, Arthur."
You quickly disentangled yourself and tore away from the bench, from the grass, from the park, from Arthur Kirkland. You ran. You pushed ahead, ignoring the alluring cries of your lover behind you, cries of alarm, confusion, despair, and, most of all, heartbreak.
"I'm sorry, Arthur." You repeated quietly as you huffed, picking up speed, desperate not to let him catch you. "It's better this way- easier." As hard as you tried not to let it happen, a tear escaped and rolled down the cheek that had just been kissed.
You ran and didn't look back.
Your sight focused, and you made your way towards the table, sitting down in the exact same spot you'd been at so long ago. You lifted your head up towards the dismal sky, blinking slowly. A fat, wet drop of rain fell upon your cheek. The same cheek that had been pecked by a pair of lips that had an everlasting scent of fine English tea. The same cheek that the one lone tear rolled down as you ran from the one you loved most.
You lifted a finger to wipe it away, only for it to be followed by two more dollops. You sat for a few more seconds, or maybe it was minutes, or maybe even hours, and then you finally rose.
This time, when you left, you walked instead of ran; you looked back, lingering. Stuffing your hands in the pockets of your hoodie, you followed the pathway of the park, heading back to your home. The rain was merciful and fell lightly. You stopped at the crossroad and viewed the group of people walking your direction.
That's when you saw him.
His head was down, but his sandy blonde hair was messy and easily recognizable. He stepped with long strides, his beige trench coat long and willowy. You could tell he was annoyed; he was shaking his head back and forth, grumbling about the rain, no doubt. He never did remember his umbrella.
Maybe he felt that he was being scrutinized. Maybe he knew somebody was staring at him. Maybe he just happened to look up. But he did. And he abruptly stopped his graceful walking, swaying in place, staring at you.
Slowly, ever so slowly, you walked forward. The distance of 20 feet seemed like the distance of a thousand. Finally, finally, you were in front of him. Of Arthur Kirkland.
"_-_____? Is that... you?"
"Arthur..." You breathed, reaching up to caress his face. You closed your eyes, breathing in the long-awaited scent of the Brit. Lifting your lids back up again, you focused on the shining, emerald treasures you had missed beyond words.