By the time I could draw another breath, we were just five minutes away from home, and anything I said might be misconstrued as being melodramatic.
“Do you mind if I turn the radio on?” But I was just being polite really, and I was already leaning forward to press the power button even before he could grunt his assent.
A familiar crooning voice played out. Bee Gees. And they were singing How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.
I quickly switched to another station and breathed a sigh of relief when I heard Eminem rapping. Oh thank God. But a little while later, Rihanna joined in, and I realized too late we were listening to Love The Way You Lie.
Shit, shit, shit.
My fingers fumbled for the next station, just in time to hear the DJ say the next song would be from Billy Ray Cyrus, and I stared at the radio’s digital screen in complete disbelief. No. Way. Right? There was just no effing –
A melody of notes drifted into the air.
Oh my God!
I slammed my hand on the power button to shut the radio off.
ACHY BREAKY HEART.
Really, God, really?
And then I heard it – just the tiniest sound, so soft that I could be forgiven for thinking I had imagined it. But even so my head snapped towards his direction.
He was gazing straight ahead, and the chiseled features of his face could have been carved from stone.
Even so, my eyes narrowed. I knew what I heard, and a moment later, I saw it. A sight as tiny as that sound from earlier. A sight that was real, and it was beautiful.
And I laughed.
It was that or cry, and I could never choose the latter. Not anymore. Not ever. Because things were different. And so I just laughed, and after a moment, he – YO – joined in, too. Five seconds of bliss followed. Five seconds in which I could forget that the mere thought of him hurt so bad I had to mentally change his name to a stupid two-letter exclamation. Five seconds in which I could pretend things were not different.
We gazed at each other, and just seeing him smile made me giddy and weepy all at the same time. God, how I wished this could last forever.
But it didn't, and those five seconds were gone all too soon. The silence inside his struck started humming with tension again, and when I looked at him again, watching his smile fade was like seeing the world end.
And it hurt.
My fingers balled into fists.
So, so much.
I nearly jerked in my seat at the guttural sound of his voice. He rarely called me by my name, but I supposed he no longer had any choice now. All the other names he used to call me through the years weren’t appropriate anymore –
Princess. Baby doll. My girl.
I heard him curse under his breath as I squeezed my eyes shut.
And then he was speaking again -
The words were raw, and the images they painted behind my eyelids were even more agonizing.
I remembered the first day we made love, and I became his.
You’re finally mine.
I remembered the last time our eyes met before he became someone else’s.
And most of all, I remembered the mind-numbing, blood-curling fear, that inescapable sense of foreboding –
Sometimes, you just know.
His voice drew me back to the present. “If you want me to go---” His voice had turned forceful and aggressive. “I will.” The voice of a man who was willing to fight to the ends of the world for the woman he loved.
If only you would let that woman fight even just one battle for you.
I fixed my gaze on the windows. “There’s nothing for you to worry about. We’re good.” So damn good I couldn’t make myself look at him again, knowing that if he saw the tears in my eyes, it would only hurt him more.
And more than anything else, I just wanted him to stop hurting.