The space he had departed felt empty, abandoned without a promise to fill its place.
I stared at that corner of the sidewalk for a long time, as though he would just reappear there and return to me.
As the caretaker locked the gates, I knew he wouldn’t. Even if he wanted to, thick iron bars separated us now, and neither of us could get past them if we tried.
I dropped my head onto my knees, hugging them tighter as I did.
If I had a physical body, tears would have escaped my eyes at that moment. They would have soaked through the unidentifiable material of my clothing. They would have tried to fill the deep, throbbing hole that he had dug into my chest.
I stayed in that position for longer than I remember, either unable or unwilling to move. I heard the crickets die and watched the stars extinguish themselves from the soulless night sky. I heard the caretaker unlock the gates then force them open with a heavy creak.
I listened to a few visitors come and go, never once looking up because I knew they were not Adam. Adam’s footsteps were light and had an almost melodical rhythm, as though he were a dancer weightlessly treading upon the dewy grass. Adam’s footsteps are the ones I desperately yearn to hear, the one’s my ears cry out for.
I could have staying that position forever (it’s not like I have to worry about stiff joints or anything) and would have were it not for a soft panting approaching me from a short distance. If I were a cat, my ears would have visibly perked up at the sound.
I did not dare to let myself think of who those pants could have belonged to. Instead I forced myself to focus on the footsteps that would soon accompany the approaching pants.
For a long, torturous moment, I did not dare to let myself believe in the obvious. I did not dare to let myself envision the jogger to whom those light, rhythmical footsteps belonged to. I tried to kill the budding hope that sprouted in my chest.
Then, the footsteps changed directions. They went from smooth cement to crunchy asphalt and finally to soft grass, where they stopped beside me. Still I did not look up, refusing to entrust my faith in the running shoes and sweaty pants beside me.
An arm passed through me, resting beneath my knees. The pasty skin was extremely familiar, as was the small freckle on the underside of the wrist. I knew that arm.
And it was at that moment that everything that held me down disappeared once more. My head felt oddly light all of a sudden, and it lifted itself from my knees, taking in the comforting daylight for the first time.
My eyes, still hesitant, turned towards the shape moving beside me.
A huge flood of relief coursed through my nonexistent veins at the sight of him. The bruise had darkened on his cheek and the edges had grown yellow, but there were no new injuries to plague his face, at least, none that I could see. The cut on his lip had closed up, leaving a small, scab-like bump where it had been.
When his eyes opened and looked at me, they held no emotion. There were calm, like they had been when we’d met. His facial expression was hard to read, mostly because I didn’t know how to recognize the varying features that portrayed his conflicting emotions.
That is, until he smiled. He let his eyes close in time with his grin, concealing the sadness I thought I’d glimpsed in his irises.
He unpacked the kickstand, tablet, pad and pen; same as he always did, and set up without saying a word then sat there with his pen hovering over the paper. He stared at it for a moment, placing the top of the pen against his lower lip. His eyebrows scrunched together and he lifted his head, staring straight ahead of us as though the answer lay on the horizon. His eyes didn’t focus on anything, but I’d followed them anyways, gazing into the green foliage of a maple tree.
We sat in silence for a long time, gazing into the distance. I’d glance at him occasionally but he never seemed to notice me. His pale blue eyes were far, far away.