The words were scrawled on a piece of sepia-toned stationary and left on the kitchen table for him to find. He knew immediately who they were from. The content was enough to give away their writer, but the narrow, slanted lettering eliminated any possibility for doubt. He was too familiar with the hand that wrote them, too accustomed to seeing that script littering his home. He stared at those five short words, reading them over and over again. He knew it was pointless; the words wouldn’t change. He wouldn’t be able to glean some secret meaning from them. The words were blunt, laid bare for the sake of his acceptance.
A dull heat smoldered in the pit of his stomach, the dying embers of an anger that had been left to burn itself out. A few months ago, this note would have sent him into a frenzy of fury and tears. But time puts distance between a person and their hurts, that distance gives perspective, and perspective allows for acceptance. The wound that would have been so keen was now little more than a stitch, a reminder that left him with those embers, the ashes of which were a nostalgic melancholia.
“I’m sorry” is easy to say after the fact.
“I love you” is easy to confess in hindsight.
None of those words had been offered when they would have mattered. Perhaps even now they might have meant something if they’d been spoken in person, if he could have looked him in the eye and they had allowed each other to feel the weight of those words. As it was, they were a token effort offered too late.
Time had passed, he’d accepted, he’d moved on. There was no longer any room for him to wallow. No moments to spare on what ifs. What had happened still hung on the edges of his mind, but now, at long last, was the time for looking forward.
With one swift gesture, he swept the paper off the table and crumpled it up. His was a reply that would never be received, but was no less satisfying for it.