The sun shone through the crevasses of the branches and leaves of the trees. And as the wind gently blew, Tariro clasped her arms around her body and gently rubbed them. Her instincts told her to seek as much of the sun as she could. However the winter winds, strong and unrelenting as they were, wouldn’t be so easily defeated.
She laughed to herself, and thought of the jacket she had earlier refused to take from her mother. I guess that’s my problem, she thought to herself as she weathered on the cold winds. I never listen. And that she didn’t. For the longest time Tariro only trusted one person in her life. Herself. Half the time she found herself nodding to what people were saying without listening too intently. Her carelessness stemmed from her fear of getting hurt, and her desire to be the one in control of everything that occurred around her.
It seemed like a selfish thing to do, however her experiences had led her to this point. From watching idly as her parents moved on from one affair to another, to her first love kissing her closest childhood friend, it wasn’t difficult to fathom how one would turn out this way. But still, it was a selfish thing to do.
As her mind wrestled with these thoughts, her heart fluttered as Tanaka approached her. How lucky she had been. To find someone sweet, kind, and handsome. And how unfortunate it would be, for in a few moments she would tell him how it was all going to end.
All evening long she came up with reasons to convince him, and also herself, why it had to end. She had to concentrate on her studies, she felt that they were moving too quickly, or that she enjoyed the freedom of answering to herself. All of these were good reasons to tell him and more importantly, herself.
The wind, once again, crushed into her, and a visible tremor raced through her body.
“Aren’t you cold?” asked Tanaka as he finally arrived. “Here,” he took off his jacket, handed it to her, and planted a kiss on her cheek.
She pushed the jacket back to him.
“No, it’s fine,” Tanaka insisted. “I’m built for weather like this.”
She smiled. How could she not. Between his lopsided smile, and his dark brown eyes that were big enough to consume her whole being, she couldn’t help but take the jacket. Her hands still trembled as she stared at the jacket in her hands.
“I’m sorry,” she finally spoke. “I can’t.” She gave it back again.
“The truth is…” she resisted. “The truth is the reason why I wanted to meet here,” she motioned to the stretch of grass that students came to rest at between lectures, “is because I wanted to be in public when I told you this.”
“What?” a worry fell upon his face much to the dismay of Tariro.
“Don’t do that?” she muttered to herself.
“Do what?” his face twisted.
“Sorry, it’s nothing.” She took in a deep breath and at this point Tariro could see where it was going.
“You’re breaking up with me,” he whispered.
A guilty look fell upon her face. The words seemed to only get heavier as she tried to explain. She finally gave up and nodded.
“Huh,” he breathed out. Tanaka was taken aback by this. His hands fell to his side, and his foot gently tapped on the grass as he bit his lower lip. After a few moments of this he finally asked why.
“It’s because I value the freedom of answering only to myself.” And as she said this, she realized it sounded better in her head.
“You what?” His eyes bulged open. “Umm…” He began to blink rapidly. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know?”
“You value the freedom of answering to yourself?” He laughed at the words. They sounded absolutely ridiculous to him, and he was sure that they would to any other sane person.
“Yes. I feel this pressure and I just can’t…”
“Can’t see yourself with me.” His face finally settled onto a rather forlorn expression. “I understand.”
“You do?” she tried to reach out with her hand to him but stopped herself. Again, she clasped her hands around her body.
“I do. I guess I kinda saw this coming.”
“Ya. You really aren’t that hard to figure out, Tariro. You aren’t some magical creature. You aren’t some literary masterpiece. You are just a person. A person. And I really care for you. How you really are. But I guess at this point, all I could say is I really hope you find happiness in whatever path you may wish to take. And all that bullshit people say.”
“I really am sorry,” she finally reached out and gently rubbed his face. He grabbed her hand and kissed it. And just like that he strode away. She was left by herself once again. With the freedom to answer, her and only her.
There was a pain that subtly enveloped her in the moment. She suppressed it as usual. Ignored it more likely, it was her M.O. She was comfortable this way.