You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day—the one whom you often call “The One That Got Away.” What happens?
It had been quite some time since Mark had thought about his ex-boyfriend. If anything, he’d done almost everything he possibly could to try and erase any reminder of him from Mark’s life; deleting texts and emails, destroying photographs and letters and drawings, even blocking his number on his phone… but no matter how hard he tried, Mark could never completely erase Andy from his mind.
Whilst Mark never spoke of Andy in the presence of any of his other boyfriends, deep down there was a part of him that regularly thought about Andy; the part of Mark that he tried so desperately to destroy; the part that he tried so desperately to ignore, but to no avail.
Although it had been quite some time since Mark and Andy last spoke to each other, Mark often wondered whether Andy ever thought about him, and whether he thought about him with the same affection he still felt for Mark. Wondering ‘what if…?’. Wondering what Andy was up to now? Was he seeing anybody? Was he happy?
Their relationship wasn’t the easiest of relationships, whilst Mark was considerably younger than Andy when they first met, Mark fell far too easily for Andy, and got too caught up in the whirlwind of the concept of love and a relationship and having a boyfriend, but whilst he thought that that was what he wanted with Andy, it was unfortunately never meant to be. Even after all the break-ups, and the arguments, and the lengths of time spent not speaking to each other, Mark was still in love with Andy, and based on Andy’s behaviour, it was clear that Andy, despite all his denial, felt the same way.
The day they broke up was one of the hardest days for both of them as Mark had, on numerous occasions, bared his soul and professed his true feelings to Andy, who, whilst admitted to feeling somewhat the same way, agreed that he also wanted more, but his current situation prevented him from truly pursuing anything further. Mark finally reached a point where this constant cycle of falling in love and wearing his heart on his sleeve resulted in him being rejected and then using his rage and sadness to help him avoid Andy for a couple of weeks at a time, until Andy would come grovelling and profusely apologising for causing so much heartache.
Eventually Mark grew tired of this cycle, realising that it was leading nowhere and decided that he couldn’t continue down this path anymore. It was then he gave Andy an ultimatum.
Thinking that this would work, Mark anticipated the fairy tale ending, where Andy would turn up on his front porch, in the rain, telling him he loved him, and that he wanted to be with him, and they would live happily ever after… but alas, that never eventuated. Andy told Mark that he wasn’t ready, and that was the final straw. Mark made it clear that he wasn’t going to continue with this ‘relationship’ any longer, and showed Andy to the door. They kissed each other one last time, hugged and Mark closed the door behind him.
Slumping down in the hallway with his back up against the door, Mark broke down in tears, whilst Andysat in his car across the street crying.
Unfortunately it was something that was never meant to be. Mark always thought of Andy as the one that got away… even though he was the one who eventually showed him the door for the last time. There was a very, very deep piece of his heart that would always love and care for him unconditionally, but it was kept deep down inside and never publicly acknowledged.
Years passed and Mark found himself thinking about Andy less and less, generally only thinking about him when prompted of something that instantly reminded him of Andy: a movie, a pair of Chuck Taylors, a specific album, certain restaurants etc., and instantly, fond memories of their past began flashing before Mark’s eyes, warming his heart and breathing life into his soul – but those moments grew less and less as time passed. Mark occasionally wondered about the moment he and Andy crossed paths again, wondering what they’d say to each other, or if they’d ignore each other completely.
Naturally, that moment became real all too unexpectedly.
It just happened to be Valentine’s Day, and Mark was never one to get caught up in the hype of Valentine’s Day. Even during the times when he had a boyfriend, he never went out of his way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, because as far as Mark saw it, you shouldn’t need one day a year to celebrate your love with your partner, it’s something that you should be doing every day instead.
To Mark, Valentine’s Day was just another day.
On this particular Valentine’s Day, Mark was out in the sunshine after running some errands, and decided to go buy himself some lunch. Having decided on a specific cafe in the area, he crossed the rode, and as he entered through the doorway, Mark reached up to his face to remove his sunglasses. As he did, a tall man with broad shoulders in front of him collected his meal from the top of the counter and turned to his friend before turning around to walk past Mark and leave the cafe.
It was Andy.
Mark’s heart stopped beating momentarily as he realised Andy walked past. He caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of his eye, and as Mark did a double-take just to be sure, he turned his head to see Andy looking back at him as he walked through the doors and out onto the footpath. There was a look in Andy’s eye of surprise and frustration. Mark could see that Andy wanted to at least stop and say hello, but didn’t want to ignore the other person he was with.
Overcome with mixed emotions at what had just taken place in those few seconds, he was too distracted to hear the waitress calling out to him, asking for his order. He quickly blurted out his order, before choosing to go and wait patiently by the window, secretly hoping Andy would perhaps walk past again, but he never did.
Instantly Mark began thinking that this was perhaps some kind of sign, and before he knew it, his mind was racing with thoughts of the symbolism of seeing Andy, out of the blue, on Valentine’s Day, and how this was the moment they began to re-connect and fall in love with each other all over again.
Yet again, too distracted by the visions in his mind, Mark came back to reality to find the waitress yelling at him from behind the counter, with a crowd of onlookers staring at him.
Feeling embarrassed, Mark collected his sandwich, put his sunglasses back on and ventured back out into the sunshine to find a quiet place to sit and eat his lunch. He found a vibrant green patch of grass in a nearby park, removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his sleeves, put his earphones in and allowed his mind to run wild whilst he devoured his salad sandwich. Halfway through he noticed a shadow from somebody behind him. As he turned around, he noticed that it was a father with his two toddlers playing with a soccer ball on the grass.
Occasionally the ball would come rolling towards him, stopping just within his reach, and he would grab the ball, turn around and throw it back to one of the kids. Then a tall, broad shadow appeared from behind him. Thinking it was the father again, and that there must be a soccer ball nearby, he turned around, and was stunned to see Andy standing there, hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched, looking rather shy and nervous.
They both looked at each other in uncomfortable silence, before Mark stood up to face Andy. Seconds felt like hours, as they faced each other looking at each other, taking in each others appearance for the first time in several years. Neither of them wanted to be the first one to speak and break the silence, but the longer they left it, the more uncomfortable it became. Eventually their eyes locked, and they both let a small grin wash over the corners of their mouths, until Mark noticed Andy’s lip start to quiver, and his eyes become quite glassy. Without warning, Andy lunged forward with his arms out stretched, and before Mark had a chance to move, Andy wrapped him up in his arms, holding him tightly, trying not to burst into a giant crying mess. At that moment, Marks head nestled into Andy’s neck, and his eyes began to well. The smell of Andy’s skin, and his cologne, and the smell of his suit jacket – it was so incredibly familiar, and something he had secretly longed to smell again, even if it was just once. It felt like coming home. And they stood there, in the middle of the park, in the middle of the day, in the sunshine, silently crying with tears of happiness into each other’s shoulder.