It can’t work.
She’s too broken.
He’s too young.
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She slams to a halt, turning to face me. “I would never deliberately deceive you. That’s not who I am.” Fire underscores her tone, and I like hearing it.
“I didn’t mean it that way. I know who you are.”
The saddest expression washes over her features. “If that was true, you wouldn’t be standing here with me now. You wouldn’t be spending time with me each day. You would run a mile if you realized exactly who I am.”
I risk stepping a little closer. “I have known you long enough to know the kind of woman you are, Serena. I’d like to think you’ve known me long enough to know you could tell me anything, and it wouldn’t scare me away.” Reaching out slowly, I take her gloved hands in my bare ones. “I spend time with you because I enjoy it. I want to get to know you better. I want to support you as you deal with the things you need to deal with.”
“Why me? I’m too old. Too broken. I have kids. I come with so much baggage I’m completely weighted down with it. I—”
I can’t listen to her beat herself up any longer, so I place two fingers over her mouth, quietly shushing her as I prepare to negate each of her concerns. “One. You’re not too old, and I’m not too young. Age is just a number, and I refuse to allow stupid societal norms to dictate who I spend my time with or categorize the nature of that relationship. Two. Broken is subjective, and we all have our broken parts, but guess what?” I move my fingers from her lips to her cheeks, silently rejoicing when she doesn’t flinch or shy away. “Broken parts can be glued back together. Three, I adore your kids, and they are the cherry on top. And four, every single person in the world has some kind of baggage. It’s called life.”
Tears glisten in her eyes, spilling onto her cheeks. “You’re not real,” she whispers. “You can’t be.”
My heart aches for her because I see the mistrust and disbelief in her eyes. “I’m real, Rena.” Taking her hand, I slip it under my coat and over my shirt-covered chest, where my heart is currently jumping cartwheels in honor of her presence. “I’m as real as it gets.”
Copyright © Siobhan Davis 2021