The pain wasn't something new. She had met with it before. So as she watched him fade away, she smiled oddly, turned on her heel, and walked the opposite direction.
She knew better.
She felt her blood pumping, rhythmic and loud in her ears as she walked. Ga-thump, ga-thump, ga-thump, moving like a slowly accelerating train that never reaches its full speed.
Her friends would tell her he was an idiot. His friends already had told her over and over that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever brought around and deserved so much better than the half-ass attempt he made. They would say he was lost, or that he wasn't ever going to figure it out. It would be his loss.
It was always the same sentiments. They just came out differently.
She would not say anything bad about him. She would just smile and nod and say thank you.
She felt it coming from the beginning. Maybe a week after they met, the cloud moved over, shrouding them in a faint shadow. Everything that had been perfect - his hands on her, the sweet words - went dull, became grimy. Day by day the shadow became more noticeable. Even the small peeks of sunshine did not ever fully dissipate the feeling of darkness.
But still, she stayed.
Her heart was slowing again as she reached her car, becoming less intense. Instead of weeks of desperate misery, she had learned what worked: lunch with friends, pretty pieces of jewelry, a new book, a vacation. Nothing that ever fixed it, but something that distracted her.
She loved him the best that she could - and if the world needed more of something, it was fierce love. So she let the tears fall, let her heart break, but did not despair because she knew she had given something magical.
Until then, she would continue to love the hell out of every person she met - even when she could see the demons behind their eyes - just to let them know what hope really is. She had grown enough to know that was the only way she could live-
- fearlessly in love with the world.