Increasingly impatient, Arnaz followed Kylisha to the break room a few minutes later. “Why are you stalling, Kylisha?” he said, upon finding her sitting down at a table. She’d clocked out five minutes ago. “Is it because you don’t share my feelings?”
“I do love you, Arnaz. I’m just not in love with you,” Kylisha replied, reluctantly turning to face him. Oh, how she hated confrontations. Kylisha was just glad everyone else was already gone for the day. She cared too much for Arnaz to break his heart in front of witnesses.
Arnaz’s jaw clenched tight. That was not the response he was looking for. “If you could just commit to try, Kylisha, I’m sure over time you’ll come to love me the same way I love you.” He moved to the table where she was.
Kylisha shook her head. “That’s not fair to you, Arnaz. You can’t put your life on hold for me,” she said as he settled into the chair to her left. “Quite honestly, I think you’ve done enough of that as it is, and I’m starting to feel guilty about it.”
“So what exactly are you saying here, Kylisha? You want us to stop dating altogether now?” Arnaz’s frown deepened with each word he said.
Nodding, Kylisha took in a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “I think it’s for the best, Arnaz,” she replied, patting his hand in comfort.
“It’s him, isn’t it?” Arnaz snatched his hand away, as if her hand was some kind of tarantula – a dangerous entity he needed to avoid right now.
Kylisha didn’t have to ask whom Arnaz was referring to. By now they both knew who stood between them. Who’d always stood between them romantically.
“Actually, it’s more me than Gene,” Kylisha explained, pushing past the rejection she felt at Arnaz’s reaction to her touch. After all, he had to be feeling tons worse than her right now. “See, I erroneously thought that I could replace my feelings for one man with another. It hasn’t worked yet. I seriously doubt if it ever will. I’m truly sorry for hurting you in the process, Arnaz.”
Standing to his feet, Arnaz began to pace the floor. “Kylisha, you can break up with me all you want, but please don’t take up with him,” he said, once again refusing to even speak Gene’s name. “One woman is never enough for guys like that. Plus, I wonder how much of his current interest is because of all the changes you’ve made in your appearance lately,” Arnaz continued. “Remember, I tried to go out with you when you were still wearing baggy clothes and that long ponytail.”
Kylisha nodded in remembrance. “Believe me, I have gone over those same arguments with myself thousands of times,” she replied. “But there’s just something about Gene that speaks to me. I can’t really explain it other than to say that when he talks to me, I hear him all the way in my heart,” she said, pointing to her actual heart.
Arnaz looked tormented by her words. He stopped pacing and sat down in the nearest chair as if his legs would no longer carry him. As if the weight of her words was too heavy for him to bear standing up.
Kylisha’s voice softened. “I’m really sorry, Arnaz. Even though my head tells me that you would make a better guy for me, my heart still wants Gene.”
“The heart wants what it wants, huh?” Arnaz forced out. “In this case, your heart is going to get exactly what it wants and mine will just have to starve.” He looked out the window at the orange and blue-streaked western sky. The only serenity he got from the sunset was the amount he allowed into his soul. Right now, Arnaz wanted anger more than he wanted peace.
“Not necessarily,” Kylisha replied. “There are no guarantees that things will work out with me and Gene, either. For all I know, he may have gotten tired of waiting for me and found someone else. He might be with her right now. Might have been with her all day.” Kylisha’s eyes grew sad with each new possibility she posed.
Arnaz turned to face her again. “You wouldn’t have those issues with me,” he reminded her.
“I know.” Kylisha nodded. “But that doesn’t change the fact that you and I shouldn’t be dating anymore. You’re too good of a man to be kept on a string, Arnaz. You deserve better. My way of helping you get better is to finally cut the string.”
“So you’re cutting me loose just like that, huh?” Rejection splattered across his face like gloomy black paint thrown against a whitewashed wall.
Kylisha shook her head. “Not all the way loose, Arnaz. I’m merely cutting the dating string. I’d still like us to be friends. Do you think that’s possible?”
Arnaz took a deep breath of acceptance before speaking again. “Friends it is,” he finally replied, doing his best to smile over his broken heart.
“Friends it is,” Kylisha echoed, smiling her relief at how well he’d taken things under the circumstances.
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
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