Three Words

I couldn’t say it. I tried, but my non-committal habits silenced me, as much as I wanted to shout it into the almost-morning. I kissed him again instead.

“I have to go,” he half-whispered, reluctant to pull away. But he didn’t pause as he started walking towards the gate, knowing that his will to leave was already too weak.

I stood on the deck, watching him disappear. Click. The gate door closed. Footsteps fading. I reprimanded my inability to speak my mind. How often did I want to tell him, and how many chances I had lost. Now he was leaving for his trip, unaware of my plans to leave him in my past. This was my last chance to tell him, one last time.

Climbing down the porch steps, running barefoot in the dirt, I made it to the gate door and whipped it open, ready to run to him, stop him, tell him. But he was already out of sight. The moment had evaporated, and disappointment filled me like lead. I heard his car engine ignite in the distance and, defeated, I closed the gate door and walked back to my house with nothing but a heavy heart and muddy feet.