He pressed his feet onto the brakes. They were so busy laughing that he didn’t even notice the red light flashing.
“You almost got me arrested there!” he exclaimed at the girl sitting next to him.
She was laughing just as much. “Well sorry for telling a story that turned out to be your cracking point. OK, not.”
They both laughed on for a few seconds. Then there was silence. Such silence that hang into the air and would make you wish the other would break the ice first.
“So…” he said first, with a sigh. “You’ve thrown away every chance that guy once had of calling you his, huh?”
“I can’t exactly just say yes and be with someone I could never truly love. You and I both know that,” she explained.
“Lucky guy, he’d never have to deal with your insanity.”
“Hey,” she punched his arm. “Who asked you to stay anyway?”
“Tell my head that, it’s telling me that I can’t go a day without you,” he said, still grinning.
She felt the color rising in her cheeks. “Oh please… your sweet talk doesn’t work on me.”
“Who says I’m only sweet-talking? What if I tell you I mean that?” his tone grew serious and he looked her straight in the eye.
She cleared her throat. “I’ll tell you the same thing.”
They both turned away, trying to suppress the smile forming on each other’s faces.
The traffic light turned green.
It was raining that time and he drove slower and halted as he reached the traffic light.
She was looking out the window with a blank look on her face. He wore a grim expression. He knew she wouldn’t cry. She never cries in front of anyone unless she can’t help it.
“You OK?” he said.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” her answer was instant and she was used to faking smiles. “Thank you.”
“You shouldn’t have let them do that to you. Whatever they said, don’t take it too hard, alright? I should have been there earlier. I should have stopped them from hurting you like that, especially hitting you. I should have –“
He stopped as she planted a kiss on his cheek. “You don’t have to. Thank you for simply being there.” She forced a thankful smile and decided to hug her knees.
He was still worried. “Hey,” he said. “Don’t let them bring you down. I know you and whatever they say… I’d still be here.” He took her hand which was rested on her knees, as if saying “I’ve got you” and she didn’t even bother to slap it away.
That for him, was enough.
The traffic light turned green and he still had his hand in hers.
The traffic light turned red just as they finished singing along to their favorite song and laughed.
“You’re way out of tune,” she said.
“Yet you’re still here, hitching a ride in my car,” he retorted with his usual playful grin. “Hey, can I tell you something?”
“Well…” he stared into the distance, smiling to himself. “I think I’m in love.”
Her face fell for a split second but she arranged it to her most playful grin and nudged his arm. “Who’s the unlucky girl?”
“It’s this girl from a part-time job I got during spring break. She’s beautiful, funny, and I can talk to her just about anything and it would go on for hours. I… I can’t put my mind to rest from thinking about her.”
The light in her eyes dimmed, but she kept beaming at him. “Good for you, dude. It’s about time you fall in love again!”
“Well, we live in different towns and it’s –“
“There goes the reasoning. Alright, I’ll help you. I’ll seriously help you and I’ll never stop until you can call her yours.”
He smiled his thanks and came to his senses when he heard all the honking from behind as the traffic light has turned green.
Whereas she, she was regretting the promise she’d uttered just to hide her own crumbling self upon hearing him speak of the other girl.
The car came to a stop at the red light. She sighed and rested her head at the steering wheel. She’d kept her promise and helped him, despite wishing to wake up and hear him say that his new girlfriend now isn’t what he thought she would be. But that never came.
She was helping him to get the girl and helping herself to be distanced by him.
The passenger’s seat of his car has now been claimed by someone else. She now drives alone, badly wishing each day to go back to where she’d be there. She’d done everything for him and always stayed for him even if she wished to leave sometimes. She’d been there for him the entire time and she loved him so that she let him go just so he would be happy. She didn’t know where did she go wrong, no matter how many times she replayed everything in her head.
That special place in her heart reserved for him couldn’t be filled by someone else. There were some guys, doing things that would sweep other girls off their feet, but not her. She’s stuck in her own traffic light and the 127 seconds there seem to last forever. How can she let go of someone that has been everything to her? She let out a huge sigh.
The last 20 seconds of her time in this traffic light has come. Maybe someday, her own mental traffic light would finally have its last 20 seconds.
She put down her feet at the gas pedal gently and moved as the light turned green. She prayed that someday, that light would turn green and she could finally move.