Fiction/Prose

“I’ll Be Okay”

“I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay,” I promise. Is my smile too stiff? Is it natural to smile this long? I can’t let it falter; focusing on upholding this reassuring expression is the only thing stopping the tears from spilling down my face. It’s the only way I can continue looking into those deep brown eyes without falling apart.

The deep brown eyes of the girl I love are already filled with tears, black makeup smudged down to her cheeks, and I’m so scared that if I look away, or let the smile fall, or show in any way that the lump in my throat is the only thing holding everything inside, she will completely break down. And all I ever wanted was to make her happy, to see her smile, to keep her warm and safe and calm.

She insists that it’s not my fault, but I can’t do that anymore, not in the same way. And the thing is that I know in the long run that this is for the best for me, because I won’t have to compromise what I want, or partially sacrifice my happiness for her anymore. But the fact is that I loved compromising what I wanted and partially sacrificing my happiness for her. I wouldn’t have done it for anybody else, but for her I was always so willing to be anything she wanted me to be. I just wanted her to be happy. I just wanted her to find comfort in me.

And now I’m telling her that I will be okay, and my head knows that this is the truth because one day, yes, I’ll be fine, and I’ll think to myself ‘what a good job we ended whatever that was when we did!’, but right now my stomach is churning, my throat is clenching, my chest is aching, my eyes are burning, my lips are trembling, and it feels so much like I’m lying, no matter how many times I say it.

“I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay.”

She’s looking at me like she’s so so sorry, and that horribly stale smile is still etched into my face because whatever else I do in this moment would surely only make her feel worse. I’m shrugging off everything she says, as if I don’t care, but how can I tell her I care without making her feel awful for doing this? How can I tell her it hurts so much it feels like my entire body is being ripped apart, and that all I want to do is curl up in a ball in an attempt to hold myself together? I can’t tell her that, so I just keep spitting those same three words through gritted teeth and that hideous forced smile.

I want to say, “I’ll be here for you, I love you so much and I’ll never leave.” I want to tell her, “you are the coolest person I know; you are so beautiful and full of wonder and I love you,” I want to beg her to stay, that I will be whatever she needs, whenever she needs it, but I can’t. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, because it will make things worse.

“I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay,” I continue chanting inside my head in time with my footsteps as I walk away.

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