“Have mercy,” she pleaded just before his fingers wrapped around the doorknob.
He opened the door but stopped for a moment. Maybe he had misheard her. She lowered her knees, which had muffled her voice from having them held against her face. She brushed a stray hair back. She blinked tears away until she could see him and her heart hurt to think this would be the last image she had of him – back turned, head down, one hand on the door and the other clenched in a fist. She wanted to repeat herself but the words had already left.
She did not know what she expected. He couldn’t come back after a fight like that. She couldn’t take him back. She made herself think, though she had to squint her eyes slightly and concentrate very hard to do so. He was still there at the door. That was a sign of something, right?
“I know you don’t want me right now. I can’t blame you. But I know I can prove you wrong. I know I can show you that I do deserve you and you’re supposed to be with me.” She drew in a ragged breath and waited.
He turned the tiniest bit, but his hand stayed on the door, a loaded gun with his finger on the trigger.
“You decide how long it takes, how many years I have to wait for you. If it’s only one year, you know where to find me. If it’s ten years, just search harder. If it’s not in this lifetime, then we’ll find each other in the next.”
Silence. She wished she could hear him thinking.
“How will I know?” He finally asked. He didn’t have to finish. Years of being together meant she could interpret his meanings even with scant beginnings. She needed a way to let him know if she’d gotten over him, so he didn’t show up one day to find her engaged or something.
She rubbed at her eyes, suddenly exhausted. For the first time she felt her age, instead of feeling like a middle-school preteen, innocent and unhurt and with no self-hatred. Another hair fell in front of her face, and she tucked it behind her ear, frustrated. Then she knew what it had to be.
“When my hair is blonde,” she told him. “Not the light brown it is now, not highlighted, when it is full-out golden, yellow, hay-colored, blonde. That’s when you’ll know.”
He lingered for a moment longer before he shut the door behind him. She didn’t know where he was going. Probably to a friend’s house, another girl’s house, and they would laugh and he would act like nothing had happened. She stayed there on the floor trying to keep herself awake and whole.
It got very quiet again.
She closed her eyes just to rest for a minute.
Before she fell asleep, she wondered how he would interpret it if she dyed her hair darker.