As soon as I entered the ticket hall at the station, I knew something was up... I have no idea why, but I could sense something wasn't quite... I don't know. I can't describe it so I don't know why I would even try but let's just leave it at "I knew".
What I didn't know, couldn't possibly have known, was that I would run into my ex. The one known as "The One Who Got Away".
It was my fault, of course, it always is. And how she used to tell me off for not watching where I was going... it's one of the reasons we split up.
And I wasn't.
Watching where I was going, that is. So, I literally ran straight into her. She wasn't watching where she was going either, obviously, but her reason wasn't terminal shyness, it was because she was walking with one of the most gorgeous little children I'd ever seen and they were having a lively debate over which was a better colour: red or green. I had heard some of their conversation as it drifted into my consciousness. I may not have seen them, but I heard them. I listen to people. That's what I do.
When I looked up from the collision with her, my heart at once sank into my feet and began pounding so loudly it drowned out any coherent thought I had hoped to have.
She looked dishevelled, which I immediately found disconcerting as she was ever serene when we were together. Our mutual friends, the ones she "won" in the split up, always quipped that we were like chalk and cheese. I was hurried, frazzled, excitable versus her utter calmness in any situation... even when I inevitably broke something on our way out the door to one of her important work functions and we then had to stop and clean up the mess.
Her clear brown eyes met mine and the half-mumbled apology on her lips fell away. Her hand flew to her hair, smoothing imaginary strays, and she muttered my name before collecting herself so quickly that I worried of an impending sonic boom.
I mumbled her name in return and tried to smile but it was stolen, along with my breath as she breezily announced, "I thought you were... gone". She squeezed the hand of the adorable child beside her and smiled bigger, her voice softening before she continued, "I didn't expect to run into you".
My heart broke at seeing her with a child... I had always wanted children; she didn't.
Or, at least she didn't with me, I thought unfairly.
I cleared my throat and ran my fingers through my manic hair in an effort to collect my thoughts before I responded. "My research took an unexpected turn. It turns out that the story is right here and I'm about to send my second edition to my editor. Listen..." I took a deep breath. This was going to be hard. Painful, most likely, but she'd always tried pushing me to be more assertive. "Could we maybe get together some time to, you know... talk?"
I suddenly couldn't bear to look her in the eye so glanced down at the child, desperate to avoid her gaze but also to see if the young boy looked like her. Are you hers? Is that your mother? I hoped to bore the question into his head, unsure which answer I wanted more.
She straightened and I caught the movement from the corner of her eye. I attempted to mimic her posture but I've always been a sloucher. Another thing that annoyed her to no end. Her eyes bore into mine as she quietly said, "It's been ten years. You need to move on. Please. Let it go. Let me go."
Her voiced raised a little and she lifted her chin before announcing, "Right, Emmett. Come along or we'll be late for the zoo!" She tugged the little boy's hand and off they went.
I couldn't bear to turn and watch them walk away. I couldn't bear to let them see the tears that had suddenly sprung to my eyes.
The name I had wanted to name our unborn son all those years ago.