He planted himself outside her apartment that Saturday afternoon and waited patiently. Because her schedule hardly changed, he knew she would be heading to the park for a jog and then to the grocery store. He would have made a bet with anyone that she’d still do it and he was right; she left her apartment after he’d been there for thirty minutes and he followed her down to the park.
She was stretching before her run when she sensed someone walking up to her. Turning around quickly, she found Nick looking down at her with an expression that ran from sad to hurt to angry. Not wanting to have this conversation in public, she suggested going back to his truck to talk. Once they were settled, she waited a few moments before Nick began to talk.
“Why Emma? That’s all I really want to know.”
“Because we, mostly me, can’t keep doing this.”
“Keep having doubts every time someone comes into your life.”
“It’s not that easy and it’s not fair to you.”
“Why is it not fair to me?”
“I keep overreacting and you keep trying to reassure me. You shouldn’t have to apologize to me or try to prove how much you love me.”
“But I do love you.” Nick replied.
“I know.” Emma said with tears starting to form in her eyes. “I love you too.”
“Then why are we having this discussion?”
“Because it’s not that easy. Love shouldn’t have to be so much work and one person shouldn’t feel like they have to constantly remind the other one how much they care.”
“Love is work Emma, both people need to participate.”
“I know but sometimes loving each other just isn’t enough to make it work.”
“But we can make it work.”
“I don’t think we can, at least not now. I keep worrying about issues that might break us up or might hurt us. If I can’t get past that point, then I can’t open up to you like you need me to.”
“I’ll take whatever you can give me Em. We can work on this and make it better. I can deal with whatever I need to except you walking out again.”
“I’m sorry Nick but I just don’t believe this can work.”
Nick sat there and didn’t say anything. He was pouring his heart out and getting it broken in the process; why was love so hard?
“I have to tell you something else.”
“What? When? Why?” Nick said so fast the words came tumbling out.
“In about two weeks.”
“Where are you going?”
“What the hell is in North Carolina?”
“A new job.”
“I don’t understand, you already have a job.”
“I know but I’m going to take a sabbatical. One of the schools down there has a special English program they’d like to implement and they offered me a one year position.”
“Wait a minute. If you were moving in with me, were you still going to do it?”
“No, I didn’t know about it until last week. I applied and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to get the position.”
Nick didn’t even know what to say. First she breaks up with him and then she tells him that she’s moving halfway down the eastern seaboard to take a job. He wanted to talk some sense into her and make her stay; the problem was that she already seemed to have her mind made up.
“I’m sorry Nick, for all of this. It’s my fault and I don’t want you to keep paying for my mistakes. You deserve to have someone in your life that won’t make you jump through hoops to keep them. Please understand that I’m doing what I think is best and it’s hurts me that I can’t be that person for you.”
Emma opened his passenger side door and climbed out. Before she closed it, she apologized again and headed back to her car. Instead of going out for a run, she got back in her car and drove out of the parking lot leaving Nick there to figure out what was happening.
She wasn’t surprised to hear from AJ that night.
“What the hell is going on?” he demanded when she picked up.
“I’m sorry AJ.”
“You shouldn’t be telling me that, you should be telling Nick.”
“Well your apology sucked.”
Emma knew she deserved that.
“I have no idea why you’re doing this but you need to stop. You love him and he loves you…”
“But it’s not enough AJ.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Because I’m bad for Nick. Maybe he and the rest of you don’t see that but I am. Every time I have a doubt, he feels the need to prove to me how much he loves me. That’s not fair to him and I refuse to keep putting him through it. I totally understand if everyone hates me for this and if you never speak to me again, I earned that. Please be there for Nick and I’ll see you again. Maybe.”
She hung up the phone and made her way into her bedroom. Pulling up her email, she sent a message to the woman at the new school letting her know that she had booked a flight out for the end of the week. This whole situation was wrong and her heart was breaking because of what she was doing. Maybe she was being selfish or using this as a cop out, she just didn’t know what was left to do. She spent the next few hours packing her things and fell into bed exhausted.
Four days later:
Nick found out through Addie when and where Emma’s flight was taking out of. He was determined not to leave that airport without her and she was surprised to see him waiting in the terminal for her.
“What are you doing here?”
“Stopping you from making a mistake.”
“I’m not making a mistake Nick. Maybe you don’t see it this way, but I feel like I’m doing what’s best for everyone.”
“Stop deciding what’s best for me.”
She ignored his request. “You can find someone who makes you happy and who doesn’t need you to prove anything. I won’t be in the way and you won’t have to avoid anyone.”
“I want you to be in the way. I want you to be there in the morning when I wake up, at night when I go to sleep and every time in between. I don’t care if you think I am being strained too much. Let me make that decision myself.”
The attendant called her flight and she picked up her carry-on bag. Nick pulled on the strap and drew her as close to him as he could.
“I am begging you Em; please do not get on that plane. I love you more than I can tell you and it will break my heart if you leave.”
Tears started streaming down her face as she pulled away.
“I’m sorry Nick.”
She left him standing there as he watched her board her flight to North Carolina. He wanted to run out on the tarmac and stop her plane but he needed to resign himself to the fact that she was leaving. Emma had walked out of his life, probably for good this time, and as he headed back to the parking lot her words stuck in his head. Sometimes love just isn’t enough.