It was hard to ignore the fact that he was beautiful. She knew it the second she saw him in the main square in a small town in Spain. She didn’t think anyone like him existed in her hometown because they didn’t. This person was someone she knew wasn’t going to be easily replicated. It was there, in a small town far away from home, she felt what love at first sight felt like.
How she ended up there was long and convoluted. It was a life she never wanted to live again. She had her heartbroken and now she was trying to put the pieces back together. She had rented her own apartment for two months. She wanted to feel fully immersed in something different. She craved different. She needed something new.
Every day, at the same time, she’d grab her book and go to the square. Every day she saw him open his store and laugh with other locals. She couldn’t keep her nose in her book when he came around. She so badly wanted to know him.
Then one day, when she wasn’t paying attention, his hello caught her by surprise. She was so surprised, she knocked over her coffee. They paused then laughed as they cleaned up the mess she had made.
“You come here every day and I see you looking at me but you never say hi,” he said and she felt herself instantly blush. Oh God she had been so obvious and it was embarrassing as hell.
“Well I,” she stopped. She didn’t know what to say because he had just called her out for being a proper stalker. And maybe she was. She had been coming to the same place every day just to catch a glimpse of him because seeing him made her day. It made her feel less alone in a strange place.
“So, I figured today I would say hi to you,” his smile made her relax. He was just as beautiful up close that she almost lost her breath. She had definitely lost her words.
She realized how completely cliché it sounded to her friends back home when she would call them and tell them how she had spent the day hiking with this amazing local man. She realized that this wasn’t the dream that everyone got to live and she realized that people were never going to believe her. And that was OK in her books. She got to experience something just for herself and he was the perfect secret to keep.
They had always known she was going to leave one day. When that day came, and he carried her travel pack down to the train station, she couldn’t help herself from bursting into tears. She knew that this part of her life had ended and she had to go back to reality; even though every fiber of her being was screaming for her to stay.
But she couldn’t stay. And he couldn’t come with her. Their lives were too different and too far apart for this to ever work long term. Sure, they could write. They could call. They could text. But was it ever going to be enough? What happens when they meet other people? It was too many variables for them to ever be able to make this work. They had decided that they were going to live in the moment and when it was over they were going to let each other go.
She didn’t know how hard it would be to actually let him go though. She didn’t know there would be an aching in her soul that she had never known before. She didn’t know that getting on that train was going to be the hardest steps she’s ever taken.
But she did it. She got on the train. She flew back home. She cried most of the way. She went back to her normal life. Everything was how it was when she left and it was almost like she had never left at all.
That’s the thing about falling in love abroad. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and she knew that.
Still, in a café back home, far away from the man that changed her life, when her phone pinged and it was him, her heart exploded the way it did back then. And she let herself go right back to that square in the small town in Spain.