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Kayla

He loved Kayla in the way one loves a small child or an injured puppy.

He loved her, not because she was the right girl for him, but because he was the right one for her. He loved her because she was magnetic with gossamer wings and because on Mondays she smelled like Chanel No. 5 and roses and he loved her because he was supposed to, which is really no kind of love at all.

Perhaps, he even didn’t know this. It is unlikely, albeit not impossible, that he was doing it on purpose. But I prefer to err on the side of humanity. I like to believe that he did not do it on purpose. That he loved her as much as he was allotted, and that by some cruel trick of fate he simply had more capacity for Sarah.

Kayla was beautiful, but she was the kind of beauty that chills men to the core, all sharp lines and tight angles. Sarah was attractive enough, but she emanated warmth and safety. She made people feel secure and wanted. Of the two, certainly Kayla was more outwardly desirable, but there was something about her that set people on edge. A kind of nervous energy that reflected itself in her face, her mannerisms, her character. No doubt it came from her childhood, which had been filled with nights of broken glass and the antiseptic smell of drugstore vodka.

Because of this, Kayla was afraid. She was afraid of love, loss, and everything in between. He tried, with her, as much as he could. He held her when she cried and left when she told him. He stayed up with her when the nightmares came in waves that left her small and huddled under the sheets. He brought her flowers and called her at midnight to make sure she was okay. He was the first person she told, under the cover of the longest night of the year, of the things that men’s spiderlike, reaching hands had done to her when she was still very small. And she told him what it meant to truly lose something and never regain it. She taught him about abject hopelessness, the kind that only comes when there is nothing left to lose, because you have already lost yourself. He tried, because like a broken sparrow, she was inherently lovable and warranted sympathy.

He fought his love for Sarah, I know he did. He distanced himself from her, took himself off projects so that they would not cross paths, confessed to Kayla about his “minor crush,” as he called it, and gave up Facebook. But it was not enough. Destiny has a funny way of playing things out, sometimes. The more distance he got from Sarah, the more he loved her, and the closer he got to Kayla, the more cracks he could see in her icy façade.

And to Sarah’s credit, she too fought her emotions. If she knew what Kayla had experienced, she never said it, but our scars are more visible than we think. And Kayla’s scars were as deep as oceans. Whatever the reason, Sarah kept her distance from him as well. Watching and loving from afar, as lovesick people are wont to do. Sarah tried, I’m sure, to push him out of her mind. To forget the way he spoke in silver tongues, and the way his skin felt underneath her hands. The way their fingers interlocked like they were made for each other. How when she looked into his eyes, she saw the infinite abyss of the cosmos. Sarah was strong, stronger than most, but what good is one puny human against Fate’s rushing current?

I prefer to not believe in destiny. I think it makes things easier. But if there ever were a thing called Destiny, it certainly manifested itself in the tragic love story that befell Sarah. What had started out as mutual attraction blossomed into something beautiful and pure.

And Kayla knew this. In her heart of hearts, she knew that she was keeping him from perhaps his greatest love. But Kayla, through no fault of her own, was selfish. She had received so little, and sacrificed so much, that when her talons were firmly etched into his back, she refused to let go. Does this make her evil? I don’t know. I think it makes her human.

The dark years, that Kayla had spent alone with nobody but herself and strange bedfellows for company had nearly broken her. When he found her, she was nearly a shell of herself. Her whole life, she had been a small glass bottle tossed about in the furious currents of life’s many oceans, but he became her rock and island. In him she found solace and comfort. He may not have been perfect, but he was enough. And she loved him, in the only way she knew how, which was with burning, all-consuming passion. She loved him in the way her bedfellows had loved her. Which, again, was really no kind of love at all. But it was all she had ever known. From childhood, she had been taught that love and passion were intermingled in the tightest web available. She had been taught that her beauty was dangerous.

So when she found a man who loved her in spite of her beauty, why would she ever let him go?

Kayla was ethereal, but she was human, and maybe that was the biggest flaw of all. 

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