Leave Me In London

For Round 10 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest, we asked you to send a story in the form of a voice mail message. Our winner was “Sorry for Your Loss.”

London at night i i
iStockPhoto.com
London at night
iStockPhoto.com

You're sleeping, I know. That's why I'm calling. I'm staring at the old Spitalfields church and someone is playing a bagpipe on a roof across the street. I never even wanted to enter a church before we came here. Now I'm crying in every cathedral. It's London, this city. I didn't think I could love a place like I love New York. A month in a different country can change everything.

Three a.m. and the city is still so alive. God, you should be awake to hear this. We could go on a night walk and listen on different side streets. Remember when we waltzed in the alley? I finally found the nerve to put my head on your shoulder and then you pulled away. But for a moment there, I swear, you wanted to.

This is our last year together. I'm applying for schools in New York, and you'll be trying to write ... where? Colorado? Destination unknown. Sure, we'll pretend distance doesn't make a difference. You'll send me your desert poems. About lizards and feeling like cacti. I'll write stories about animosity with nostalgia for you. You'll notice but won't want to say. You'll get married and I'll
forget a friend. Three years and it'll all be gone soon.

We were meant to be best friends. That first day of class, we were the only ones who raised our hands when the professor asked who J.D. Salinger was. I never told you, but I saw you before that. I was sitting in the grass writing in my journal, looking for anyone doing the same thing as me. There were people talking in groups. Sleeping. Frisbee. I remember I felt so alone on campus, like I wasn't in the right place. And then you walked by. With your over-sized statement headphones, and you sat down under a tree. Started reading. Which book was it? I wondered how it made you feel. I wrote about you. I described a skinny boy with dark hair and worry lines across his forehead. The perfect representation. It was such a relief to see you. I didn't even know you but suddenly I wasn't alone anymore.

I am in the right place now. And if we fly home tomorrow, I'm not sure I'll ever feel like this again.

Going back to America means going back to how things were. You've never kissed me or held my hand while walking down the street or fallen asleep in my bed. You call us the Queen and the Court Jester. Except that's not how we are. We are two sides of a record. Worthy adversaries. You're my equivalent. We've been cowards, feigning friendship when we know it's not enough.

I love you like I love churches, like I love London. I never knew I could until I came here. I've kept it closed off but I can't let you go home without saying, let me love you and I'll never love anyone else again.

Don't get on the plane tomorrow. I know it's the biggest risk you'll ever take but I'm doing the same thing by leaving this message. I won't be afraid anymore, even if it means losing you completely. Hasn't the chaos of this city made you feel anything at all? Don't go back to safety. Stay the rest of the summer. If you've loved me for three years, meet me in the hotel lobby at the time our flight is supposed to leave. If you don't, then leave me in London.

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