I walk a lonely road.
- - - - -
In the park down the street, there's a bench on one of the walking trails.
Sometimes she sits there, the sky an indecisive mix of dreary gray and optimistic blue, the leaves golden and burnt looking, scattered on the ground in patterns she can't describe. She can almost smell autumn, can almost taste it on her tongue, sharp, like cinnamon.
And she can't believe it's been five months.
The loneliness is unbearable sometimes. She tries to let people in, she tries to get close to people, but she can't. Jay is there, but not really. He's busy with work, and then he hangs out with Sean (and sometimes Emma, too), and even though he calls Alex and tells her to come, she can't bring herself to. Instead, she buries herself in her text books, and pretends she can't hear her cellphone when it rings a second, third, time.
Sometimes, instead of sitting, she walks down the trail, the trees bare and framing the sky, the pavement cool and worn-down.
She remembers a warm hand in her own, remembers warm breath on her skin as a kiss is placed against her cheek when no one's looking. She remembers bumping noses and grinning, and notes passed in the hallways.
Once in a while she licks her lips, and she doesn't taste autumn, but spring; the hint of strawberries, just barely ripe. But the strawberries are gone now, and the cinnamon taste now just leaves her mouth feeling dry and empty.
When Carla kisses her, tasting of the hot chocolate they'd shared, it's almost good enough. She can't taste strawberries and she can't taste cinnamon, and she thinks that she's finally getting good at forgetting.
Pretending, more like, but she doesn't let herself think like that.
She takes Carla to the park, and they sit on that same bench, and they walk down that same lone, winding path. But it's colder now than it was in spring, and so she can only feel a gloved hand in her own bare one, and when Carla kisses her on the cheek, her scarf is scratchy and imposing.
Her phone vibrates in her pocket. She ignores it. Later, she checks the caller ID, and she licks her lips, because they're cracked and dry from her walk with Carla in the park.
She tastes strawberries.