The Roots We Owned

Posted by Rittika Adhikari on October 31, 2020

August 5, 2019

I’m not sure what you want me to say. I’m not sure what you expect me to say. Do you just expect me to beam up at you, yell “Congratulations!” and hug you as hard as I can? Do you expect me to fall at your knees, and beg you to stay with me? 

I’m not sure what you want. You don’t even look at me when you say it. I don’t think you can look at me when you say it. But, I can tell it was what you had always wanted, so I just smile at you and muster out an “I’m so happy.” 

August 12, 2019

You try to pretend like everything is normal today. We haven’t talked in a week. But you run into me on the street, and you act like I’m your oldest friend. We talk about the weather, and everything but what happened. 

I fake a smile, because I’m sure all you were looking for was my approval. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure why you needed it in the first place. It’s your life, not mine. I’m clearly not a part of it anymore, so there was no point in looking to me. 

You hug me before you leave, and your cologne sticks to me throughout the day. Did I ever tell you how much I hated this cologne?

August 15, 2019

You try messaging me again. I try to ignore you, but it’s too long of a message for me to read without opening the message. You probably knew I’d ignore you, so this was your way of being heard. Smartass. 

The temptation is too much, so I open the message. You try to explain everything to me, and you tell me this wouldn’t change anything for us. I know it’s a load of bullshit. I know you’re just trying to make me feel better. I send a gif of a happy cat, and tuck my phone under my pillow. 

August 16, 2019

You want to meet up today. I don’t know what you could possibly want to talk about, after we had “settled” everything yesterday. Maybe you just want to ease your guilty conscience. Maybe you remember the promises you made me when we were 18.

Or, maybe you just want to rub it all in my face. Maybe you want to show me that yes, you’ve finally gotten everything you wanted in life. And you sure as hell didn’t need me. 

I decide to go anyways, to see what new bullcrap you could pull out of your ass. You really were a business major, through and through. 

We meet for coffee. You smile like everything is perfectly fine. I can’t wipe the look of disgust and utter confusion off my face. So, you say, “It’s only for five years.” 

Pfft. Like that helps. 

I don’t know when I became so insignificant to you. I don’t know when I became insignificant enough for you to not even consider telling me. You told Serena before you told me. Of all the people to tell… 

It’s like Serena was a part of this decision, and I was just sitting on the sidelines, waiting for whatever consequences you would reap.

You had told me I could finally trust that you wouldn’t run off. Just three weeks ago, you told me I could trust in a forever with you. Maybe I should have put my trust in your forever with Serena. 

August 17, 2019

I don’t know why you keep apologizing, and then pretending like nothing ever happened. I suppose this relentless cycle will only continue for a few more days, so I shouldn’t wallow in self pity.

You called me to your apartment. I was always the most organized, and you were always the messiest. You couldn’t pack for the life of you, and as much as I hate you, I know you needed my help. 

Your arm brushed against mine, and I could see it in your eyes. I look away. It’s only three more days. 

August 18, 2019

I fell asleep on your brown couch. It feels like we’re sophomores in college again. You put the same old blanket on me when I was sleeping. It somehow smells like you. 

“Coffee?” you ask, pouring the dark brown liquid into your porcelain cup. You know I’m a tea person, so I don’t know why you bother. “Sure,” I mumble, and you raise your eyebrow.

“You don’t want tea?” I don’t want you to leave. 

“I’ll take the coffee.” Maybe the bitterness would get my mind off of you. 

“Too bad.” You smile at me and pull out the tea bags you’ve stashed in a drawer, just for me. I guess in another day, you won’t need them anymore. Maybe you just want to use them all up, so you don’t have any wasted guilt. 

“You know me so well.” And you do. It’s unfair that you hold this ungrateful power over me. Oh I loathe you. 

We sit and watch the news, and it feels like we were just 21 three days ago, lounging around without a care. It felt like old times, good times, when we thought we knew our roots, and thought that we would forever remain burrowed into these grounds. 

But those times were years ago, and we had been cruelly hacked until we could finally serve everyone else. 

August 19, 2019

“So this is it,” you say, staring at the boxes stacked along the walls. 

“It’s really the end of an era.” I can’t believe you’re going to be gone. The moving truck is patiently waiting outside for us to load all of these boxes. 

It’s the end of 10 years. It’s the beginning of me watching your life from the sidelines, talking with you when you’re three time zones and thousands of miles away from me.

It’s the beginning of me wondering why on earth I ever thought we could work, and why I can’t get rid of the suffocating feeling in my chest that screams, “I want you.” It’s the beginning of me trying to move on from a decade of loving you, a decade of hoping that we could finally be together. 

We load all of the boxes onto the moving truck, and stare in the empty apartment. It looks exactly like it did three years ago when I helped you move in. But, there were the dents, from our graduation pictures that used to hang on the wall. There’s the coffee stain that imprinted itself on the summer oak table. There’s the patchy chalk white that tried to cover the discoloration on the wall. There’s skid marks from the time your little cousin visited and tried to make marks with his sneakers.

I look at you, only to find you staring at me. 

I clear my throat. 

You run your hand through your hair, and if I close my eyes…

If I close my eyes, I can feel you grabbing my face in your piano hands and kissing me like we were nineteen and stupid and in love again. 

But when I open my eyes, I just see you looking out the window, staring at that moving truck like it’s your destiny. 

The loud honk jolts us out of our daydreams. 

“I guess it’s time,” you say. Time for you to seek your happily ever after? Time for you to leave me? Time for me to start over with someone new? Time for me to waste my days and nights wondering if there could ever be an us, even five years from now? What is it time for? 

I extend a hand to you. 

“Come on, this seems awfully cruel for a decade of… friendship,” you chuckle. You pull me into a hug instead. 

No, what’s awfully cruel is you letting me believe that there would finally be an us for ten years, until something better came along. What’s cruel is you expecting me to wait for another five years, until you might have gotten over your “destiny” and your “dreams” or you decided to take pity on me and put a ring on my finger to avoid any unresolved guilt. 

But I don’t say any of that.

I look up at you, and our faces are so close that they might as well be touching. I try to memorize your face, the smell of your hair, the color of your eyes. Though I don’t know why I bother. 

You bend down, and for a second, I thought...  I can’t tell if you missed, or if this is what you meant to do the whole time. You kiss my cheek softly. How cruel. 

We walk down the stairs, and I watch you hop into the moving truck, and drive away out of my life, smiling and waving as you leave. Is it for five years, like you promised? Is it forever? I don’t know. 

I get a text message from you. “Check my bedside drawer, before you leave my keys with the landlord.”

I climb up three flights of stairs, open your bedroom door, and look inside the drawer. There’s a tiny box and a letter in the drawer. It’s a delicate necklace with a silver diamond ring. The letter is addressed to “the girl I thought I would marry.” 


I’m sorry I couldn’t give this to you in person. I wanted you to know how I feel before I leave for Europe, but if I gave this to you… It would feel too much like officially closing the chapter on us. 

Honestly, I’m not sure why I bought this ring. I was just window shopping, and I saw the most perfect ring for you. I just had to buy it. I’m not sure why, it’s not like we were ever seriously dating. But a stupid little voice in my head told me that we’d end up married someday.

Well, that stupid little voice was clearly wrong. I know that when I leave, things will never be the same again. How could they? It’s been a game of tug of war all of these years. Do you love me? Do you love me not? Do I love you? Do I love you not? Our feelings have been muddled and confused for the longest time. 

Sometimes, I look at you and think that you must be my soulmate. Because only a soulmate would love me after we’ve torn each other to pieces, and smacked a label of friendship on it to make it better. 

But soulmate or not, I can’t not leave. It’s my dream job. I’ve been working for this my entire life.

But, you’ve left your mark on me. The smell of tea leaves and flowers will forever remind me of you. I remember the faint indentation on my bed, from when you used to stay the night. I remember waking up and thinking, I never want you to leave. Because I can’t possibly imagine someone else in my arms, except for you. But here I am. Leaving. I’m a damn hypocrite, aren’t I?

It feels like the end of an era. I never really thought that it would end like this. I’m sorry for promising you a future with me; I never thought that it could end. I’m sorry that we weren’t ever quite dating, and that we weren’t ever quite friends, and that we just lived an entire era being lovers, but not, strangers, but not.

This ring has been sitting in my pocket for the past three months, weighing me down with guilt whenever I saw you. Part of me wanted to keep it as a memory of what could have been between us. But I knew I’d regret not telling you how I felt.

I know I should be happy. I should be so happy. I’m getting everything I ever wanted… except for you.

In an ideal world, you’d be in Europe with me, and we’d get married, and have a family, and travel the world. 

But sometimes, life doesn’t work out the way we plan it. And life moves on, so we have to too. 

I hope that someday, our paths will intersect.

Until then, adieu my love.

I wear the necklace and tuck it into my shirt. I neatly fold the letter, and secure it in my wallet.

As I leave your apartment, I realize it’s all finally over.