Without warning, he found himself enamored with the girl. He found himself immersed in her life story, wanting desperately to be the next chapter. He desired to explore every inch of her soul, namely the pieces of it that she hid away from the rest of the world. He wanted to know the depths to which her sadness expands and the heights to which her joy reaches. He needed to know who she was, who she wanted to be, and who she’s vowed to never be. Did she want to be like her mother or did she swear she’d never? Did she want to be like no woman she’s ever met before, leaving different shoes to fill for the daughter she’ll have one day?
Oh, how he wanted to know every second and every moment that lead her to the one she was in right now, sitting across from him. He wanted to thank the men he felt were reckless enough to let her go, for he knew had they cherished her he wouldn’t have had this opportunity. He wanted to meet her people so he could see the ways in which they helped shaped her into the woman that was sitting across from him. He wanted to know what made her the woman that had the potential to hold his world and crush it all at the same time. He yearned to pick up the pieces of her heart she’s swept off the side and deemed, “Unworthy.” He desired to hold her until she trusted.
He knew this would be no easy task. He saw her fists up, not to strike but to guard herself. He could see she was dancing with him in the ring, waiting for that strike. How he wished she would let her fists down. He saw her protecting herself in the way she turned her face from him when he told her, “You’re beautiful.” He saw the bricks she had laid when she covered her smile or blushed when she laughed too loudly. She overused “I’m sorry” for the simplest of things, like when she spoke passionately about her career or when she got emotional at the song that was playing. He saw her seek his permission to have another drink, to dance at the bar when nobody else was, to be affectionate, as if she was waiting for him to say, “Too much.” Who had hurt her so deeply to make her flinch so much at the first sign of love? What had they said to her to make her cover herself up? Who had told her that there were pieces of her that weren’t lovely? Who had deemed her, “Too much?”
She kept a safe distance, always. She let people in just enough for them to think they had a shared vulnerability, only for her to keep pieces of herself out of view. They couldn’t know she was insecure. They couldn’t know the ways she had been hurt. She expected more of herself. Very few people have made her feel safe enough to take off her gloves and let her arms rest, and in a stranger she found someone that made her want to step out of the ring for good and never be that girl again. She found herself wanting to unlock the door and let him into that room that she’s kept so many people out of. So she started to. She started to let him in. She started to let him learn her.
You’ve felt this before, she tells herself. It’s true. She had felt this way before. She had deemed someone safe enough to come inside before. One came in and pointed out all the messes, making her feel unworthy. One came in and tore the room completely apart. One wouldn’t even come through the doorway because he himself had not yet explored his own brokenness. Each time someone left, whether by her doing or theirs, she locked the door and vowed that it would remain locked. Oh, but she yearned for someone to come inside, wrap their arms around her, and say, “I see you” and continue to love her.
She wanted to break down her walls. She didn’t want walls. She wanted a home. She wanted walls around them, not between them. She wanted to dance, not defend. The way he looked at her, the way he kissed her, the way his lips grazed her forehead; they all made her want to sit, share a bottle of wine with him, and tell him everything that made her who she was in the exact moment. She wanted to show him who she was and share with him who she wanted to be. She saw a light in his eyes. She saw an honesty in him that she wanted desperately to believe.
Yet, she found herself tightening her gloves and keeping her hands up, ready to defend. She’d never swing first, no. She just didn’t want to get hit. She waited for his swing. She waited for the first offense. She was ready for it. She knew he saw it. She knew he was trying to get her to lower her fists, only to have her back up and resist. She felt herself pushing back less and less as he pursued her heart more and more.
Until one day, her fists fell, her gloves slipped off, and her heart opened up.