He spotted them, not one hundred yards in front of him. They were walking; she was loosely holding on to his arm and his head was angled slightly toward her body. They laughed. He thought he might cry, and silently breathed a sigh.
This wasn’t something he had bargained for, when he had left his warm, cozy, inoffensive apartment not ten minutes ago in an effort to finally venture out into the cold outside world again. He hadn’t bargained on running into the people who had sent him into a tailspin in the first place, an out-of-control landing that ended up with him locked in his room for days, living off Pop-Tarts and milk and scrolling through his brief text conversations with her over, and over, and over again in the futile hopes that she might respond to his latest chat message.
It had gone unanswered for more than a week; she surely must have seen it by now. By now, it was just a derelict hope, just like Russians at Stalingrad, the last person on Roanoke, pirates before the noose.
And then she had delivered the killing blow. She had dashed hopes of a fairy tale-like climax, a season finale to an especially cheerful sitcom, the kind with a laugh track and a sassy saxophone intro. She had someone else. Not him, and that was the worst.
They had so much in common, and by ‘they’ he meant himself and her, not the bloated acne-riddled jackass that now held onto her arm. She would have been much happier with him, he was sure, and it took all of his self-control to stop himself from running up to them and forcefully separating them into two again.
But then, they laughed, and she smiled, and he tucked her hand just a little bit tighter into the folds of his own.
And from one hundred yards away, the loser sprinted away in the opposite direction like the coward he ultimately determined himself to be.