simon imagine - always you
“After everything…I’d still choose you.”
The ceremony was beautiful. It was eccentric; bright and modern, everything you could expect from Josh and Freya.
I didn’t get to congratulate the bride until the after party. She had seemed incredibly overwhelmed and busy, and I didn’t want to add to it. I wanted to keep my presence quiet. Once I’d spoke to her, I could go.
When she saw me her jaw dropped. She engulfed me in a hug instantly, her eyes glossing over, tears threatening to ruin her expensive looking makeup.
“Y/n you came! I’m so glad you came!”
I reciprocated the hug. “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, Frey.”
When she eventually pulled away I held her at arms length, admiring her dress. It was a beautiful floor length ensemble, eggshell white and classy, accentuating her newfound curves perfectly. She’d gotten somewhat thicker in the years since I’d seen her. It suited her unbelievably; maybe that’s what being in love does to a person.
“Well I’m glad you came,” she spoke before I could compliment her, making me realise I’d previously been silent, and I couldn’t help but feel a little rude. “I have something to tell you.”
My heart rate sped a little as Josh joined her side. He pulled me in for a short but warming hug, one I got the feeling would be a lot longer if he hadn’t overheard Freya’s previous sentence. Knowing she was still talking he only mouthed a hello before snaking his arm protectively round her waist. Once again I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of the love in which they had both been blessed with. I really was a bitter soul.
“What is it?” I asked, mainly to silence my intrusive thoughts. The couple looked at each other.
This time it was my turn to well up, tears threatening to fall from my eyes as a range of emotions overwhelmed me. Mainly it was pride. Happiness, hopefulness. A little part of it was that stir of jealousy in the pit of my stomach. That’s what happens when you walk around with a broken heart - it poisons all your other organs too.
I pulled the couple in to hug them.
“Congratulations you guys. I love you both so much.” I gushed into both their ears, the words tasting bitter on my tongue. “How far gone are you?”
“She’s only about three months,” Josh explained.
“You look good for it.”
“Doesn’t she just.”
The conversation seemed to die down quite quickly, and I was well aware that my time here was coming to an end. I contemplated leaving now. I’d said my congratulations; everything else was unnecessary.
“Well, I should probably get going.” I began to excuse myself when Freya put a hand on my shoulder. She pleaded for me to wait, and so reluctantly, I did. Her eyes poured into mine.
“Have you seen him yet?”
It was as if the breath had been knocked out of my chest, and I tried to ignore Josh’s quiet scolding of Freya intended to be out of my earshot.
“You don’t have to talk about it, Y/n.” He attempted to reassure me, and I shook my head gratefully.
“No, it’s fine. I haven’t.”
I knew she meant Simon. I knew he would be here tonight - of course, he had more place here than I did. But I hoped I would be able to escape before there was any risk of bumping into him. I had no idea what I would say - or do - or if he’d be here alone. The thought of him with a date made my chest hurt, and I wanted nothing more than to leave.
“How long has it been?” Freya pressed further, her voice cautious. Next to her Josh looked incredibly uncomfortable. You and me both, I thought, feeling my throat start to tighten a little.
“It’s been five years.”
Both their eyes softened and I felt tears threaten my own once again. I looked to the floor. Five years sounded almost longer than it felt. It had been an incredibly lonely five years too. I lived on my own now, falling asleep each night next to nothing but silence. I was growing older - old enough to know my biological clock was running out, as my Mum put it. But I hadn’t even tried to get to know someone else. There was no point; if it wasn’t Simon, I didn’t want it. Not even so much because I missed him - although I did, painfully so - but just because I don’t have the strength to risk it again. It wasn’t that sad. I’d come to reason with the fact that I would never love again a long time ago.
“Are you going to talk to him?”
“Freya, I think we should sit down, the speech is about to start.” Josh suggested, trying to almost steer his pregnant wife away as he shot me sympathetic eyes. I gave him back a small smile.
“Wait, okay I’m sorry,” Freya blurted out and as she turned to me I found it increasingly hard to look her in the eye. “Please don’t run again Y/n.”
“Please. Just please stay for the speeches.” Her cheeks reddened a little, her voice cracking against her will. “I’ve missed you a lot.”
I didn’t speak for fear of breaking apart in front of her, only nodding a small confirmation before someone came to take her away. I returned to my table as the sound of a glass being tapped sounded through the hall.
The speeches were nice. They were somewhat repetitive - a little cliche, but nice nonetheless. Tobi’s had been my favourite so far, a confession of his own fondness towards the two, how he’d been rooting for the couple since before they were even rooting for themselves. Freya was positively glowing as several different people complimented and admired her. Eventually it looked as if it were all about to be over, and I silently counted my blessings as people began to talk amongst themselves. Perhaps if I excused myself subtly I could get out. I’d text Freya a goodbye, she’d forgive me. She’d understand why I’d run. It was all I knew how to do.
Just as I thought it was over, Josh stood.
“Wait, sorry everyone, there’s one last speech. He’ll be here in a minute, please entertain yourselves or grab a free drink from the bar whilst you wait.”
I smiled at his professionalism even on his own wedding day. Josh never let the dad figure slip. I couldn’t get over the fact that he really would be a Dad now. I don’t know why I found it surprising - that’s what happy relationships progress too. Marriage and children and eternity. I guess a little part of me just felt jealous that neither of them would ever have to experience what it felt like to be alone.
“There he is!” A voice from the head table shouted, and everyone’s heads turned. There he was indeed.
Stood on the stage, his slender fingers wrapped around a microphone, his face supporting a large, awkward but sweet smile was Simon. I felt my heart fall from my chest. He had aged incredibly, his skin matured and clear, his hair an unnatural white that only he could pull off so well in a dark, classic suit. He looked taller, more muscular, more confident even. He looked more himself. I guess only one of us had healed after that winter night five years ago, and it hadn’t been me. I looked down at my ring finger. Sometimes it felt like the tanline was still there, a slightly paler band just above where my knuckle is, as if my entire hand is taunting me. Seeing Simon up on that stage felt somewhat like a mockery. We had come so close, and a tiny part of me couldn’t help but wish that it was me sitting where Freya was. I shook off this thought as Simon began to speak.
He introduced himself well, really presenting the skills that his job had taught him over the years, if that was indeed still his job. I couldn’t remember the last time I had opened up youtube, or any social media for the matter. Even this invitation had been something I’d received in the post. I’d really tried to remove myself entirely. To remove him. The room fell entirely silent as his real speech began, all the Simon-esque jokes and taunting over and done with.
“Look, in all realness,” he spoke in his deep and endearing voice, sending soundwaves right through my chest. “No one needs me to stand here and say the obvious. I don’t need to tell you how good you look together, or how incredible the ceremony was, because you know that already. Josh, you don’t need me to tell you how much you’re punching with Freya because, well, you must know it.”
The crowd laughed as Josh rolled his eyes, probably stopping himself from acting a little less professionally. Simon blew him a kiss before continuing.
“The only thing I wanna say is good luck. And I genuinely mean that.” Josh watched with genuine intrigue, however Freya’s eyes seemed to be elsewhere, as if she were searching through the crowd. “You two together have a love that is so comfortable and homely, whilst also being so firey and spontaneous, and it really does keep the world spinning. It’s the type of love a man only gets once in his lifetime.”
The crowd cooed slightly as Simon momentarily looked at the floor, and I wondered if they were as in love with him in this moment as I was.
“A love where you’re so content and happy with eachother as you are really does only come around once, and you two have already got it and secured it. And I hope you secure it forever. Because God knows once you let go, it never comes back to you.”
He forced a smile. “Bitter sweet, as they call it.”
Freya was still searching with hunting eyes and I got the feeling I was the prey. As Simon raised his glass my vision blurred, and I knew I had to go. The guilt swept over me faster than my own feet off the ground but there was no way I could stay without choking up the only pieces of my heart I had left all over the maroon tablecloth.
I didn’t plan my exit route, only weaving my way through the tables somewhat frantically, trying to stick to the dark corners of the room. Once I found a back door I ran for it. It wasn’t practical. But I needed the time alone.
Once I was out of sight I pressed my back to the brickwall and let myself fall apart. The tears fell like cascades down my face, loud, messy sobs as I struggled to catch my breath. The knowledge that I would have to go back in in this state to be able to leave only made me cry harder as I questioned why I had even put myself through this mess in the first place. Maybe this is what I was destined for. A life of avoidance and hurt. Because it had been five years, and so far I had learned, the hurt never really seems to go away.
It felt like my soul leaving my body once I heard him say my name. My eyes shot open, breathing speeding up once more as I realised he was close. Suddenly I heard him turn the corner. It was too late to run this time.
“Oh my God, Y/n.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping if I did so for long enough he would just disappear. He’d leave me behind again. But he didn’t. His tone was hard to read, and I could feel even without looking at him that he would be running his hands through his hair right now, jittering his legs out of nerves. He edged closer towards me and I screamed.
“Y/n, please. Please don’t push me away. I’m not here to hurt you.”
Oh but you do that without meaning to Simon, I thought, but I remained silent. There’s no way he couldn’t hurt me. His presence here was hurting me. His presence in my memory had been hurting me every day for the past five years. But nonetheless, I steadied my breathing, focusing on the pavement in front of me.
“It’s all in your breathing. Focus on that. Remember what your doctor used to say, the breathing exercises.”
His voice was laced with concern, but was still quiet, as if he was afraid I would crack should he be too loud, like a glass window in a gospel choir. I only nodded. Soon enough my breathing slowed.
“Y/n please let me talk to you. Please don’t run away again.”
The words, although maybe not intended to be, came out as more of a question than a demand and I opened my eyes once again, allowing myself the small tester sight of him in my peripheral vision.
“Okay,” my broken voice sounded in a short whisper.
“I miss you, Y/n.”
“Don’t,” I warned, but he continued.
“No, listen to me Y/n, please. Please, for once, just let me in. Don’t leave me out in the dark again, I can’t take it.”
“So talk,” I almost urged, not wanting to hear him beg anymore, the guilt weighing me down until I was being curb stomped by my own conscience.
“Maybe you should talk? It looks like you have some stuff on your mind. I get the feeling you don’t talk to anyone else so, maybe you should be the one talking.”
He sighed when I stayed quiet, but it wasn’t a sigh of defeat. I suddenly felt a warmth towards him for the way he didn’t lose hope in me. He saw my demons, looked them straight in the eye, but he didn’t run from them. I owed him that.
“There must be something, Y/n. Something you want to say, something you want to know. It’s been five years.”
It sounded even worse coming from his mouth. I still didn’t look at him, staring at my shoes.
“How many people have you been with since?” I whispered, afraid of the answer and unsure why I was even asking. He stepped a little closer, carefully.
“A big fat total of zero.”
The answer surprised me more than what I let on.
“I’m serious,” he confirmed. “There was a stage where Josh tried to set me up with people, taking me out on double dates with him and Freya, but it never went anywhere. Not even a kiss. The other guys always mock me for it.”
I felt him look down at his shoes. I resented Josh and Freya for trying, but I didn’t blame them. He deserved to be happy. Even if it wasn’t with me.
“You?” He asked hesitantly, and I almost laughed at the thought.
“No one at all?” There was shock present in his voice. Did he really think I was capable of choosing anyone other than him? I shook my head to clarify.
Finally I pluck up the courage to look at him. His aqua blue eyes poured into mine, melting me under their gaze and somehow I managed to voice what was on my mind.
“It’s only you, Simon.”
It almost looked as if the words knocked him, but he composed himself pretty fast. The way he watched me, it was as if he was afraid I’d disappear should he let me out of his eyesight for even a minute.
“Y/n why are we dragging this out? We belong together, you know it, I know it, everybody knows it. Why are we prolonging this pain?”
I shook my head, tears threatening to fall for what felt like the thousandth time tonight.
“We didn’t work before Simon, what makes you think we can now? I can’t go through that again.”
He edged closer again. “Because we know now what it’s like to be without eachother. Now that you’re here in front of me, I don’t ever want to let you go again. I’d never do anything to compromise us again, Y/n.”
“There are so many other people,”
“And I choose you.” He cut me off with desperation. “Even after everything. I still choose you. No one else is even an option.”
Admittedly, I had given in. I was terrified. But I knew I didn’t want to be without him. Now that I’d learned what it was like to live with him, I didn’t want to learn to live without, because God knows after five years I still hadn’t accustomed to it. I knew it could be my biggest risk. But it could also be my only chance at healing.
“I choose you too,” I murmured. Simon moved closer once again, like he was unsure he had heard me right.
“Can I kiss you?” He asked cautiously. I nodded. Before I knew it, his hand was on the side of my face, holding me in place gently. His lips moved against mine so slowly and I drank in every second. This was what I had been waiting for. This was what I’d needed to fix me.
“I love you, Y/n,” he spoke into the kiss, and I wrapped my arms around his neck. My hands moved through his hair.
“I love you. Always.”