The hardest part is that I had to let him go. As my train pulls away, I turn to watch him watch me leave. But he’s already gone. Last night was our last night together. I told him I had to go follow my dream. He said he couldn’t leave town. That’s what happens when you meet “the one” too early.

My eyes are dry as I pull my portfolio from my bag. I flip through the sketches. None of them are of him. They’re all strangers. It’s easier that way.

My interview with an art gallery in the next town over is in three hours, but my heart beats lethargically. Outside, the sun is cold. Inside, the lights are dim. I close my eyes, but his face burns in the dark. Pulling my sketchpad from my bag, I flip to a clean sheet and start working on his jawline.

Something is wrong. Every detail is perfect, from his stubble to his arching eyebrows, but it feels flat. Lead and paper can’t capture him, never could. Flipping the page, I start over. But now his lips are wrong, too thin. Then too thick. I start again and again until my hand smudges his face. The harder I try, the more he looks like a stranger.

When I reach the station, tears blot my portfolio. A year’s worth of sketches are ruined. I exit the train and buy two tickets, telling myself I’ll board whichever comes first. The trains arrive at the same time. Without looking at the platform numbers, I board the one on the left and accept my fate.

Fiction

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