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When Alexis left me, I was devastated. She told me, through tear-filled eyes and despondent sobs, that she just couldn’t stay with me any longer. She explained that even though she loved me, and she insisted many times that she did, in fact, love me, that it would be better for both of us if she left. I didn’t go in to work after that. My boss called two days later and, when I couldn’t give her a good excuse for missing work, she fired me. Couldn’t really blame her, though. I lived off my meager savings after that, not motivated enough to do anything about my rapidly dwindling finances. Alexis had been my world.

No longer a slave to the responsibilities of a job (not that I would have gone if I still had one), I spent most of those days cloistered within my paltry apartment doing little more than moping around in the dark. If I wasn’t shunning the world, I was up on the roof of the apartment complex. As part of the agreement for renting out the cheaper top-floor apartment, which was significantly smaller than any of the others due to the presence of a maintenance room on this floor, I’m granted unfettered access to the roof of the building. Up here I carefully tend a small garden of raised planter boxes to which I have just recently added a fourth. This was my only means of mental escape after Alexis left. Up here on my roof I can forget all about my troubles and the world down below and simply focus on my plants. At least they can’t leave me. Ha!

It had been nearly three months since Alexis had left me when I saw her again. From my garden sanctuary I had a commanding view of several city blocks in any direction and it was from this vantage point that I caught sight of that unmistakable golden blonde hair entering a bookstore just a few blocks away.  I tortured myself like this for a few days, watching my lost love move on with her life. Like the ill-fated Tantalus, would I be endlessly taunted by the object of my desire only to have it be forever out of my reach?

Based on all of her trips to and from the bookstore, I knew she must have gotten a job there. She was so close to me. Surely she knew I would find out. She must have known. For days and days I agonized over what to do. Should I casually visit the store? Act as if it was a just coincidence that I should run into her there? Eventually I decided that it was either that or spend the rest of my life wondering what could have been.

I finally worked up the nerve about a week later. I had to laugh at myself when I realized that I was dressing up to go out. No one wears a tie to the bookstore! My whole cover would have been blown. I could just see that playing out, ‘Oh hi, Alexis! I just happened to wander into this bookstore that you just happen to work at while wearing my nicest suit!’ I threw on a t-shirt and headed down the stairs. I circled the store’s block a few times before I eventually went in, I had to remind myself to keep it casual. It had to seem authentic.

Once I finally convinced myself to go inside, I made a bee-line to back of the store. She was working the register and I didn’t want her to see my right away. No one goes to the register first, I reasoned. After browsing random books for about twenty minutes, I picked out a few that I was actually interested in buying. As I waited behind the customers ahead of me in line, I tried to look everywhere but at Alexis. Finally it was my turn.

I fumed for the entire walk back to my apartment. It was like she hadn’t even recognized me! She barely spoke to me at all! After all we had been through she couldn’t even spare me the slightest “How have you been?” or anything! I was just another customer to her. I didn’t leave my apartment at all for the next several days. I just couldn’t understand how she could do that to me. I really thought I had meant something to her. I mean, she had been my world for the time we were together. I did everything for her. And she wouldn’t even look at me!

I went to the bookstore only once more after that. I didn’t get down there until nearly closing, but things actually went much better that time. Without other customers around I finally had a chance to really talk to her. To really make her look at me. We cried, we laughed, we talked about better times, and eventually we both ended up back at my apartment. That night, and the next few that followed, were some of the happiest I can remember. I had missed her so much and I could tell she had missed me, too. But it just couldn’t last. Could it, Alexis? You just had to leave me again. You just had to break my heart, just like you do every time. Why couldn’t she just be happy with me? What am I not giving you? You had everything you needed right here with me. And so she left. She left me just like all the times before.

And so here I am again. Up here with my little garden on the roof. All by myself. I think you’d like the new planter box I made, Alexis, I added it just for you. I’m up to five now. Maybe next time will be better. I know she’d like it if she could see it. I just know you would, Alexis.

Oh, wait.

I think that’s her going into that new coffee shop down the street. I’d know that gorgeous black hair anywhere. Maybe tomorrow I’ll drop by to see her. I’ll have to play it casual, though.