Grace surrounds herself with people similar to her, or maybe she just gravitates towards people she sees herself in.
Meeting her best friend Ari for the first time when I was first in New York was interesting. They had met through the law firm Grace used to work at, so when I came to pick Grace up from the firm one night, Ari made it apparent that she carried strong opinions. Even though there were times Ari would say something that made Grace instantly react in a bad way, Ari would always have her back, just like a best friend would. Ari saw Grace the way I see Shawn and Kevin: they are my closest friends through thick and thin.
So, when Ari told me it was best if I let Grace go after she left New York in January, I thought that would be the worst feeling I would ever experience. I was wrong.
“What are you doing here?” Skylar quickly walked toward me and said in a hushed tone.
“I’m sorry if Shawn hurt you in any way, Skylar,” I immediately started to try to defend my friend; the one whose heart is back home in pieces because he had to break up with someone he truly loved. I understand. “It’s not his fault that things had to be this way.”
“I don’t give a shit about that,” Skylar said bluntly. It took me by surprise. “What are you even doing here?” I was confused as in why all of a sudden, Skylar was mad at me or concerned I was even there in the first place. What did Grace tell her? What happened when Grace went home the last time we spoke?
“I made a commitment to Grace,” I finally answered her question. “I told her I was going to be here for her showcase–“
“You know, you being here will just be triggering to her,” Skylar interrupted me to say. I scrunched my eyebrows together; what the hell is that suppose to mean? “And the last thing she needs is to have her night ruined because of you.”
“I don’t know what Grace told you,” I began, but I immediately stopped. What point was I trying to make this time? What could I have possibly done to make Grace tell Skylar I was the bad guy? Why do I even care; she’s not mine to care about.
“It’s not about what Grace has told me,” Skylar cut me off before I could even start up my sentence again. “It’s about everything that has happened that has affected her. She literally left New York to get away from you, yet here you are now bringing all that old energy shit back into her life.” I didn’t understand where this was coming from at this point. It was only just a month and a half ago when she called the number I left for Grace. She was dating one of my best friends. What changed? What made Skylar say these things all of a sudden?
“If you cared about her, you would let her go,” Ari told me that night in her apartment, moments after I found out that Grace left New York. When I was walking out, that’s when Ari finally spoke again. “Grace was happy with you, Jamie.”
I turned around to look at Ari one last time before I left the apartment.
“But it’s the things that make her happy that are her biggest downfall,” she continued.
“Grace was amazing,” I randomly said. Skylar didn’t say anything in response. “She was definitely born to dance.”
I walked out of the ballroom hallway and didn’t turn back. I was mentally exhausted. I was tired of thinking and worrying about Grace. I’ve done nothing but do just that for the last couple of years. Maybe Ari was right about Grace and me when Grace left New York. Maybe this thing between us; whatever this was between us, was dying out. Maybe I was holding onto something that was just hurting us even more in the end. Maybe the pressure to hold on was what was causing the pain. Maybe releasing it all, to finally let it all go, is the only way we can both heal. I have to let Grace go for good.
It scares me that this time, it doesn’t hurt when I say that. It actually feels relieving. Because it’s something coincidental; two people in Grace’s life that probably never even met each other before share the same idea about Grace and me. We are not good for each other. Maybe I should’ve listened to Ari. To Kevin. To Shawn. I shouldn’t have listened to myself.
I entered the front door of the place I was staying at. I saw luggage bags already sitting near the door; they looked like Kevin’s. I shut my eyes tight. I couldn’t believe that we were leaving to go back to Korea in less than 48 hours. Every time I had to go back, it felt like I was leaving a part of me back here. I was tired of feeling that way.
I walked up the stairs and entered my bedroom. I looked around the room that I stayed in fro the last month and a half. The room I would come in after being out at the pier with Shawn and Kevin. The room that the guys would barge in to wake me up on mornings that I left my alarm going off. The room where I would pick up Grace’s calls, and go through the closet where my clothes were trying to find something appropriate to wear. The room I fell asleep in whenever I texted Grace “good night” when she would stop responding. It felt surreal to know that all those memories will be left behind in this room.
Everything about Grace will be left behind here.
I look at my wrist and see the bracelet that Grace gifted me.
“I know I didn’t need to give you anything for Christmas, but I wanted to,” Grace said as she handed me a small, wrapped box with a bow on top. I look at Grace before accepting the gift.
“Where did you find the time to even get a present?” I asked, smiling down at the gift. “You know, you are working nonstop on a case.” Grace laughed and clapped her hands together. Her laugh was warm on this cold, winter day.
“I wanted to get you a little something because you said this was the first holiday you were away from home,” Grace explained. “So, I figured I could still bring some holiday joy and cheer to you.” I looked at Grace, being in awe. Christmas wasn’t for another two weeks, yet she felt the need to get me a present and bring some of the holiday spirit in my rented apartment, in the middle of a foreign city thousands of miles away from home. I felt warm. Cozy. Cared about; just how a home should feel like.
I opened the small box and saw what was inside. “Grace,” I began to say. I lifted the dainty, silver bracelet from the box with my hand. It was simple; nothing too flashy. It had one small charm on the end of it; a key.
I lifted the dainty, silver bracelet on my wrist. The key dangled as I lifted my wrist up in the air. I slip the bracelt off of my wrist and put it in the draw of the night stand. Out of sight. Out of mind. Out of my life.