Starhill || A Short Story


"I love you, silly girl." You saying those words for the first time are so vivid to me that it seems like only yesterday. We were sitting right here, on this hill that we claimed as our own. You named it Starhill when you had accidentally stumbled across this spot during a hike with friends. You chose the name as you could practically count the galaxy when laying on the grass. We'd look up for hours on end, getting lost in the immensity of it. But now as I gaze up at the beauty that is the night sky, mist appears to cover the bewitchment of the stars from my vision. There are a rare few bright dots that make it through refusing to dim, but they still remain blurred. I wonder whether the brightness of them had always been this weak, and I had simply failed to notice before due to your presence at my side. Everything had seemed brighter with you.

Thunder cracks. Rain begins to drizzle, causing my clothes to stick to me like a second skin. I rejoice at the shiver it sends down my spine. A feeling. Uncomfortable, bitter. My fingers grow numb. Good or bad, this place was alive with sensations. It always had been. I blink back against the water that lands on my colourless face, and then I realise.. the stars weren't blurred from the misty clouds. I was crying.

You had brought me here on our second outing as friends. I was taken back by the beauty that blanketed us. I had asked why we wasted our time hanging out at my place if you had this type of location to offer, and you had laughed. "I don't bring anyone here." My eyes involuntarily rolled in your direction, my smile refusing to waver. We had been like this for the few days we had known each other. Flirtation, banter, yet.. tenderness. I had never met anyone like you. You were this rarity of a friend and I had never been more at ease around someone. We shared a kiss the night before that outing, but neither one of us had mentioned it since. I had asked you to stay with me in a hushed whisper, my lips still caressing yours with every word said. I couldn't find the strength to pull back. You had agreed. We proceeded to climb into my hand-me-down single bed with the floral sheets. Your warm breath tickled the top of my head, and our limbs automatically entwined to get comfortable in the small amount of space we shared. I'd drooled a little on your chest and you had woken me at 03:17am snoring. You also had a tendency to kick the sheets off your caramel skinned body, but I had yet to learn that. It was perfectly imperfect.

"I bet you say that to all the girls." I had teased you, arms lifting at my sides as I twirled on the spot. My chiffon lilac dress fanning around me. I danced a lot back then, it was my freedom. You later became my freedom. You caught me before I had time for a second spin, those hands that would one day save lives as a paramedic wrapping around my slender waist, the same waist that you would later trail kisses down as I cried about my hatred toward my body to you. My blue hues caught yours, falling into those depths that resembled the colour of espresso. They were pools of warmth, indescribable warmth. "As a matter of fact, no, I haven't brought anybody here. And this wasn't planned. But when I woke up this morning, half choking on your hair mind." You wrapped a lock of my auburn hair between your fingers as if to emphasis your point, and chuckled. "Hair that smells of blueberries but does not taste of them. Rather disappointing. I digress."

"I do that a lot." I blurted out.


I nod, nails biting into my palms not yet sure whether I could rest them on your chest. "Digress. Babble. Yes. I always have done, since I was very small. My father used to say that I had a tendency to do it when I was beyond happy or nervous. Could've been worse, I knew children who threw up when nervous, or, at least in the school plays and dance recitals. Luckily I was just the annoying loon who couldn't keep her trap shut due to nerves. Or happiness. Probably nerves."

You smirked, lower lip rolling inward as your tongue caressed it. The action created a crate of butterflies to be released in my stomach. "Which is it now? Nerves or happiness?" A crease formed between my brows and pulled them in as if they were on strings, confusion clouding over me for the few seconds it took me to realise what you meant. I had babbled. My first babble to you. You'd later tell me that this moment was when you fell for me. My lips formed into an 'O' shape, unable to find the right words to mask my embarrassment. You laughed and right then, mid laugh, that's when we shared our first proper kiss.

Twelve days later, I officially became your girl.

August 14th. It was a Saturday. We had been together for three months. You'd been living with me for a few weeks, and we clicked perfectly. Our routines moulded around each other, and there was no effort required. We adjusted to our new life together as if it were a single dance move, we perfected it after a handful of tries. I hadn't slept again the previous night due to all those problems that plagued me back then. - I can't imagine the day that I will ever not regret putting you through that. I'm so incredibly sorry, sweetheart. I will apologise to my grave. No man should carry that amount of worry with him, I can't help but wonder whether that was partly why we lost. 

You had asked me if I would like to visit Starhill as you had a day off, that of which would become a rarity for us in a matter of years. I had eagerly agreed and a 42 minute car ride later, we found ourselves on a chequered blanket laying right where I am now. The surprise picnic you had hidden in the trunk before we arrived was spread out between us, and we took turns warming our hands with the thermos filled with hot coffee, which we then drank out of paper cups that you had "borrowed” from the hospital cafeteria. 'Can you envision a future with me?' you abruptly asked, causing my head to turn in your direction. I was about to taunt you for being so silly, but that look in your eyes told me that you were being serious.

"That shouldn't be the question. I'm sadly not talented in the arts of knowing the future. But can I envision a future without you? No. And that equally thrills and terrifies me."

"I'm not going to leave you." You suddenly said. Voicing it so simply, as if you were saying that you were going to get pineapple on your pizza. Or that you prefer Coke over Pepsi. No hesitation, just a statement.

"You can't know that." I argued. Always the debater.

"No, but I know what's in my heart and I couldn't go a day without knowing you. Without knowing how you were. It would drive me insane." You shook your head as if the thought was too troubling to even think about.

"You have work." Some days, even back then, I wouldn't see you due to your obligations at the hospital. You often found it easier to sleep there as the 2 hour commute was exhausting you. I always understood, but it was tough. I often questioned whether you had enough time to juggle both your training and us. You told me that we would always come first, as a man is nothing without love. But still, I wondered if your life would be simpler if you didn't have to factor me in.
"I'll always find time for us." you said, mirroring my thoughts.
"Distance will come between us." I, again, argued. But you so easily dismissed it.

"It won't be easy. But just the thought of knowing I might be with you tomorrow, is enough to get me through any day without you."

"You're a cup half full type of guy. I can't do that." I sighed, pushing myself upwards. You followed suit.

"I'll teach you."

"I'm a terrible student."

"Silly." You sighed, budging onto your knees and bringing me up to mirror your position. I was looking down at our now entwined hands, unable to meet your eyes. Knowing you would see the amount of fear behind my own. "Look at me." you softly asked. "Please." 

 I begrudgingly did, my throat bobbing in the process. "I love you. Nothing more, nothing less. I love you."

"I love you too." How I wish my voice hadn't cracked saying that. Whereas you, well, you smiled so brightly I thought the sky would turn a darker shade in comparison. Even your voice seemed to echo your happiness. "Thank you, silly. Now please do me the honour of standing up." I blinked once, twice, a third time. "Huh?" Confusion wound around my insides like a ribbon. You emitted a chuckle and led me onto my feet using our hands as leverage. "Don't fret, I just have something I need to do." I held my breath as you knelt down on one knee. Your left knee, to be precise. Not that it matters, but I remember thinking 'why not the right?'. It's strange what our brain does to us in a moment of shock. 

"Sweetheart, from this moment forth, I promise to love you and protect you every single day. For the length of our forever. I promise to always be at your side, through happiness and sadness, passing no judgement. Only love. Will you do me the honour of marrying me?" Tears flew down my cheeks at lightening speed, all while my lips broke into the kind of smile that I often wonder whether I will ever be able to recreate. "Yes. Yes!"

Even now my throat bobs at the memory. My palms sink into the damp grass as I lean back and greedily gulp down the cool air to push down the bile that's risen in my throat. The silence is eerie, darkness casting shadows over everything that was once a beckon of love for us. Our place - where we fell for each other over the course of those many sleepless nights. A lack of sleep became second nature to me during our relationship, I became codependent on your company at nightfall. A truly terrible thing. By the time you were home and half asleep, I had unintentionally woken myself up. You could always sleep without me.

Our last night on this hill was the very same night that the credits began to roll on our story.

We'd been at Starhill for roughly an hour. It had been my idea to come, and I hated that you were reluctant. You used to jump at the chance, yet now it seemed like an inconvenience. You had been working away from home for the past few days and this was your first night back. I immediately felt bad and retracted my suggestion, instead saying we could stay at home and relax, but that only seemed to fuel your frustration. It had been like this for months. We would stay at home falling into our usual routine, and you'd seem disheartened by the familiarity of it all. Yet when I'd suggest change, you'd deem it a nuisance given your schedule. I didn't know what you wanted, and I, myself, had grown tired of asking you. It seemed you didn't even know what you wanted. But I knew what I wanted – you. So we sat there at our spot, exchanging small talk, showing vague signs of emotion, sharing quiet laughter. The new us. The wrong us.

Then you did the unthinkable, you asked me how I was. You see, my love, I had spent the entirety of the precious days, the days you hadn't called, crying over what we had become. Loneliness acting like rust on my insides, spreading within minutes. It was eating me alive. All I had wanted was a few minutes with you. Your words. Yet, as you sat there beside me and asked the question that I had longed to hear from you, I realised that I didn't want to tell you. Not out of secrecy, but because I knew you didn't care. You weren't asking because you wanted the answer, you were asking out of habit. You know how I knew such a thing? I didn't answer, and you didn't notice.

To this day I don't know whether I intended to say the following words to you, or if it was merely a thought that got accidentally voiced. "Maybe we need a break."

It was out there, and it felt like a bolder had been lifted off of my chest, only to be thrown back on.

I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't for you to simply look at me. Not saying a single word. You didn't look angry, sad, or even surprised. You just looked at the woman, me, who you had once claimed to be your soulmate. I continued talking to fill the silence, pouring out my heart to you for the second time on this hill. "I don't think you miss me any more, which is inevitable. We've been together for 5 years and we've been incredible. But for a couple to move forward at all, both parties have to try and show some effort. I understand that you're busy, and I'm so proud of you for all the good you have done. I love you beyond words. I was willing to wait for you, and I still am. But I can't live my life always waiting for the phone to ring, to make me feel not alone. It isn't fair on either of us. You are able to offer us more, but you refuse to. Perhaps you need time away, or time to think.. To decide what it is you want from us. I just feel like I've already lost you and I don't know why."

"I'm sorry. I don't know for what exactly, but I just seem to always let you down. I care about you, a lot. And I love you.. I do. But I can't make promises. I don't know if we can make this work with the distance, and I don't know if we can make this a constant reality. I've made you wait for over 5 years. It bothers me. All this time, you could've been with someone who could hold you whenever they liked. Protected you in the way that you need. You could be in a relationship that isn't built up of texts and missed phone calls." you tugged harshly on your hair, in that way you always did when stressed. My hand itched to reach out and stop you, but my arm felt like led at my side. I had no control. "Maybe we need time. You need time. I need time."

I could hear my heart in my ears as you stood, towering over me. My chest felt tight and the world appeared to become hazy in front of my eyes. You lent down and pressed those lips I loved against the crown of my head, a tender kiss that I still felt lingering there days later. Your tone was barely above a whisper and I strained to hear it. "I'm sorry, silly. I love you, always will."

Maybe I should of stood and demanded to be heard. Maybe I ought to of pleaded with you to stay. Maybe I should've let the tears fall. But I did nothing. I just sat there. I sat there and watched as you left. The part that broke my heart was that you didn't stop to look back. Why would you? You were doing as I had suggested. You were walking away for me.

Your stuff was gone when I got home.

I called the following day but you didn't pick up. So I sent you a text that consisted of two words: 'I'm sorry.' You were always a gentleman, and even during a time like that you replied. Rather ironic seen as you never found the time to reply when I'd say I missed you, but you had time to say goodbye. I took the 42 minute trip to read it here, at our spot. I was always a creature of habit. I wouldn't open the little numbered envelope on my phone until I was sat on this sodding hill. I must have read the text ten times over; 'I'm sorry for disappearing on you. I need time. You were right. I need to think about everything. I hope you're well and please take care. I'm thinking about you. Always.'

Hours pass, my paled body is shivering and the rain has picked up, but I have absolutely no idea how to leave. I promised myself one more trip. One more evening spent here. But as I look around at what holds large amounts of our history, I find myself frozen. How can a human let go of something that was once their safe haven? How did you?

I stare down at my phone and at your message, my numb thumb very slowly tapping that empty white box to type. Then I do exactly that.. I type. I type what I know will be my final words to you.

'I'm at our place in the world, and it doesn't shine as brightly without you. Not surprisingly. I hope you're doing well.. I'm not going to know where your life will lead, I came to that conclusion today. I won't know if you meet someone, if you have children, where your career will lead, whether you'll ever get that suit dry cleaned that I kept nagging you about. It's strange. It's like half of me is still lost in this fucked up thing we call a world, and I don't know what happened to me. I would wish for the ability to turn back the clock and fix whatever it was that broke us, but in all honesty.. I still don’t know what moment defined our end. Maybe it was me, maybe it was you. I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care any more. You want to know something funny? You are continuing to be the one I long for in most circumstances. Even the insignificant little ones. Not because I loved you so tremendously, but because you were the only one I had. You were my friend. Silence solves nothing. This isn't a break, is it? It's our end.'

I stare down at my screen, and don't send the message - the same message that I've written a hundred times before. Instead I switch off my phone, get up, and look at the view before my eyes one last time. My eyes are dry and scratchy from crying. I'm soaked through to my bones. My breathing is still unsteady, and my nails are filthy from digging into the flesh of the ground. But I'm standing on my own. And a second later, I turn my back and walk away from it all.

Starhill. The place we fell together. And eventually, the place we fell apart. 

- Anne x

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