Broken Juliet

By: Leisa Rayven

ONE

BEAUTIFUL REPAIR

Present Day

New York City, New York

The Apartment of Cassandra Taylor


In Japan, they have something called Kintsugi—the art of repairing precious pottery with gold. The result is a piece that has obviously been broken, but is more beautiful for it.

It’s a concept that has always fascinated me.

So often, people try to hide their scars. As if the slightest damage proves how weak they are. They equate scars with mistakes, and those mistakes with shame. Perfection forever marred.

Kintsugi does the opposite. It says, “There is beauty born from tragedy. Look at these precious fault lines of experience.”

As I stand in my hallway, staring at the front door that reverberates with my former lover’s knocks, it occurs to me that even though Kintsugi is a noble concept, it doesn’t change the truth that once something is broken, it can never be anything else. Beautiful repair, no matter how elegant, doesn’t make it whole again. It’s still just a collection of pieces impersonating its former shape.

Judging from his soul-baring e-mail this morning, which included an epic declaration of love, I believe Ethan wants to repair me. Ironic, considering he was the one who broke me in the first place.

I know you think I left because I didn’t love you, but you’re wrong. I’ve always loved you, from the moment I first laid eyes on you.

I’d spent so long believing I got what I deserved when people left me, that I didn’t stop to think I got what I deserved when I met you. I couldn’t comprehend that if I stopped being an enormous insecure jackass for five minutes, that maybe … just maybe … I could keep you.

I want to keep you, Cassie.

You need me as much as I need you. We’re both hollow without the other, and it’s taken me a long time to realize that.

There’s the knocking again, this time louder. I know I have to answer it.

He’s right. I am hollow without him. I always have been. But what do I have to offer other than a shell of the woman he fell in love with?

Don’t be as stupid as I was and let the insecurities win. Let us win. Because I know you think loving me again is a crapshoot and that your odds are grim, but let me tell you something: I’m a sure thing. I couldn’t stop loving you if I tried.

It’s possible for him to love me and still leave me. He’s proven that time and again.

Am I still terrified of you hurting me? Of course. Probably the same way you’re terrified I’ll hurt you.

But I’m brave enough to know it’s absolutely worth the risk.

Let me help you be brave.

Brave is a word I haven’t used to describe myself for a long time.

My phone buzzes with a message.

<Hey. I’m at your door. You in there?>

Excitement and fear crawl up my spine, racing to see which one can paralyze my brain first.

When I’d finished reading his e-mail, I needed to see him. But now that he’s here, I have no idea what to do.

As I walk down the hallway, I feel like I’m dreaming. Like the past three years have been a nightmare and I’m about to wake up. Everything feels slow. Important.

When I reach the door, I tighten my robe and exhale in an effort to calm my nerves. Then, with a shaky hand, I pull it open.

I make myself breathe as the door swings open to reveal Ethan, phone in hand. So handsome but tired. Nervous. Looking almost as nervous as I feel.

“Hey.” He says it softly. Like he’s afraid I’m going to chase him away.

“You’re here.”

“Yeah.”

“How? I mean, I just texted you. Were you already here?”

“Uh … yeah. I’ve … well, I’ve been here for a while. After I e-mailed you, I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t stop thinking about things. You.” He looks down at the phone and shoves it in his pocket. “I wanted to be near you, just in case you…” He smiles and shakes his head. “I wanted to be here. Close.”

His jacket is on the ground, crumpled next to a cardboard coffee cup.

“Ethan, how long have you been out here?”

“I told you, a whi—”

“How long, exactly?”

His small smile masks something deeper. Something desperate.

“A few hours, but in a way…” He looks at his feet and shakes his head again. “I kind of feel like I’ve been waiting out here for three years, just trying to find the courage to knock on the door. I guess that e-mail was my way of doing it.”

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