With your suitcase in one hand, and your hand luggage slung over the other shoulder, it all looked so real, so final. Eventually, I plucked up the courage, forced myself to catch my breath and say those words I really needed to say.
"Liam. Don't go."
You stared at me blankly for a few moments, obviously expecting me to say something else. Something, I don't know, more, maybe. Finally, you spoke.
"You know I can't do that babe."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Anger rose up from a deep cavity in my chest and seem to rest grudgingly and uncomfortably in my throat. Ready to leap out like a mutant if agitated further. Why was I angry? I knew what was happening. I knew it was just something he had to do, so why was I getting so angry, so upset, so fucking infuriated at the fact he wouldn't give up an opportunity like this, for my sake. For me, for us. Did I really think he'd do that? Was I really that stupid? I shook my head a little too vigorously, not realising I'd actually physically moved. I contemplated how naive I seemed to have become over the last few months. I was on auto-pilot. Everything seemed to be happening without my say-so. It was like I was watching my life unfold from one of those mirrored windows; I was looking out but no one could see in. I was invisible, even to my true self.
"Why can't you do this for me?" I blurted out.
There was that blank stare again. You blinked too obviously. My heart seemed to plummet and at the same time, rise and bounce off my rib cage. I inhaled sharply. You let go of the handle of your suitcase, and put down your hand luggage. Taking both of my hands in yours, all the while you looked longingly into my eyes.
"Han, you know if I could have it any other way, I would, don't you?"
I nodded, biting back tears. I was acting like a spoiled brat who wasn't getting her own way. But I composed myself, a bit. I couldn't make a scene. Not here. Not with all of these people around me. Not now. He'd never forgive me.
"I...I suppose so."
"You've got to understand. This is a big deal for me."
"What?" I snapped. "A big deal for you? You haven't got a clue, have you? It's a fucking huge deal for me too, Liam! But you never considered how it would affect me, did you?! You're being so selfish!"
You just stared again. I was getting more and more infuriated.
"So Liam, what about me? What about us? Where do I fit in this little arrangement of yours? Oh wait, yes, I forgot. I DON'T!" I spat viciously, totally unaware of the bitter looks I was receiving from the people close by, trying to check-in with as little hassle as possible, and here was me, causing a scene, having a total hissy fit, and being "terribly inconsiderate" I believe one woman said.
The blank look faded from your face to be replaced by an upset one. I received a kind of morbid satisfaction in seeing you shed a tear at my bitter words. At least it showed you cared on some level.
"Hannah, I do understand. More than you'll ever know."
"Don't patronize me. If you understood, you wouldn't be doing this."
"Jesus Christ" What do you want from me, Hannah?"
"I want you to stay."
"You heard me. I want you to stay, here...with me."
"Why can't you?"
"It's just..It's not that simple."
"Well, make it simple."
"You're the one making things difficult here Han, not me."
"Oh for fuck sake Liam, stop it. Please!"
"Stop with the pseudo-sympathetic bullshit you seem to be spewing out all over" Stop pretending you give a damn about me and just get on that fucking plane and do us both a favour. I thought I was enough, but I'm never, ever going to be able to live up to that. I can't let you stay if you'll spend the rest of your life telling people that I'm the reason you didn't achieve your dream. I can't be your second choice, and I am."
Silence. At last. I didn't know how to react to it. Apparently, neither did you. The surrounding area seemed to have cleared of travelers, minus one or two scurrying carefully to check-in, trying to avoid that couple having 'a domestic.' Those that were still at a close distance still managed to shoot us a disapproving glance, as if we were ruining their holiday experience before they'd even stepped foot on the aircraft. You broke the silence, to my relief.
"Han, just listen. Please. I told you about this before we even got together. I told you i had full intentions of going back to Melbourne when the term was over, and you said you were fine with it. You seemed, excited for me You knew- you know it's a great opportunity for me. I can't pass up a job offer like this. Not for anyone. You know this isn't about you, it never has been. It's always been about me. Don't take it personally. I'm not hurting you. If you just-"
"How can I not take it personally, Liam? I'm the one you seem to want to fly thousands of miles around the world to get away from? How the hell am I supposed to take that? I take it very personally. In fact, it breaks my fucking heart. Why are you doing this to me? Do you really not care at all? Am I not even worth a decent goodbye? Actually, scratch that- am I not worth more to you than some poxy job? You'd choose a huge paycheck over me?"
"You're not getting what I'm trying to say.. I need to take this opportunity but the thing is.."
"You don't get it! No, I don't want to hear any more excuses. You're going. That's the beginning and the end of everything. If I was given an ultimatum, I'd choose you over everything, every single time. But, I guess it doesn't always work both ways."
"Han, you're getting too upset.. I wish you'd just listen to what I'm trying to tell you!"
"WHAT?" I practically spat. My eyes felt like they were burning. The tears in my eyes stung like I'd been crying acid.
"What for? Leaving me or letting me know I'm your last resort?"
"Everything." was all you could say.
"Yeah well, I'm sorry I even met you, so fucking bad luck."
"Don't be like that, Han. You're taking this all wrong."
"You know what, Liam, I can't even bare to look at you any more. Just go. Have a fucking great life. I hope you forget me in an instant, because I never want to spend another second thinking about you."
And with that, I pulled my hands sharply out of his grip, turned and walked away, heading for the exit. Without saying a word, you grabbed me by the waist, stopping me.
"You're fucking hard work, Han, has anyone ever told you that?"
It was now my turn to be wearing the blank, confused expression.
"I'm only going to say this once, Han, so for god sakes, shut up and listen. You mean more to me than anyone or anything in the whole world. I've loved you ever since I set eyes on you, at that bus stop in November, when it was pissing down with rain and your hair was soaked and sticking to your cheeks, and you asked if I had a lighter on me. I never intended to hurt you. This is something I just have to do, for me. It's not a selfish decision, it's just a decision I really need to make. But, if you give me a chance, I'll prove myself to you, properly."
I didn't respond. I just kept looking into his eyes. Liam then rummaged around in his jeans pocket, retrieved something small and then took my left hand in his. As he knelt slowly to the floor, my brain just caught up with what my eyes were visualising and a grin found its way across my face. I'd missed the signs. He'd been trying to tell me, and I'd gone all psycho-bitch on him.
"I wanted it to be a surprise," he told me. "Why else do you think I've got so much in my suitcase? There's stuff in here for you too."
And that was it. I was finally speechless.
"Hannah, I love you. I always have, and I always will. I can't bare to live without you, whether it's in Leeds or in bloody Australia, I can't contemplate the idea of not waking up next to you every morning. So, Hannah, baby, whadda you say, will you do me the pleasure, the privilege, no- the honour, of becoming my wife?"
Tears were streaming down my cheeks, this time, happy tears. Happier tears than I'd ever experienced. I knelt down to meet his eye level, and kissed him.
"Is that a yes then?"
"It's a yes." I half-laughed, half-sobbed.
"Thank god," Liam exhaled deeply, "I thought I was going to have to pawn the fucker."
We both laughed in unison, but we were suddenly interrupted.
An announcement came over the receiver;
"Last call for flight 421 to Melbourne, Australia. Please report to gate 16, immediately."
We exchanged a glance. "Shit!"
Liam grabbed my hand, "come on, hurry, or we'll miss it."
"Wait, i haven't got my ring on yet."
He sighed, rolled his eyes, laughing a moment, slid the ringer quickly but carefully on my finger, kissed it softly with his lips, and then, it was time to run. No, sprint. Between us, we grabbed the bags and began running as fast as our legs could take us, to the correct terminal. We were running badly, hand-in-hand, juggling too-heavy luggage that kept hitting our sides every few hundred metres. Giggling like a pair of school kids. The distance made me feel like I'd ran a marathon on a stomach of three cornflakes. I felt dizzy and my pulse was beating out of a vein in my forehead. We both struggled for breath as we reached the gate and fell into the departure lounge, laughing heartily and breathlessly. We'd done it. We'd settled our differences, solved all our problems, and established what we both wanted. Now, there was only one problem...
"Liam, why does that board say Mexico? I thought you said we were going to Melbourne?"
"Shit," we both said in unison for a second time, and collapsed onto the floor even more, laughing hysterically.
"Fuck it, we'll get the next one."