"My, how you've grown."
The fire in her eyes swayed gently, as she took another sip of her sparkling wine. Growing up wasn't a choice she made. It just happened. She didn't think she deserved credit for something she didn't do. She whipped her hair over her shoulder, and continued to stare into the space above her plate.
"I always had faith in you. Even when you were just a silly little girl, I knew you'd come through."
She couldn't decide whether it was sweet of him, or patronizing. She was sure he grew up too, much in the same way she had. His laughter was no longer silly. It was hollow, and leaden. No. He hadn't grown up how she had. He'd grown far more, far too much. For the first time, she found concern swilling amongst the bubbles. She said nothing.
"You know...Some people grow, and some people don't. And before they do, it's always hard to be sure of who will, and how. But you're just...astounding now. Simply being around you makes me feel...Proud? Blessed? Lucky."
She had never seen his tears. And now, as they streamed down, his hands trembled, and his body shivered, and he looked sorrier than she'd thought possible. What a wreck, she thought with shame. What had happened to this marvellous young man, this man who fought for her, who fought her for her own sake. He was so certain, so confident, and so correct, she recalled. She was lost. How do I fix this, she thought wildly as she ran through a thousand ideas in her mind.
"I....I'm sorry. I just...I've....I'm embarrassing you. I'll leave. I'm sorry."
What a fool you are, he scolded himself. There were people there. They were watching. She's going to feel so exposed, so pressured. You FUCKING Idiot. What is this envy? You should be proud. Like you said you were. But no. You wish your life was going that well. You wish you knew yourself half as well. This is pathetic.
She is really something, though. I wonder why I broke. Maybe because...I thought she'd hold me up? No. There's something about her. Some sort of comfort. Yes. That's it. I knew she wouldn't think of me as any worse. She wouldn't judge me. She'd still love me for me, and for and despite all I've done.
That's exactly it.
So he pooled his tears in his hands, and wished them away, as if he knew that was what she would do.
Why do all of you cry at me, she wondered in misery. Do I not have enough to cry for myself? Do I have to be your Atlas, every single one of you? She held in all their complaints and their sadness.
The waiter approached cautiously, and let her know the bill could be settled later. Head in hands, her tears flavoured her dinner, as she wept, for once, for her own miseries.