His heart felt like it was expanding. The warmth he felt in his chest halted the icy snow, and he smiled down at the young woman he so adored. “Remi, of course I’m going to miss you.” he leaned down and kissed her on her angelic, pink lips. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Mattieu.” she murmured with a soft smile before she looked away. “Are you sure we can handle going long-distance like this? Even if we’re only across town, you won’t ever be able to see me, except when I do public shows.” Her voice was a sad bell tuned to a minor key. Her green-grey eyes looked down, and she turned her face away from him. “You should move on and find someone else to love, Mattieu.” Her tone was pleading, and she slowly worked up her courage to look him in the eye.
The catch in her voice caught Mattieu off his guard, and his throat tightened. “Remi, I’m happy to wait for you. Can I write?”
“Email? Text? Maybe call?”
“My new agent says it’s not wise.” She forced herself to look away from his kicked-puppy eyes.
“Remi, I want to be able to tell you how much I love you every day.” He sighed.
“Stop it. Just stop it.” Her voice cracked as she held in tears. “I love you too, but you deserve someone able to hug you and kiss you! Find another girlfriend!” As she spoke, her voice gained in strength. After the last word, she looked up at his face. Her tears blurred her vision, but there was no avoiding the expression of heartache on her lover’s face. She turned and fled into the waiting limousine. After a few moments, the elongated car drove away, leaving Mattieu to stare at it.
The young man coughed as the limousine’s exhaust hit him, and he turned away. He slowly looked up at the now-foreboding apartment building. He plodded slowly to the door and walked in. He did not greet the security officer, nor the cleaning staff as he walked to the stairs and began to climb.
He stared down at the floor as he walked. The designs made him dizzy, and eventually he felt numb as he replayed her words over and over in his mind. She didn’t want him. She wanted him to find someone else. There was nobody else in the world as perfect as Remi.
For a long time, Mattieu spent his time in front of a television, staring listlessly at the news between bathroom breaks. He began to lose weight, and stopped going to school. Even his drunken mother began to notice, and eventually straddled his legs and force-fed the struggling boy, as though he was two years old.
“Mattie, stop it! She was just your first girlfriend. I know it hurts, but you have got ta go to school!” She scolded firmly. “What happened to the boy that promised his mother he would do well in school so he could give his kids a happier life than he had, huh?” She jutted her chin out and waited for her son’s answer.
“Remi broke his heart into pieces!” he replied melodramatically. “He’s dead, and all that’s left is an empty husk!”
“That’s a lie. My boy’s a strong boy, one who fights for what he wants.” She put her hands on her hips, then quickly steadied herself on his knees. For a woman as short as she was, he felt like he was always looking up at her, rather than down.
“I don’t know if I can, Mom.” The boy finally admitted.
“To start, I got you tickets to her concert. You can say good-bye from the tenth row back. I would have gotten you a pass to the back or the front row, but I couldn’t afford it.” She shook her head.
“Mom, return it.” He frowned. “I… I’ll earn my own ticket when I’m ready.” He forced a smile. He felt a little better. “I’ll go back to school. I promise.”
“Um.” He pursed his lips as he tried to recall what day it was.
“Monday the fourth of March. It’s five in the morning. Get a shower, I’ll cut your hair, and then you can get breakfast and go.” She kissed his cheek and got up. “Are you sure you want me to return the ticket? I’ve heard her sing, and she’s got some lungs on her.
The boy forced a laugh. “Well, yeah. I helped her learn how to sing.”
The woman laughed. “Yeah, I remember her first voice lesson here. Our neighbors bitched a lot!” She grinned. “I’m off to work soon, hurry with that shower!”
As the months moved on from the break-up between Mattieu and Remi, the boy seemed to recover. He returned to school and socialized, though rarely made new friends. He shied away from girls of all ages, and wrote often in a growing series of notebooks that he kept hidden in a box under his bed.
Now and then his box filled to the top, then disappeared entirely, only to be replaced by a different box.
Months went on, and Mattieu’s mother was cleaning her son’s small bedroom. She found a few used condoms in his waste basket, and shrugged that off. She wiped his desk down, followed by his bookshelf and instruments. She made his bed, and gathered his clothes, then bent down on her hands and knees to look under his bed. She pulled the box from its place, curiosity in her gaze. “Hm?” She reached inside and pulled out the top notebook.
The wire binding was crushed and mangled, and it was difficult to open. Inside, her son’s hand writing graced the pages, filling them with one name on every inch of every line. “Remi.” in many lettering styles. On the last page, the shocked woman’s eyes widened, and she reached for her pocket. Her fingers found her phone, and she began to dial rapidly. The emergency response number was short, and someone answered rapidly. “My son is missing, and I think he’s in danger.” she began as tears and pain filled her body.