The unstable vertebrae in my back slipped regularly, half crippling me. This triggered my latent depression. Rather than hobnobbing with the other teaching assistants, I hid in my room. I missed my cat and my parents. I missed the man who loved me, his kind eyes and raspy laugh. Perhaps, I thought, God could still heal the rift between us. Victor Noir would seal the deal. I only had to hold on long enough to make it home.
Micah and I began to talk again via FaceTime. First monthly, then weekly. Leading up to my return, we imposed a three-day fast on ourselves, seeking wisdom. I nearly passed out in the Lisbon airport. It didn’t matter. We both got our answer, and that answer was no. We didn’t have a “why.” We just knew.
Weeks later, Ashley put on her tough love hat and enrolled me in a popular dating app. It was there, in late August, almost a year from our encounter with Victor in the graveyard, that I first saw Billy.
In one photo, he posed in a too-small karate outfit from his childhood. Laugh lines crinkled his temples, swept by dirty-blonde corn silk hair. In another, a fuzzy goat perched on the back of his broad shoulders while he planked over a yoga mat. The last picture was my favorite. He stood, hip cocked, squinting at the camera with a mischievous smirk, in front of the glass pyramid of the Louvre in Paris.
That one, said the nudge in my gut.
Billy kissed me on the first date. He was the oldest of three rowdy boys. Eagle Scout. Class clown. He hadn’t been to church since college.
On our third date, I tried to break up with him, but something stopped me. On our fourth date, he told me he loved me.