He broke her heart in more ways than he would know and more times than she would dare to count. That was the simple nature of things. She was far too open with her heart and he was far too removed from his life. It would be kind to say they met in the middle. It would also be a lie. They orbited each other, unable to resist the pull of their shared gravity.
The ways they met were like that. They would meet, drift apart, and meet again. If you believed in something like fate or karma, you’d blame it on that. If you believed in their orbit, you would be a resistant romantic. They came into each others’ lives and perhaps never left, but only provided space momentarily as not to cause a cataclysmic event. They were like that. Volatile. Able to create a sudden explosion and then drown in their own black hole. It turns out the orbit kept them both from implosion.
He sat in her dorm room freshman year of college and was not awed, but perhaps astounded that someone, a contemporary of his, could be so brazenly self assured, even in the face of such obvious personal faults and flaws. She seemed oblivious of any flaw in herself, or she just didn’t give a shit about what anyone else thought. She seemed to hurl that feeling in the face of her audience. She had no time for coeds who cared more about creating the right impression than debating philosophical ideas. She was odd.
She was intense, and that would not change with the years. He would see her again, after he went to grad school and she went wherever she went, in a local package store in the city. She was with someone, so was he. Yet she stared at him with abandon, curious as to how she recognized him, not ashamed of her curiosity. Which is how he realized he, too, recognized her. After quizzing each other on peripheral friends they may have in common, undergrad was finally brought up, settling the matter, and each parted to their own paths.
He thought about her off an on after, catching the memory of her sitting cross-legged on her bed in her dorm, he seated across from her on her desk chair, some debate she was self-assuredly winning. She didn’t think of him just then. She quite forgot the moment.
A couple more years and a local bar and she stared directly into his open face again; the only thing about him that was ever open, his face. But open only in manner, not deed. She was always intense, he was always unapologetically reserved.
They dated, they fucked, he ended things, but only to come back into her orbit again, as only their story would allow. And they continued to orbit each other. She was intense, he was reserved, they fucked, they orbited. He would break her heart the dozen times he never let her in. He would never understand who she was. They orbited.