"Thank you," she wrote. It seemed so small an ending after so long a time.

There was a lot to be thankful for: many years of shared laughter, an understanding that ran deeper than distance, the gift of faith in herself he had helped her find, a sparkle that had never ever failed to remind her of the vividness possible in life. She would not regret that. And she chose to forget the tears, loneliness and heartbreaks. They would no longer have access to her life. But they were not the reason she was choosing to walk away.

She had dealt with heartbreak and loneliness. She was stronger than those. It wasn't even guilt. It too was familiar and no match for her will. It was truth. She knew the truth. There was no hope. There was no future. She had known it for some time and ignored it, but now she faced it squarely. The knowledge crumbled their castle in the air and left it in ruins. It was the apple, and she tasted its bitterness. But her eyes were opened and would not be closed again. It had to be.

She turned away from the smoldering ruins of her thoughts and took the hand of a friend standing silently by. She gripped that hand tight and let it lead her back to the path she had chosen, and she knew it was right. Every time she looked over her shoulder, that hand guided her back. There was hope. There was a future. It simply lay in another direction.

"Thank you," she wrote. She did not have the heart to say it meant "Goodbye."

©Sonja Torres