She’s heard the song.
He sent it to her a few weeks ago, in a box with the ring he always wore around his neck and one of her sweaters he had taken on tour with him. She knew he had much more of her stuff than that, and didn’t know if there would be more boxes or if he couldn’t seem to part with her other things. She doesn’t blame him, his clothing is still hanging in their shared closet and she still pulls down the covers on his side of the bed out of habit.
She didn’t know if was going to be a song at first. But she knew it wasn’t going to be good, nothing about them was good anymore. She poured herself a generous glass of wine and popped the CD into her laptop. She could open up the photobooth photos of them when they were young and in love but the last time she did that she ended up leaving a voicemail on his phone so she thinks twice and clicked on the file.
His voice fills the room and she turns it up all the way. It’s so familiar, she used to ache for it every hour of the day. She still does. It’s an acoustic song, and she smiles because she was the one that convinced him to produce an acoustic version of this album. She always loved the way his voice sounded against the piano or guitar instead of filled with heavy beats. Because this was the voice she would hear in the middle of the night singing her to sleep, she thought he never sounded more beautiful.
The line about drinking to take pain away hurts her because he was the one with the drinking problem. He was the one that got wasted with all his friends every night, he was the one that betted with twist that he could preform an entire concert drunk, he was the one that would call her on sunday morning hungover and miserable, begging her to take care of him even though they were hundreds of miles apart. But she clutches the glass of wine in her hand and thinks he might be right, for both of them.
The chorus hurts her so much she can’t breathe. It puts all the words neither of them have been able to say over the past few months together. Because there was nothing like her and Justin. They were fireworks and tornadoes, the golden couple that everyone expected to make it through everything; until they didn’t.
It wasn’t some big fight. She wishes she had an answer to all the questions. They just fell apart in the most complicated of ways. She remembers walking into the kitchen and watching him and Scooter plan his tour, wide eyed as she saw all the dates he would be gone from her. She remembers how hard he had kissed her, telling her they could get through everything. Scooter had just sat there, stating that the south needed more tour dates and that maybe they should extended that show to two nights. It was as if he knew this would tear them apart, like he had seen it before, he probably had.
But there was the drinking, and the partying, and him never being home and her busy filming schedule. He never answered the phone and she never really wanted to talk to him in the first place. The absolute desire they had for each other seemed to have burnt out.
The song is absolutely breathtaking. She grabs the bottle of wine instead of her glass and puts it on repeat. Selena walks to her back door and looks out into her empty backyard. Justin had promised they could get a swingset and a trampoline, told her that this house was big enough that they could live in it forever. When they have kids, and even grandkids, that this would be it. But the yard is still empty and Justin won’t be coming back to this house, one of his friends had came and collected some things last week for him. There was no turning back now.
She turns around and looks at all the photos on the wall. There is some of her and friends, but most of them are of her and Justin. Them on their first vacation, them on the night he first told her I love you, a picture of her J ring and his ring, some pictures of her playing with his little brother and sister. She looks around the house and can’t find a god damned thing that doesn’t have a trace of Justin.
Selena would move out but she doesn’t want to. She’s grown fond of the memories that plague the rooms. The time he tripped up the stairs or when they had sex in every room of the house to bless it. It was stupid and it was painfully them.
She sits back down, phone sweaty in her palm. The song is still playing on repeat, and she loves it. She already can see herself sobbing on the floor later tonight with it playing through the loud speakers he had installed in this house. Everything about this situation is ironic. She presses down on the home button, thinks of all the various pictures of them her background has been. But now it’s a picture of her and a fan, and it’s sweet and endearing but not the same. She wonders if his is still that picture of them from back in 2009. He had gotten several new phones but he had always kept his background the same, him kissing her cheek as she smiled bright at the camera.
She eventually turns off her phone, knowing he wouldn’t answer if she called. And she doesn’t want to, theres nothing left to say. The song is beautiful, but she didn’t expect differently. Justin has tons of songs like this kept in the journals he has, and he’ll never record them because he’s shy. Selena is the only one that knows about them, knows what talent he keeps hidden under the surface. She thinks this might be his final gift to her. He used to shower her with things she never needed, but she desperately needed this song.
The words hurt her like a knife to the heart but its good. It’s closure in the strangest of ways. She’s still in love with Justin, she will always love Justin. And she’s confident that he will always love her. Too many hidden smiles and secrets lay between them to just forget about it all. She’ll always remember Cabo, the scar on her right knee from when she fell down that tree he dared her to climb, and the time he told her that everything would be alright, with shining eyes and a heavy heart. And most of all, she’ll remember believing him, and believing in him, something she will never regret.