There he was. His brown eyes focused on his cup of coffee as he sat in the small café waiting for me to come. Chewing on my bottom lip, I watched as he ran his finger around the rim of the mug before closing his eyes for a short moment. I felt my nerves begin to kick in as my heart sat heavy in my chest. Taking a deep breath, I placed my hand on the door and gave it a light push, wincing lightly as the bell went off and wandering eyes turned to face me. Keeping my eyes low to avoid being recognized, I walked over to the far table that rested in the left corner. Smiling weakly, I sat down in the empty chair, shrugging my jacket off as his eyes finally looked up to glance at me.
“Hello Josh.” I greeted softly, pulling my gloves off as I glanced down at the cup that sat in front of me.
“It’s tea.” Josh said, as if he was reading my mind. “It’s the way you like it, unless you changed your mind.”
“I still like my tea the same.” I nodded before grabbing my cup, resting the warm mug against my pink lips.
Josh sent me a weak smile before picking up his own cup, coffee I suppose, and take a slow sip of the brown liquid. As his eyes were trained on his coffee, I allowed myself a chance to see just how much Josh had changed since the last time I saw him. His brown eyes appeared tired up close, different from the deep chocolate that I remember from long ago. His hair was a tad shorter than I last remembered and he still had that silver lip ring that I secretly loved and hoped he would never get ride of. But looking past the obvious changes, I stared at his face that was now present with a few stress lines around his forehead, as well as a small crinkle next to his left eye that wasn’t there months ago. I quickly averted my eyes away from Josh as he placed his cup down and moved his eyes to me.
“You look good Hayley.” He smiled softly before running his hand through his disheveled hair that I remember loving running my fingers through.
“You too.” I nodded, my fingers reaching up to play with my pink locks.
Again Josh nodded weakly before his eyes moved up and down, taking everything about me that has changed since the last time I saw him. I couldn’t blame him really, I did the same thing to him and even if I didn’t, I wasn’t the same girl he left before.
“So how’s the wife?” I asked quietly, hoping to start a conversation to ease the awkward silence that sat between us.
“We’re doing fine.” Josh replied with a soft smile.
“That’s good.” I nodded slowly.
“We’re fine.” I smiled weakly, almost wanting to laugh at how this conversation was going.
“Good.” Josh nodded before taking another sip of his coffee.
“Great.” I mumbled quietly under my breath before turning my attention out the window. Snow was falling quietly at a leisurely pace as the December cold threatened to invade our November.
“It’s getting cold.” Josh noted, sighing quietly as he noticed my trained eyes on the window.
“I hate the cold.” I breathed before turning around to face Josh once more.
“I remember.” Josh chuckled weakly, a small smile threatening to form.
“How is Novel American?” I asked with a weak smile, fiddling with my fingers as I mentioned Josh’s new band.
“We lost our lead singer a few months back and we’re working on finding a new one.” Josh shrugged.
“Oh.” I whispered.
“It’s okay.” Josh smiled weakly. “As of now I’ve been voted the lead singer.”
“You?” I questioned with a light laugh.
“I know right.” Josh chuckled, the first genuine smile reaching his lips.
“I just don’t see it.” I smiled, taking another sip of my tea before placing it back down again.
“I know.” Josh shrugged as he reached out to take the salt shaker in his hand. I sat there and watched Josh tilt the shaker to the left then back to right. He chewed down on his lip ring as his eyes focused on the glass shaker and that’s went the knot in my gut began to form. I knew Josh all to well to know that he was nervous and trying hard not to walk away from me right here and now but he wouldn’t do it thought. He was Joshua Neil Farro, a southern gentleman. Josh’s walls were up and I know why. The last time we talked was burned into his mind, leaving a permanent scar that no one could fix except maybe myself. Taking a deep breath, I pushed my bangs back with my hand and swallowed hard.
“Shouldn’t I be saying that?” Josh chuckled weakly as he noticed the worried expression written clearly on my face.
“I deserved everything you wrote about me Josh.” I whispered as I felt a few tears sting at my eyes.
“No one deserves what I wrote about you.” Josh argued softly. “I was, am a jerk, for never apologizing.”
“You’re not a jerk.” I breathed as I felt my throat begin to tighten.
“Yes I am Hayley.” Josh groaned before throwing his head into his hands. “How could I write all that shit about you? You’re my best friend.”
“Well I wasn’t acting like your best friend at the time.” I admitted as a single tear streamed down my cheek.
“I hurt you Hayley, you were allowed to be mad.” Josh whispered.
“But I knew you weren’t happy Josh!” I cried, finally allowing my tears to stream down my cheeks. “I should’ve stopped you from leaving!”
“It wouldn’t have changed anything Hayley.” Josh sighed.
“Yes it could have!” I sobbed.
“If I didn’t shut you out when you were trying to tell me what you were feeling Josh you wouldn’t have left! I would’ve convinced you to stay in Paramore and you would’ve been happy again Josh!” I cried, shoulders shaking as another sob racked through my small frame. “I could’ve prevented all of this!”
“No you couldn’t have Hayley.” Josh sighed once more.
“This is all my fault!” I cried, completely ignoring everything Josh was saying.
“Last September when you told me you wanted to leave I should’ve fought for you. Don’t you get it Josh? This is all my fault. You were giving hints that you weren’t happy for the past four years but I ignored them Josh and you want to know why? I was scared. I was afraid that if I went back to being your best friend that I wouldn’t want to be friends with you anymore. I was afraid that if I became your friend again that I would fall in love with you all over again and I couldn’t do that to you or Jenna, Josh. I just couldn’t.”
“And how can I even call myself a good human being anymore Josh? I didn’t even try to stop you that night you left. I just sat there in my bunk and allowed you to leave so easily. I told myself to give up that night Josh and I did. That December night haunts me all the time Josh and it’s all my fault. Paramore is broken, I’m broken, you’re broken, and it’s all my fault.”
“No it’s not.” Josh argued, shaking his head lightly.
“Yes it is.” I cried, not caring if everyone in the café turned around to stare at us.
“That’s it.” Josh mumbled before standing up and pulling on his jacket.
I just sat there in shock as I watched Josh pull out a ten from his wallet before placing it on the table next to our drinks. Wiping my tears with the back of my hands, I gasped as I watched Josh zip up his jacket as he headed for the door. Turning his head, Josh smiled softly at me before shaking his head.
“Are you coming or what?”
Nodding my head, I grabbed my gloves and jacket and followed Josh out of the café and onto the main road where the snow was lightly falling.
“What are we doing Josh?” I asked slowly, pulling on my jacket and buttoning it up before pulling on my gloves.
“Taking a walk.” Josh answered with a slight shrug.
“In the middle of November.” I laughed softly.
“It was the only thing I could think of so that the café back there wouldn’t be ease dropping on our reunion.” Josh sighed.
“Oh.” I nodded, biting down on my bottom lip as my eyes averted away from Josh’s gaze.
“It’s not your fault you know.” Josh whispered as he took a quick glance at me. “Me leaving isn’t your fault.”
“It felt like it was.” I whispered back.
“I was getting homesick.” Josh admitted with a tired laugh. “Jenna wanted me home more and suddenly the music didn’t mean as much anymore.”
“You loved playing Josh.” I breathed as a snowflake landed before melting on my cheek.
“I still do but at the time it felt like the right thing to do.”
“It wasn’t because I pushed you away?” I whispered but I quickly regretted asking it once it left my lips.
“I needed to leave for myself Hayley, not because you pushed me away.” Josh answered after a minute or two of silence.
“I wasn’t being a good friend.” I mumbled.
“Neither was I.” Josh argued.
“I should’ve told you to stay.” I whispered.
“I don’t think the outcome would be any different Hayles.” Josh sighed, my heart skipping a beat when he used my old nickname.
“And why not?” I asked quietly.
“I just couldn’t stand being on the same bus as you Hayley.” Josh whispered, an emotion unidentifiable resting in his eyes.
“Because when I told you in September that I was leaving, my chest felt heavy and my stomach lurched at the thought of leaving you. You started crying and gasping for air asking me if this was some kind of sick joke but I couldn’t look at you when I told you the truth. I remember pulling you into my arms when you shook your head and screamed no over and over again. It physically put me through pain every time I imagined myself leaving Paramore and you and it scared me. Here I am married to Jenna but I can stomach the thought of leaving her at home but I can’t even fathom the idea of leaving you. It wasn’t right.”
“Josh…” I breathed.
“I started to second guess everything and anything that ran through my mind the next couple of weeks after that. I felt sick to my stomach. You remember that one day where I went missing after that one show?” Josh asked, turning his head to face me before I nodded my head.
“I went to the local park that night and just sat there and re-evaluated my life. And I realized that I had to move on, not only for myself but for Jenna, my marriage, and you Hayley.” Josh sighed, shaking his head lightly as a small chuckle escaped his lips.
“I’m so sorry Josh.” I whispered, another tear streaming down my left cheek.
“For what? I thought we established that none of this was your fault.” Josh asked, raising his eyebrow in confusion as I stared at him.
“For four years ago.” I whispered, my throat feeling tight.
“I’m over it.” Josh shrugged before placing his hand out and catching a snowflake on his palm.
“I’m not.” I said softly, closing my eyes as I felt another tear escape.
“I can’t help but wonder if you would still be in Paramore if we never broke up. All I can think about is our last summer together and how in love we were. I miss that Josh.” I breathed with a shaky breath.
“You know I missed that too Hayley.” Josh sighed. “But we both moved on. We have to stop living in the past.”
“You’re right.” I nodded with a weak smile. “But I have on more thing to be sorry for.”
“Hayley…” Josh warned.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call you on your birthday.” I smiled softly as I reached out and grabbed Josh’s arm.
“Well I’m sorry I didn’t call you in June.” Josh smiled back as we continued our walk in the snow.
“Why would you call me in June?” I questioned.
“To tell you that Monster sounds really good.”
“Josh…” I sang with a small smile when Josh allowed a light blush to cross his cheeks.
“Of course it could’ve used more drums and an awesome guitar solo in the middle but I’m not complaining.” Josh teased with a slight smirk.
“I should’ve known.” I laughed.
“We’ll here’s our stop.” Josh sighed as my house stood in front of us.
“Here it is.” I breathed, loosening my grip on Josh’s arm as I faced my house.
“Thanks for coming tonight Hayley.” Josh smiled.
“Thanks for calling Josh.” I shrugged before sending Josh a small grin.
“You should probably go inside Hayles, your nose is all red.” Josh said, nodding towards my house.
“Okay.” I nodded.
“Don’t be a stranger.” Josh smiled. “You can call anytime.”
“Will do.” I whispered before reaching over and placing a small kiss on Josh’s cheek.
“I’ll see you around Hayles.” Josh nodded as he turned around and started his walk home.
“Bye best friend!” I screamed, smiling when Josh turned around to smile at me.
“See you soon best friend.” Josh chuckled before he started his walk once more.
So this is me swallowing my pride
Standing in front of you saying I'm sorry for that night
And I go back to December
Turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you
Wishing that I realized what I had when you were mine
I'd go back to December turn around and make it alright
I'd go back to December turn around and change my own mind
I go back to December all the time