Louis Appleby: Rear View Mirror Sunset

28 January - 5 March 2022

I won’t forget our 4th date when you invited me round for dinner. I was excited but flustered. The knot in my stomach had been tightening all day,  I was so tense I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat a thing. You answered the door wearing an oversized smile and a well-fitted apron. You had a way of putting me at ease with just a look. I was infatuated already, my nervous ball of energy to your effortlessly cool.

I’d hoped you didn’t catch me staring fixated as you ground cilantro handling the pestle and mortar with such intensity and focus, I’d never been so turned on by food prep, it hadn’t felt appropriate until that moment. If you’d asked me to jump in you could have ground me down without a second thought.

When we met I was done with dating. I was burnt by all that had come before. I never expected any of this, I’d always felt undeserving but with you it was a reset, like that first unconditional love. I gave you all of me without a care, you were so sensitive and kind, always doing the right thing.

I could happily relive our weekend in Yosemite on a permanent loop. I remember the hazy glow of the city lights shrinking in the distance as we sped off. Your sunglasses reflected the nights' sky and my creased laughing face when you turned to me. God I hated how that made me look but it seemed to just make you all the funnier. The smoking embers of your cigarette flickered as you took a draw, seemingly never going out. How did you make this life look so easy?

That weekend was probably the last where we had real sunsets. Lying under the stars with you away from everything we connected like never before. Perhaps our bodies somehow knew what was about to happen?

If anything after the event we drew even closer. It’s funny to think how a major occurrence shared by millions could have such a profound effect on you and I. I suppose the idea of the end of the world was seductive whilst it remained fiction but once that fucking thing actually happened I just knew it in my bones.

After that, the world around us changed but we were happy, knowing our time was short. Who’d have thought the biggest show of all times wasn’t on the TV but one playing outside our window each day. Those burning fire red horizons etched forever on my retina, the background to our days together.

You know how much I hated romcoms, all those clichés... But we were the cliché, a once-in-a-lifetime meeting of two people who just clicked as if cut from the same cloth. Which makes the next bit hurt all the more...

I hate that I’m writing this letter but to see your face right now would destroy me. You know you're everything to me, we’ve been inseparable for what seems like a lifetime. I know this sounds crazy but I hope in time you understand why I have to do this. Knowing we found one another made sense of all of this but in recent weeks I've come to realise I can't do it. What gave me comfort for so long now breaks me, how could I be around you at the end? I can’t face seeing you like that and you me, the thought of it scares me more than the thing itself. Please don’t think less of me and please don’t come looking for me.

My love always



Text by Nicky Daws

Nicky Daws is an American author and not an anagram of a gallerist. They’ve published a number of best-selling novels in the romantic fiction genre and regularly contribute short stories to a variety of print publications and podcasts.