The Last Time

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He found himself at her door. Like so many times before. But he couldn’t remember how he got there. It seemed all roads lead to her.

It was a warm but cool night. He could taste its humidity on his tongue.

Had he walked? Did he drive? He couldn’t remember. Nor could he tear his eyes off of the front door to look for clues. It stood before him tall and looming. The white paint glowed in the darkness like a lantern. He couldn’t even bring himself to knock.

Would she answer if he did? She was probably in her room, all alone, asleep. She probably wouldn’t even hear him.

He whispered her name.

She could feel his call lingering like a sigh through her bones.

She could hear his heart thumping like a jack-rabbit just beyond her front door. If she laid still enough, maybe he would leave. Leave her home. Leave her memory.

“Cecilia.”

She found herself unlocking the front door like she had been in some sort of hypnotic trance.

Their eyes met.

Her heart stopped.

His heart slowed down.

It felt better just to see her face again. Calmed him. And he told her this. “I’m sorry,” he added.

He was wearing his best apology, but not even that was enough. Not after all the times she had let him in, just for him to leave. Was it worth risking another heartbreak?

He knew every promise he had made in the past, he had also broken. Anything he could have said, she would have perceived as a lie.

“Can I come in?”

She didn’t answer but positioned herself in the middle of the doorway, a hand ready to smack that front door right in his face.

“Please.”

She adverted her eyes from his. His crystal eyes always made her weak. She needed strength.

“The last time I let you in, you shattered my grandmother’s porcelain vase.” Her words weren’t grudgeful or sad. They were light and heavy all at once. Just like the night’s summer air.

“I know,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

Again, he pleaded, “Will you let me in?”

She closed her eyes. The way her long lashes fluttered over her rosemary cheeks made the flame in his chest dance. “How long has it been this time?

“Four months.”

She scoffed. “How do I know I can trust you?”

He spoke so low even he couldn’t hear himself whimper, “That’s not fair.”

“Not fair?” She laughed, but her face twisted into a knot. She laughed, but tears streamed from both of her eyes. She laughed. She sobbed. And right before him, she was breaking. There was no where for her to hide or for him. No other reasons why, just the two of them.

He broke. He was at fault, he knew. And he knew he never wanted to be the reason she didn’t smile. Be the reason she cried. “I will never hurt you again,” he swore. “I’m done with that stuff for good.”

She collapsed to her knees. Her auburn hair fell before her face like branches of a willow, shielding herself from him. This is why he was surprised when he knelt down next to her and put his arm around her, that she folded into his chest. She gripped onto his shirt with her fists and cried so hard her entire body shook against his and her throat started to become raw. With a gasp for air she said, “This is the last time I’m asking you, put my name at the top of you list.”

“Of course.”

She calmed down slightly afterwards. Tears fell silently off the point of her chin and her heart still struggled to get back to its smooth rhythmic beat. Between hiccups she repeated, “This is the last time.”

He helped her to her feet.

“This is the last time.”

He lifted her so that her head rested in the nook between his head and his shoulder.

“This is the last time.”

He carried her in.

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