|Body and Soul
Author: dollfaceace PM
Heartbreak always makes for a good storyRated: Fiction T - English - Words: 6,797 - Published: 05-25-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2676925
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"This is your price," Kara tells me, "pain is the price you must pay for a bit of happiness." My sister's words are harsh, but I can't deny the truth in them. Tears stream silently down my face as I clutch a damp pillow to my chest. I sniffle a little, nearly losing what meager control I have of myself.
"There, there, Abby. He's not worth your tears." Kara's words are flat and emotionless, as if this is a duty she has no desire to fulfill.
He's worth everything.
"Leave me alone," I choke, and Kara merely shrugs before leaving me in peace.
My heart feels strained, very weary, yet also strangled. It's as if a hand has reached into my chest, squeezing the organ every so slightly, testing its boundaries. It moves over my strengths without a care, only paying attention to the weakest spots, saying, "ah, there you are" before tearing the bit away. It's done it before without cause to panic, but I fear this time there will be nothing left, for the wounds weave far too deep.
A sob threatens to escape as a face clouds my memory. His face.
It seems only yesterday that I first glimpsed his crooked smile. My smile. The one that reached his eyes and burned into my soul.
For all of eternity, I can't help but think it.
My stomach clenches as I struggle to force the vision away. He's not mine, nor will he ever be.
Never was to begin with.
"Shut up!" I hiss at my own thoughts. It is of my own doing, but the wound stings deep within me. Yes, lips to taste, but not to own, my heart yearning for a way in all the while. How could I have known that while I searched he was building walls and sealing all possible ways of entry? The answer is simple, I couldn't.
Everything about him – his smile, his eyes, his voice – were only a distraction, so that as I fell, I never saw the world flying fast beside me. I missed all the signs, and when I finally blinked my eyes in wonder, it was far too late.
Evan's goodbyes were in his fingerprints, but his touches were light, careful not to embed them into my skin. He never had to take hold, I was a willing prisoner chained to his side.
How very foolish.
"Indeed, I knew," my voice answers barely above a whisper.
And still you stayed.
I sigh. Love makes fools of us all at one point or another. We sacrifice for it, and fight to gain and keep it as if our hearts won't flinch even a bit without it. Indeed, our life forces are drained, our bodies empty without it. After a length of time, our bodies lose warmth in its absence. Our anatomy is hardened, and soon we forget that we were soft to begin with, that we were once the laborers of love.
Better to die than to forget.
My thoughts merge with memories, creating an alliance to betray me. I try to push them away, fearing that I might be partially insane.
Mad with grief. Do not be ashamed.
I bite my lip, choking back another wave of emotions. The ebb and flow fight against each other until the tide is pushed back completely. My sigh of relief rushes out shakily, and I grip tighter to my pillow.
Block out the memories if you must, but you can never block out your heart.
A whimper escapes me with this new thought, and my resolve comes crashing down. The tears flee down my face, afraid of the pain that is surely in my eyes. Fear washes over me in quick pulsing movements; I do not wish to remember.
Never fear what you might remember, learn to be content with what you cannot forget.
My body shakes with my poisonous thoughts, the venom slowly numbing my pain. My eyes grow heavy with the passing seconds. When my tears dry, I slip into a deep sleep.
And remember everything.
It starts with a shimmer, a small something that builds into something beyond belief. You open your eyes and suddenly you see the world as it should be seen, all the colors vivid, all sounds the equivalent to sweet music. You have your good days, one right after the other, the best days of your life, and you realize you're in love. The feeling is shared and you live happily ever after. Isn't that what we're taught? Love is a fairy tale that conquers all, with all the beauty that could possibly be known. The stories are well known, and though the details may differ, they are all the same. A handsome prince rescues a beautiful princess; they beat the odds, and live forever in each other's arms. This is not the kind of romance I have lived, they do not write these stories to be shared.
Never has there been a story with a girl no one ever wanted, and the boy she could never understand. There is no magic in stories about the unwanted ones, only truth, and that in itself is an underestimated beauty. No one sees the beauty in a story such as mine, not the way I do. No one believes there can ever be beauty in a story such as this.
Instead of a shimmer, it starts with the night. A very cold night, when my friends are able to convince me to leave the warmth of my house for a gathering in the mountains, against my better judgment, I should add. We bundle ourselves in layers of coats and thermals, before hopping into Drew's banged up station wagon. Leslie claims shotgun, and Tatum and I slide into the backseat without argument. The only way either of us gets the front is usually if we're doing the driving, a fact we'd learned to live with long ago.
The engine rumbles to life, and soon we're flying down the freeway toward our destination. I have no idea who we're going to meet there, only that there are going to be "hot guys" and Drew's boyfriend, Marc, happens to be the recruiter. The other girls are excited, always thrilled by the possibility they'll have someone to flaunt around the mall. I, on the other hand, couldn't care less. Most guys my age have the attention span and maturity of a five year old, and therefore hold nothing to catch my heart with. They're never in it for love, not this early in the game, and since I dislike the game, I have chosen to keep myself out of it. Still, I oblige Drew with the small hope that I might also have someone attached to my hand, even though it is moot.
When we reach the spot, a fire is already blazing, chairs scattered around it. Some of the seats are filled, but most of them are empty, their owners choosing instead to stand in a jumble to socialize. Tatum and Leslie are practically bouncing with excitement, while Drew just smiles at a figure in the clutter that must be Marc.
We vacate the car, and the boys call a series of hellos to us, each overlapping the others. My friends rush to join them at the fire, while I take my time making my way over to an empty seat. I stare at the blaze, only looking up when I hear my name being mentioned in introduction. I offer a small smile and a wave before returning my gaze to the flames, not bothering to learn the names of the pieces of meat Marc brought for us to choose from. They won't remember us tomorrow anyways, and even though I'll remember their faces, not knowing the names of who hooked up with whom will definitely help me to forget them faster.
Time passes slowly, and a few more carloads of people arrive. More introductions are made, and I continue to tactfully ignore them. Eventually I'm sure I have become invisible, since no one has said a word to me or of me since the last car arrived more than forty-five minutes ago. This is fine by me, it promises that tonight will be a distant memory.
To pass the time, I concentrate on the way the flames move; the different colors that emerge with each bend and twist in the breeze. My ears tune out the voices and, instead, listen to the crackling of the wood under the heat. Soon, I don't even notice the cold seeping through my layers, and I feel as if I'm sleeping with my eyes open. I almost wonder what I look like from the outside, what others might see if they chose to look at me. Would there be emotion in my face? Or would I be a blank canvas, a shadow of a human being?
The wind shifts, and smoke blows into my staring eyes. I blink away the pain stinging my vision, and cough the pollution from my lungs. My gaze shifts back and forth over the crowd, wondering if anyone even noticed. I sigh at the backs turned toward me and place my sights back toward the pit of fire. For a split second I glance through it and notice a set of eyes watching me from the other side. The owner smiles at me crookedly, and when I look away I hear a rustling coming toward me.
Great, now I get to have company.
The movement stops beside me, and settles with the creak of a chair. I look up and meet the same eyes that had just been watching me from a far. In the light of the fire, they look green, but I can't be certain. The same crooked smile is still splayed across the intruders face, and I wait for his lips to open and break the silence. When he doesn't say anything I become exasperated.
"Is there something you needed?" I ask him, my words a little harsher than intended. His smile doesn't falter.
"I noticed you were alone," he states.
Keen sense of observation.
"Uh-huh," I prompt him to continue, "what of it?"
He shrugs, "Just doesn't seem like very much fun."
No, it wouldn't to you, would it? I'm sure your idea of fun is playing musical girls until the sun comes up.
"I assure you, I'm content with being alone," I emphasize, hoping he gets the hint.
Please leave. You're cute, but you're not wanted.
He raises an eyebrow, and his eyes wander over my face.
"Funny, you look a lot nicer from far a way," he says, clearly joking, but I still take offense.
"I'm sure we're not all what we seem."
As in, you seem like a nice enough guy, but you're probably just doing it to get in my pants before getting rid of me.
"No, we're not," he starts, "but I'm sure I'm not the only one who's made assumptions."
He's catches me off guard, and it takes me a second to form my answer.
"You're not, but my assumptions are correct more often than not. I'd rather stick with what is more likely to be true."
"And what is that?" he presses, his persistence getting annoying.
"Most guys only want to get in your pants, and nothing more substantial than that."
My stranger nods, "But you forget Drew and Marc. They've been together for a while, haven't they?"
Of course that's our common link.
"Yes," I start carefully, "but they are the exception, not something to mold my opinions to. 'Be the rule, not the exception.' That's what I live my life by."
"I see. So you never take risks?"
I shake my head, "Not this kind."
"Interesting," he murmurs, getting lost in a though.
Now will you leave me in peace?
"I wonder," he continues, "would you be willing to at least keep me company? I promise I won't even make a move on you, and you'll never have to see me again if you don't want to."
I take in his request skeptically. It seems harmless enough, and it beats staring into a fire all night.
It won't hurt.
"Fine, you can stay."
A smile spreads across his face again, this time it's brilliant, and not crooked in the least bit. His shaggy brown hair ruffles in the wind, and I wonder what I've gotten myself in to. He holds out his hand, introducing himself.
"Evan Zachariah Martin, at your service."
I roll my eyes before taking his hand, "Abigail Elizabeth Clark, and I believe I am at your service. You can call me Abby."
And with that our evening begins. It isn't long before I feel at ease, and I forget that I was wary to begin with. It's easy to have a conversation with Evan, even if most of what we've said holds no significance to anything. Still, by the end of the night, I'm torn by the prospect of leaving. As my friends say their goodbyes to everyone else, I struggle to end my discussion.
"I guess that means our time has ended," I sigh.
"Thank you for indulging me," He smirks, "I hope it wasn't too much of an inconvenience to you."
"It had its moments," I say, joking.
He laughs, "In all seriousness though, were your assumptions anywhere near being correct?"
I bite my lip, hesitating with my answer.
"No, you were very well behaved… for a boy that is."
"You make me sound like a puppy you just brought home."
I shake my head, "More like a play date at the pound before making the final decision."
He's suddenly serious, "And what is that decision?"
I shrug, "You're the exception."
Drew, Tatum, and Leslie are calling my name behind me, telling me it's time to go home. I'm tempted to ask for Evan's number, but I don't want to push it. This is a spark I can look back on, not enough to fuel the flames of my life.
"Thank you for the company," I say before standing.
"The pleasure was all mine."
He doesn't say anything more, and I turn away to leave. I fight the urge to look back as my feet trample toward the station wagon, and when I close my door, my eyes stay fixed on the back of Leslie's seat.
"Did you have a nice time?" Drew asks, looking at me in the rear view mirror.
"Yeah," I say, chancing a peek at the fire. Evan's still where I left him, looking into the flames, a crooked smile on his face.
A few days later, I get a call from a number I don't recognize. Usually I would let it go to voicemail, but something in the back of my mind tells me I need to answer it this time. One ring, two rings, three, I don't have much time to decide. I give in, hitting send before raising it to my ear.
"Hey, Abby!" a nervous voice says, "Do you know who this is?"
Something clicks together in my head, "Evan, right?"
I would recognize that voice anywhere, but it's better to play it off like I don't care.
"You remembered! Awesome! I hope I'm not bothering you. I know I promised you you'd never have to see me again, but I realized hearing from me was never mentioned."
How presumptuous. Still, I can't help but smile.
"You're right," I say, pausing for effect, "I never did say I didn't want to hear from you."
"Oh," he starts, sounding unsure, "if you don't want to talk that's fine."
"No!" I gasp, "That's not what I meant at all! I'm sorry!"
He laughs, "It's okay. So I can save your number then?"
"Yes, of course you can."
I can feel the smile in my words, and a sudden shyness creeps over me.
Don't jump to conclusions. A phone call does NOT mean he likes you.
Something suddenly occurs to me, "How did you get my number, anyway?"
"It wasn't hard," he says, "I only had to ask Marc, who asked Drew."
At least Drew won't press me for details.
"Yeah, I'm pretty suave once you get to know me."
Suave? I giggle.
"Is there anything underneath all that charm? Or just an empty library?" I tease.
"Why don't you just wait and find out?" he challenges.
"Maybe it'll be a waste of time."
"That would be unfortunate for you, then. The choice is entirely yours."
"Hmmm… I guess I'll just have to take that risk then."
We laugh, and this is how it all begins. A banter of words back and forth between a girl nobody noticed, and a boy who didn't mold to her assumptions. It's innocent enough, but as the conversation stretches across the hours, I sink deeper into the quicksand. For once, I don't care.
I save Evan's number, but I never need to use it. He calls every day when he can, and we talk for as long as possible. Sometimes minutes, other times hours. I talk through meals, and eat when I can between calls. Things that were once necessities, like my ipod and computer, sit untouched most days, and only receive use when I need distraction from waiting for my phone to ring again.
Days pass, one right after the other, turning into a week; slowly becoming two. I can hardly separate the days; nothing is significant in them, only the calls that wake me from dreaming. Exactly two weeks after Evan first called me, he dives into conversation, not even bothering with the small talk that usually paints the beginning of our chats – how are you? What were you doing before I called? – instead he is urgent.
"Can I ask you a question?"
You just did.
"Of course, what is it?"
He hesitates, "I was wondering about something we discussed."
"Does our agreement on not seeing each other still stand? Or was that just for when we didn't know each other?"
He's asking if I want to see him.
"I-I don't know," I stutter, "I hadn't really thought about it."
"Oh. Well, what do you think now then? Would you consider it?"
I pause, "Yes, you'd only have to ask to see me."
"Okay," he says, "then I'm asking. Do you want to do something Saturday?"
"Sure, what did you have in mind?"
"I don't know, nothing big. The park maybe?"
"Sounds good to me."
With my answer, we set off planning. When we will meet, what exact location, what we will do.
"What we do best," he says.
When I hang up the phone I'm suddenly nervous. What if we can't talk in person? What if we peaked on the phone and that's it? As much as I'm afraid, it's nothing compared to the excitement.
Be careful, this could lead to disappointment.
As has been the trend lately, I ignore my thoughts, and settle into preparing to see Evan two days from now.
The sun is shining brightly as I make my way toward the park just a block away from my house. Lawn mowers are running in the distance, fathers cutting grass on their day off, pre-teen boys trying to make a quick buck. It's a beautiful day in general, and is only made more appealing by the thought of what the day may hold.
I'm fifteen minutes early, so I get as comfortable as possible on the cement stage where Evan is to meet me. The warm concrete gives me chills, but it feels wonderful on my back as I lay gazing at the clouds. A light breeze ruffles my hair, and I push it away where it tickles my nose. The breeze pushes the clouds onward, herds of sheep passing slowly across the sky. I lose sense of time, lost in the shapes and figures I see. It seems only seconds pass before I hear footsteps coming to a stop beside me. I turn slowly to see Evan standing beside me smiling sheepishly.
"I'm sorry I'm late," he says.
I glance on the clock on my phone; he's right on time.
"It's fine, you're not late, I just got here early."
Slowly, I sit up to face him, the blood rushing to my head as I do so. I blink against the black spots forming over my vision, gradually they disappear, and I can finally see Evan clearly.
I was right about his eyes; they're a light green which is made more vivid by the contrast of his brown hair mixed with the sunlight. Suddenly I realize I didn't get a good look at him at the fire. The perfect curves of his lips that were hidden by the shadows then now appear. He's not a pretty boy by any means, nothing about him screams drop dead gorgeous, yet still I can't look away. Something about him stops my heart dead in its tracks, and the smile spreading over his face does nothing to help it.
This can only end in tears.
"To the benches?" he asks.
I nod, jumping up to lead the way. My eyes fix themselves on a bench at the far end of the pond, but I can feel Evan's eyes traveling over my face. Maybe he's disappointed, he didn't get a very good look at me the first time either. Fear begins to fan out inside of me.
He only wants to be friends; he doesn't care what you look like.
"You're awfully quiet," Evan says as we take a seat on the bench, "Are you having second thoughts?"
"Not at all. Are you?"
I'm afraid to know the answer, and my stomach churns I wait for Evan to speak.
He smiles, "I'm not letting you off that easy, sorry."
Relief washes over me, "Damn, I'll just have to try harder."
"Do your worst," he teases me.
Eventually we fall into our easy stream of conversation we're so used to. I tell him about my mom's latest antics, company number one million she plans to start but never will. He tells me about his brother's latest run in with the law, and how he managed to wiggle himself out of it this time. Apparently Evan's not the only person in his family with charm on his side.
"But I only use my powers for good," he tells me, his crooked smile spreading into a full blown one.
"Good to know," I say grinning.
The wind picks up for a brief moment, making my hair fly every which way. I scowl as I try to push it down, and Evan starts laughing uncontrollably.
"I don't see what's so funny," I grumble.
The wind dies down and I try to right my hair; it isn't an easy task.
"I'm sorry," Evan says, still laughing, "but your expression was priceless."
He begins to help me pick through my hair, helping me to return it to its original state. When all is back to normal, he tucks a final lock behind my ear, and I fight the blush creeping into my cheeks. His fingers linger at my jaw a moment longer than can be ignored. I turn to look at him, unsure of what to say. I blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.
"I forgive you."
He looks confused, "For what?"
"Laughing at me," I tell him smiling.
He doesn't return it, and I'm not even sure he heard me. For once, I'm the one smiling at a scowling face; I have all the luck. I decide to try a different approach. My hand shakes as I reach toward the corner of his mouth. I pull it up with my index finger, trying to induce a smile; instead Evan draws away from my touch.
Now you've done it.
"I'm sorry," I sputter, "I'll give you some space."
My legs move quickly toward a bench a few yards away, and I sit with my back to where I just came from. I bite down on my lip to stop the tears forming in my eyes. My arms grasp my legs as I curl myself into a ball. How could things have gone wrong so fast?
"Abby?" I hear Evan beside me. Funny, I hadn't heard him walk up. He takes a seat on the space next to where my feet are on the bench. His hand reaches out and touches my arm gently.
"I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to be rude."
"It's okay," I mutter.
"No it's not," he shakes his head.
I lower my knees, "What's wrong?"
He hesitates, "Well, I kind of have a problem."
"What is it?"
"You're going to think it's ridiculous."
I pause, "I doubt it, but you'll never know unless you tell me."
"I really want to prove you wrong on your previous assumptions of guys, but…"
My heart is pounding. Great, here it comes, rejection. Go ahead, say it. "But I just can't make myself like you enough to stick around." Say it.
"I really want to do something, please don't take this the wrong way."
I can't even get the words out before he covers my mouth with his. It takes me a second to realize what's going on, but when I do; I close my eyes and kiss him back. It starts soft, and slowly builds into something fierce, a shared longing bouncing back and forth between us. My heart pounds hard, and I'm sure it doesn't know what to do with the excess emotions spreading through my body. Evan's hands tangle in my hair, pulling me closer to him. I comply, placing my hands on either side of his face; a gentle death grip. It takes me more than a couple of minutes to realize where we are, and it takes everything I have to pull away and face him.
I allow my forehead to rest against his, and as I stare into his eyes, I realize how suddenly things have changed. After this, we can never go back, can never have what was. We can only work with what is and what could be. Though the thought should terrify me, I'm completely content, and nothing can compare to what I feel in this moment.
Weeks pass like this, where we spend hours on the phone saying everything, and hours in person letting our actions speak for themselves. Nothing in my life has ever been as good as this, my moments with Evan are completely blissful, and still something tugs on the back of my mind.
He's not yours.
Though we spend most of our time together in one form or another, he does not belong to me. There's nothing to keep him from being with someone else if he wants to. I have no hold on him as he has no hold on me, but the difference is, I won't stray, because I want more. I'm just not sure he feels the same.
You'll never know if you don't ask.
But asking could ruin it all. Would it be worth it?
Not asking will only prolong the end. All things end eventually. It's better to know.
As much as I don't want to, I resolve to discuss things with Evan. Who knows, he might feel the same, he might want to make it official as well. I can only hope for that much. Though it would be easier to do over the phone, I text Evan and ask him to meet me at the park.
I'm all butterflies as I walk to meet Evan. What will I say? How will I say it? What will I do if he rejects me? There's no way to prepare for it, I'll just have to deal with what I get. Good or bad, I'll make it through.
This time he's there before I am, sitting on the stage, looking up at the sky. When he looks at me, my heart stutters, and I'm not sure I can go through with this. I've never had much courage, and even asking Evan to be here is more than what I would've done in the past. Still, I can't settle. I can't pat myself on the back and say, "at least you tried, love." No, if I don't do this now, I surely never will.
"Hey," Evan says smiling, "You wanted to talk?"
I can't find my voice, so I force myself to nod.
"What is it?" he asks, now sounding concerned.
My voice struggles to come out, barely above a whisper.
"Um… well, first I wanted to know how you feel about me."
He looks startled, "Well… I thought you knew, I mean, it's kind of obvious. But if you need to hear it, I'll tell you."
I gulp, forcing myself to continue, "Okay."
He takes a deep breath, "I like you, a whole lot more than just a little bit. I've never cared this much about anyone, and I've never been happier than I am when I'm with you. I don't know what I'd do without you."
A new hope surges in me, and suddenly I feel foolish for being afraid. We could be happy; we could belong to each other. I can do this.
"Why did you want to know all of a sudden?" he asks, hitting me hard.
I hesitate, "What do you mean?"
"We've been hanging out for a few weeks now, why did you never think to ask before?"
He has a point.
"In all honesty, it never occurred to me to ask until now."
To find out if I'm wasting my time.
"Okay…" he says, sounding unsure, "you said that was the first thing you wanted to know, what's the next?"
I swallow hard, afraid of what might be coming. My lips spit out the words in a hurry.
"If you care about me so much, why haven't you asked me out yet?"
His eyes widen, and time seems to slow. Evan doesn't open his mouth to answer, and soon, too much time passes for me to ignore it. My heart is throbbing in my ears; I can't read his expression, and it isn't hard to understand what that means.
No answer is your answer. Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?
My eyes fill with tears, and I need to get out of here before they escape me.
"Right then," I choke, before turning and bolting for the opposite direction. Someone's calling my name, but I can't bring myself to do anything but keep moving. My phone starts buzzing, and I shut it off without even bothering to look at the screen. The world blurs around me. It's over, quicker than I could have imagined. No long explanations like in the movies, nothing dramatic like in the books I read. Just simple, and straight through me.
I get home and walk blindly through my house, not needing to see the route to my room. Seconds after I plop onto my bed, my door opens again and I hear Kara's voice breaking through my sobs.
"Tell me what happened."
When I open my eyes, it's dark outside, and the dream lingers behind my vision. My heart still feels worn, but my tears are gone, and with them a small weight. Slowly, I sit up, glancing around my room, wishing I knew what time it was. I find a tray with some food sitting next to my bed, and I turn on my lamp to read the note my mom left me.
I'm so sorry, honey. I wish I could be here when you wake up, but I have other things to attend to. Everything will work out for the best, I promise.
All My Love,
I fold the note and slip it into my nightstand with all the other ones she's written me over time. Ignoring the sandwich and glass of water, I turn and flop back onto my bed. Reluctantly I grab my phone to check the time. I hold down the power button and wait for it to boot up. The small numbers read 9:47pm for the split second before my phone is bombarded with messages. All twelve texts are from earlier in the day, each from Evan, each saying something similar – "come back, I need to explain". His one voicemail was sent the minute I was out of his sight. None of them have been sent any later than five.
Maybe he decided you're not worth it.
I feel like crying again, but it's getting easier to suppress the urge. A few deep breaths later I'm right as rain, and my body feels like a huge lump of nothing.
This won't last forever, but find comfort in the fact that this is the worst it will ever be.
Things will be better, I will be stronger; I'm better as an island. There are stories where the heroine emerges alone, victorious despite the walls that stood in her way. I suppose even damsels in distress can find their way without a prince, they only need to open their eyes and look.
Sometimes we have to save ourselves.
I sigh and wrap my arms around myself, still clutching tight to my phone. No more than a minute later, it's buzzing in my hand. I raise it slowly, already knowing who the message is from. I hesitantly hit the "okay" button to open it, and one lonely word flashes over the screen.
It hits me hard, and I don't know whether to cry or scream. My head is clouded by dos and don'ts, by what I want to do and what I should do. I should just ignore him, let him go and get on with life. At the same time, I want to know what's so important he had to send message after message for. In the end, curiosity wins, as it always does with me. I don't have to do much to call Evan – hit send, down arrow, send – and my heart thumps as the phone rings. On the second ring he answers.
"ABBY?!" his voice is anxious.
"Uh-huh," I reply weakly.
He doesn't wait for my reply, he hangs up and I hear a car door close on the street outside of my house. I don't want to, but I pull myself out of bed drag my body through my house. I walk past the mirrors without looking; I don't care what I look like. When I open the front door, night air rushes in, knocking me off balance. It's cold, but I can't be bothered to grab a coat, better to get this done and over with.
Kara's standing on the lawn yelling into the night.
"Haven't you done enough damage?! She cried for hours! Why don't you just leave?"
Evan's standing on the grass by his car, slowly backing away in retreat. In a minute he'll be gone, and this will be over with. I won't have to fight myself, and the decision will be made for me. Evan's words will be left unsaid, I'll never have to hear them echoing in my head; it would be as easy as breathing. Will not knowing kill me? Probably not. But it will haunt me, and that's enough.
"Kara, stop!" I cry hoarsely, "Thank you, but please, go inside."
She looks at me incredulously, but she doesn't argue. If this ends badly, Kara probably won't be on my side, she'll be bitter enough to hold something like this against me. She brushes my arm, jolting me on her way in, and I barely catch the words she hisses through her teeth, "I hope you know what you're doing."
I take a deep breath before crossing the lawn. Evan looks a wreck, and though that should make me feel better, it doesn't. My feet shuffle through the wet grass and I wrap my arms around each other for warmth. I stop five feet away from him and wait for him to speak his peace.
"I came here to apologize," he says softly, "I'm so sorry."
I hope you feel better, because I definitely don't.
I nod slowly, "It's fine. I'm fine."
A cheap lie, but at least it will move things along. The truth won't help me now.
"No, it's not. It's inexcusable."
I nod again, what can I say?
"You caught me off guard," he murmurs, "I didn't know that's what you wanted; I wasn't prepared for you to ask me that. That doesn't excuse the fact that I just stood there like an idiot."
"No, it doesn't," I say.
"I had always just assumed you didn't want anything serious with me. I was so convinced that I didn't even allow myself the prospect of anything more. At the time I wasn't even sure what you were asking me. Maybe you were just clarifying the terms of the relationship we have, maybe you wanted something more. You asking me out made it real, and I struggled with the truth."
My head is in a daze, "And what is the truth, Evan?"
"The truth is, I would love more than anything to be with you. I would love to belong to you, Abigail."
"You're not just saying that because you feel bad, are you?" I ask skeptically.
"I would never just say it and not mean it. If it weren't true, would he be here?" he stops to measure my reaction before continuing, "I want to do this right, so don't laugh at me if it sounds cheesy."
"Okay," I whisper, my lips trembling.
This is it, the first day of ever after.
"Abigail," he starts, "will you be my girlfriend?"
My heart stops, my brain struggles to grasp the words.
"What? Say that again."
He chuckles, "I said 'will you be my girlfriend?'"
Yes, he said it.
I smile, "You know the answer."
"I want you to say it."
"Yes," I say softly, "I will belong to you."
The smile spreading over Evan's face brings my heart back to life. I close the space between us and stop just an inch from him.
"You're sure about this?" I ask.
"As sure as I'll ever be," he murmurs.
And that's all I need to hear. I put my hands on either side of Evan's face, and meet his lips with mine. He slides his arms around my waist and as he kisses me gently, the world swirls around us. History is rewritten; we are no longer unwanted.
Our story may not ever be retold. There are no dragons, no wizards, and no evil queens; the magic isn't as obvious as a frog turning into a prince, but it's there nevertheless, just underneath the surface. I'm not a beautiful princess and Evan may never be prince charming, and we'll probably never live in a castle. Every day we share will be imperfect; we'll have conflicts great and small, and some days we'll probably even hate each other. But despite all these things, our love will prosper, and we'll live happily ever after.