She comes back the next morning, her brother-in-law in tow. While Cecilia isn't exactly overly fond of him, she does have to get back into her house and can't stomach going back in by herself. And to give him credit, since Johnny's death, he has been kinder, less intolerant with her.
They pull into her driveway, and she is almost relieved to see that the yellow ribbons are still on the tree. All night she wondered if she was imagining them, if that whole sequence of events had been her imagination.
Drew pulls his tiny car in behind her and walks in ahead of her, silently. If he notices the ribbons on the tree, he doesn't say anything about them, for which Cecilia is grateful.
The door opens easily, as Drew heads in. Ceclila lingers outside, under the shade of the tree. She unties one ribbon, then the next, and the next, until she holds strands of yellow silk like puddles in her hands. She stares at them for a second, then back at the tree, before following Drew inside.
The lights in the living room and kitchen, lights Cecilia did not turn on, are still blazing in the morning light. Everything is still as it should be.. except the window is closed.
She stares as it.
"Drew, that window was open last night. I went to sleep, and it was closed. I woke up, and it was open. I come back and now it's closed."
Drew raises his thick dark brows, and walks over to the window, his workboots leaving faint black footsteps on her white carpet. He pulls the window up, and then closes it again.
"It's a little loose, but I don't think it should have opened all by its self. Closed, maybe. But not open. Are you sure it was open, Cee?"
She looks at him, her blonde hair hanging in light puffs around her face, feeling like a small child. "It was."
He flicks the lock shut on top of the sill and shrugs. "Well, it's closed now. We'll keep it that way."
She stays in the living room as he goes upstairs to check the bedroom, the closets, the bathroom. Nothing.
"Maybe someone was here," he conceded, not wanting to hurt her feelings. "But you probably scared them off when you came downstairs. You sure nothings missing?"
"I'm sure," she begins, but then her gaze trails around the room, her hands restlessly turning the yellow silk over and over again in her fingers. On the mantle, there is a row of pictures, all in identical black frames, all side by side. But one is missing, blatantly missing, taken from the middle. Like a lost tooth, the mantle's grin looks foolish without it.
"A picture," she says, wonderingly, trying to remember which picture it is. And then it clicks.
"It..it was a wedding picture."
"Are you sure you didn't just move it? Maybe to make it easier on yourself?" Drew suggested, his voice carefully measured and neutral. It is clear he thinks she has lost it.
"No," she shook her head. "It was here when I left. I know it was."
Drew looks at a loss. "Well," he says, clearly anxious to leave this nutjob and return to his own home, "I'm sure it'll turn up. Are you going to be all right here?"
He's heading towards the door. Cecilia doesn't turn towards him, just nods, her vacant gaze still linger on the empty space where the picture used to be. "Yes. Thank you."
He nods, and the door clicks shut behind him.
And just like that, she's alone again.
She throws the yellow ribbons in the fire place underneath the mantle, lights a fire, pours herself a glass of white wine, and watches it burn.
She falls asleep that night in front of the fire, and for the first time since his death, she dreams of Johnny.
He is laying in their backyard, in the soft grass that cost them hundreds of dollars to lay, staring up at the night sky. Cecilia thought it was ridiculous to pay for, of all things, grass. But Johnny was from New York City, and as a child would like in the hard, stubby grass of central park, surrounded by cigarette buds and teenagers smoking weed. His grass, he insisted, would be laid on, not smoked, and it would be the softest, greenest grass on the block.
He's laying on his back, his eyes staring up at the stars, a thin blade of grass tucked gently between his lips. Wordlessly, she lays down next to him. In her dream, she is delighted to see him; her eyes rake over his face, his arms, memorizing his features, though she can't quite figure out why. It feels as though it will be a lifetime before she sees him again. Of their own accord, her fingers reach out and gently brush against the stubble on his chin.
He turns his head to look at her, and that crooked smile she loves spreads across his face. "You've got a lightening bug in your hair, Cee," he whispers, reaching over and gently picking it from her hair. He catches it in his palm, and then holding his hand out, opens his fingers. She catches a brief view of a bug, glowing in the darkness, before it flutters up and flies away. It hovers above them for a moment, glowing in the night sky, before it drifts away.
"I've missed you," Johnny says, returning his attention to the night sky above, but Cecilia keeps her gaze trained on him. "I've missed you too," Cecilia says back, but she doesn't know why. How could she miss him, when he's laying right next to her?
Without taking his eyes off the stars, Johnny gently reaches over and takes her hand; he brings it to his lips, and brushes a gentle kiss across the tips of her fingers, before enclosing his hand in hers and resting both of their hands over his heart. "I'm sorry I left you, Cee," he said. "I shouldn't have left. I didn't want to. I should have listened. I broke my promise. I'm sorry. I never wanted us to be apart."
"Leave me?" Cee responds, baffled. "But when did you leave?"
When he turns to look at her, finally, his eyes are full of tears. "I'm sorry, Cee," he says. "I should have listened. But I'm still here; you didn't loose me. You could never loose me."
Unable to stand it anyone, she leaves over to kiss him, closing her eyes; she waits for the brush of his lips against hers. But there is none.
When she opens her eyes, she's laying on the couch in their living room, the embers from the fire smoldering. She blinks, and slowly looks around, before it dawns on her again.
Her fist is resting, clenched tightly over her heart. When she opens it, a firefly drifts out.