I always drove her home, no matter how far it was. There was a period where she was living on the other side of the city, and she was always concerned it was too out of the way, but I think I was just glad to see her. The tall streetlights ran over her in patterns, only catching parts of her at a time. I could never see all of her, and her glasses made it so her eyes were obscured as well. She didn't do it on purpose, she was just like that. She'd sit with her knees of, one hand on her body somewhere because she was restless, eyes constantly glancing out the window, though she knew what was there (only shadows on the side of the road, always).
Over the years, the front seat of my car became our comfort place – or rather, the place where I could comfort her. I'd seen her cry there after funerals, bad break-ups, and because she was so happy we both made it into university. It was only natural, I guess, that she called me up for the first time in months and asked to go for a drive when she wanted to tell me. How else could it be done?
"Hey," she said quietly when she came down from her apartment. She smelled like syrup, like she'd just been eating breakfast. Her hair was straightened (I liked it best curly), and I didn't really say anything for a while.
We hadn't seen each other in months, as I said. We both had been so busy, but when we were together, we didn't have to pretend we were close. I could still trust her. I trusted her completely when she asked me if we could go down to the docks, and in the blue light reflecting back and forth between the sky and the sea, she waited. She kept breathing, staring at her knees (where my hands and hers were), taking her time because she was fragile like that.
"It's all complicated," she said. And she said, "He wants me to marry him, and move to England so he can work there."
The lake seemed small and we were so much smaller.
"Well, go," I said. "You're happy with him, aren't you?"
She nodded, and reached for me, like an infant who knew no other way. She clung to me and got me all wet while I comforted her and the only solace I got came through that - my face was dry. It was strange, though, because I didn't want her to go, and inside pieces of me had stopped working, were falling out of place. I was smiling and touching her hair, and all I had to go home to was an empty apartment that occasionally was home to a one-night stand, and I needed her. But other people needed her, and I wanted anything but to be selfish.
"Let's go," I said, because she looked like she wanted to kiss me (you're years too late, dear).
"Anna." She grabbed at me again, and pressed her face into my shoulder. I could see the lake from where we'd parked the car, and the waves were tiny, a shifting of colour just beyond the pavement. There was a beach farther down, but it was too cold.
"I should get you home."
I drove the long way, just to make it more difficult for myself. Anna kept crying, but by that point we'd stopped touching and stopped looking at each other. By that point, it hurt to breathe.
She was gone so quickly from me…