The meal had been wonderful, and as Shane walked her to the car, Eve couldn't help but feel the light-headedness that came from just a tad too much wine. She sighed happily, as Shane opened the door and helped her inside.
He'd had half a glass right before they had eaten, and hadn't touched anymore. She was more than happy with that, although she always felt a bit self-conscious when she was the only one drinking.
Shane hadn't let her even glance at the bill.
"Thank you," she said. "For tonight. It was lovely."
"You going to come back to mine? Could watch a film."
"Just like old times?"
He chuckled. "Sure. Just like old times."
"Sounds good." And it did. She liked the idea of just acting like the things were as they always had been, of returning to a time that was much less complicated.
They soon pulled up at his, and once more he helped her out of the car and walked her to the door. Shane fished his keys from his pocket, unlocked the door and ushered Eve inside. She went into the living room as he headed for the kitchen, calling over his shoulder, asking what she wanted to drink.
"Got another bottle of wine here, if you want some."
"Yes, please," she called back, smiling as she sank into the sofa. Shane returned with the bottle and two glasses, placing them on the small coffee table.
"What do you want to watch?"
They scoured through his DVD collection, Eve frowning at the ones she didn't recognise.
"Rock of Ages," she muttered. "What's that?"
"Cheesy, tongue in cheek musical," Shane replied, shrugging. "Can't think of any other way to describe it. All classic rock music."
"A jukebox musical?"
"Like, you know, Mamma Mia. Taking existing songs and creating a story around them."
"Oh, yeah. It's that sort of thing." He glanced down at the CD case that contained the DVDs. "You want to watch it?"
Shane put it on, before settling back onto the sofa with his arm around Eve. She remained sitting upright, rather than leaning on him like she used to. She ignored the glances he sent her way, and the slight pull he gave every so often. Through it all, as she sipped her wine, she remained upright.
He never said anything about it, but he didn't need to. At times, as the characters on screen sang familiar songs, she contemplated telling him that right then, she just didn't feel right returning instantly to the same comfortable, physical intimacy that had once come so easily to them.
There was something she couldn't quite identify clouding her mind, something she couldn't put her finger on stopping her from letting her body relax into his. The words from her notebook kept floating back into her mind, a constant reminder that there were so many things she just couldn't remember.
Lost memories floated just out of reach, and every time she thought she'd grasped onto one, it seemed to slip through her fingers like sand.
She didn't know what she was supposed to do.
The film finished, and Shane left the sofa, kneeling in front of the TV to take the DVD out of the player. She found herself staring at his back, realising she'd barely watched any of it.
His muscles were tense beneath his t-shirt.
"Yeah?" He whirled around quickly, smiling softly at her.
"Nothing." She dipped her head, staring down at her hands resting in her lap, ignoring the flicker of confusion in his face.
Before she could fully compose her thoughts, he was back, sitting beside her, throwing his arm around her shoulders. This time, she didn't have time to resist. Before she could tense herself up, he'd pulled her so her head was on his chest.
She felt his lips plant a soft kiss on her head, and closed her eyes, relishing it for just a moment.
"Eve?" he whispered. "You okay?"
"Sure," she muttered, even as she tried to untangle the real answer in her own head. Part of her wanted desperately to ask him what exactly had happened before the accident, but she couldn't bring herself to put the words out there.
Another kiss on her head.
"I missed you."
She didn't reply. She could almost feel it between them, a gulf, a shadow, something that had wedged itself in place and refused to budge.
Eve wanted to cry, to weep and mourn for things lost that she couldn't remember.
But she didn't.
Instead, she shifted herself and moved away from his chest, twisting her body to look at him. His arm dropped.
"I'm sorry," she said, though she couldn't have explained what exactly she was sorry for. "Shane, I'm sorry. I just…I'm still struggling, with everything, and I…"
"It's okay," he replied, inching closer to her. "You don't have to apologise, okay? Or explain or justify." The smile on his face was the same smile she had fallen in love with so easily, but her heart refused to beat madly at the sight of it anymore, her knees remained steady. Her world didn't light up with the sight of him as it once had.
Something had changed, had mutated beyond her control, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Eve reached for him, putting her hand on his cheek. "It's going to take some time."
"I know." He closed his eyes, and she wondered if he was relishing the feel of her hand. "I missed you," he repeated.
"I didn't go anywhere."
His eyes opened, fixing on the not-quite-real smile on her face. He smiled back, reaching up and taking her hand in both his own, lowering it. "You tired, babe?"
She nodded, but with the nod came a pang of fear mixed with guilt. When they had first started dating, he used to ask the same question, only to have her reply with a slightly cheeky, "Not really. But bed sounds good."
They'd make their way upstairs, tangled in each other, as she breathed in his scent, as he planted kisses on every inch of skin he could get to. They rarely made it to his bedroom fully clothed.
Now, he helped her up the stairs, him just behind her, her hand on the rail. She could feel his hand on the small of her back through the material of her t-shirt, could almost feel the longing in it to climb upwards.
She went into the bathroom first, brushed her teeth, washed her face, and stared at herself in the mirror.
It was no wonder her mother kept trying to feed her. Even her face looked thin, though she was starting to regain some of the flesh in her cheeks. She stepped back, allowing her shoulders and down to just past her neck to fill the mirror. She had no doubt that it wouldn't be long before she was back to a normal weight, back to at least looking normal.
But there was something different in her face that wasn't just to do with the lack of food.
The important nightly routine used to be done at Shane's as an afterthought, if at all. Too often, she had fallen asleep with his arms wrapped around her, forgetting to brush and wash. If she did, when she stood in front of the mirror, she usually saw herself as happy, smiling, eyes bright.
Now, her eyes seemed to have dimmed and her mouth was set in a not-too-happy line. Not exactly a frown, but still…
She turned away from the mirror, made her way back to Shane's room. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, glancing up only when she walked in. Shane flashed her a quick smile, stood, and stepped towards her. After planting a quick kiss on her cheek, he headed for the bathroom. Eve waited for the door to close behind him, before glancing around the room.
It hadn't changed.
He still had the same covers over his bed, the furniture hadn't been moved, and she assumed the clothes were in the same places, too. Quickly, she headed for the chest of drawers and yanked open the top one. His clothes were folded neatly. Her hands dipped in, pulling out a pair of boxers before she went into the next drawer and found one of his old, baggy t-shirts. Wasting no time she got changed into them, folding up her own clothes and putting them beside the bed before crawling in.
Eve heard the door open, and closed her eyes, feigning sleep as Shane turned the light off and climbed into bed beside her.
She tried not to stiffen when he put an arm around her, pulling her close.
X X X
The car ride back to her house was made in silence. Neither of them said anything until he pulled up and glanced at her.
"You want to come in?" she asked, fixing another forced smile on her face. He studied her, before reaching up and brushing her hair back behind her ear.
"Better not." He leant towards her. Eve turned her head at the last second, felt his lips brush her cheeks.
Shane said nothing.
"See you soon," she muttered, opening the door and climbing out. Shane went to get out, but she waved him off, opening the back door and quickly retrieving her crutches.
The walking was getting easier every day.
She just wished everything else worked out that way, too.
Eve didn't look back when she reached the door. As she unlocked it, she heard the car drive away. The heat from inside the house blasted out, and she forced herself to step inside, leaning against the door as she listened out for any sounds of her family.
Her ears picked up on the sound of the television in the living room, the shuffling of her mother in the kitchen, footsteps upstairs.
At the end of the hall, the kitchen door opened. Her mother stood there, smiling at her.
"Hello, dear," she said, as Eve smiled. "How was your night?"
"Good," she lied, still smiling as she moved towards the kitchen. "Something smells good."
"I'm doing stew for tea," her mother admitted, stepping back to allow Eve in. "You going to be around for it?"
She moved to the back of the room, dropping into one of the chairs around the small table. "Yeah, sure."
"What about Shane? Think he'll want to come over for some?"
"I doubt it, but I'll ask him."
"Okay, dear. What are your plans for the day?"
She shrugged, glancing at the clock. It was barely gone eleven; the whole day stretched before her, hours of endless time to kill. "I don't know."
"Well, Wizard of Oz is on at twelve. I'm sure your father wouldn't mind if we put that on."
"Sure." It had terrified her as a kid, scared the living crap out of her so much that she barely even look at a monkey without the witch's voice screaming "Fly, my pretties," in her head. She'd thrown all her monkey teddies into the closet, kept them locked up for fear they would sprout wings and carry her off to Oz. Then, when she was in her early teens, she'd seen it again and laughed at how stupid she had been.
"What do you want for lunch?" her mother asked, smiling gently at her.
"Don't mind. A sandwich will do."
"Okay." Her mother's eyes flickered to the clock on the wall. "Come on."
The two made their way into the living room, where Eve's father sat in his armchair, flicking through the newspaper. He glanced up, smiled at them, and returned his attention to the paper.
Eve sat on the sofa beside her mother, who chatted happily about the latest town gossip, filling Eve in on various family friends and who her father wasn't talking to this week.
And, for the first time since she'd come home, Eve actually felt kind of normal.