"Good afternoon passengers. This is the pre-boarding announcement for flight 89B to Newark, New Jersey. We are now inviting those passengers with small children, and any passengers requiring special assistance, to begin boarding at this time. Please have your boarding pass and identification ready. Regular boarding will begin in approximately ten minutes time. Thank you."
Liza sat frozen in the chair of the boarding gate lounge, eyes staring off blindly into the distance. Her nails and cuticles on one hand were red and starting to bleed from constant bites from her teeth in the last few hours while the other hand was clenched into the edge of the sticky, uncomfortable blue vinyl seat cushion beneath her. There was bustling activity all around her as the other passengers from the flight began gathering their belongings, rounding up their children and extracting their boarding passes from purses, coats, pockets and carry-ons in preparation to board the plane. She didn't seem to see or notice any of it though, staying lost inside of her own thoughts that battled back and forth from one opposing side to the other.
Just get on the plane...don't think about what Lila Mae will say, what anyone'll say...don't think about the look on Harry's face.
And don't think about Victor. Don't you dare think about Victor.
It was the strongest command that her conscious kept giving her, but it also happened to be the one that Liza had been failing the most at actually obeying.
Three months. Not one answered phone call. Not one returned message. Nothing.
The voice from the gate agent came back over the intercom, but Liza paid it no mind, "Attention passengers: We are now inviting those passengers from Flight 89B to Newark, New Jersey with seats A1 to H1 to board. Will those passengers only please come forward? Please have your boarding pass and identification ready. Thank you."
How was she supposed to not think about Victor when trying to get Victor to acknowledge her existence had been nearly all she'd been doing in all the time she'd been in Los Angeles? How was she supposed to just pack up and go running home with her tail between her legs when she'd left with such confident determination? How was she supposed to just admit that she'd tried and failed- and not just at getting Victor back.
She'd lost the love and trust of her husband; shortly after sending Harry a brief text message containing her address in L.A., the divorce papers had arrived in a thick, manila envelope on the mat outside of her apartment. She shouldn't have been as shocked to see them there as she was. She shouldn't have felt as hurt that Harry had actually gone through with filing them- but she had.
She'd lost all of her self-confidence; being nineteen years old with little to no job experience didn't make for a very impressive resume. She'd had virtually no luck in applying for any job in anything but food service.
She'd even lost most of the money she'd come to town with; it turned out Los Angeles was nearly as expensive to live in as New York (though she hadn't had to worry about paying for the majority of her living expenses back then). Here, she had really and truly been all on her own; much to her dismay, she hadn't been ready for it.
"Attention passengers: We are now inviting those passengers from Flight 89B to Newark, New Jersey with seats I1 to N1 to board. Will those passengers only please come forward? Please have your boarding pass and identification ready. Thank you."
But even as bad as all of that had been, it hadn't been the worst of it for Liza. What was worse than losing her family, money and blind ambition had been the irreplaceable loss of her pride.
She'd thought she could make him love her.
There had been no evidence to support the belief. Lila Mae and her mother had tried to tell her she was wrong. Victor himself had even told her before leaving New York that it would never happen.
But Liza hadn't cared about any of that. Not when she'd succeeded at getting everything- everything else she'd set out to get for herself from the beginning.
She'd believed she could do it; she'd been convinced it would happen..
And it hadn't. It just hadn't.
Getting on that plane would mean more than just getting on a plane; it would mean admitting it- to everyone and (worst of all) to herself.
"Attention passengers: We are now inviting all remaining passengers from Flight 89B to Newark, New Jersey to board. All passengers for Flight 89B to Newark, New Jersey. Please have your boarding pass and identification ready. Thank you."
Liza shut her eyes, biting down on her lip hard and sucking in a deep breath.
Damn him. Damn, damn, damn him.
She abruptly stood up from the chair and walked out of the boarding gate lounge and down the terminal towards the nearest restroom. There was thankfully, no line and Liza was able to go right up to one of the sinks, turn on the faucet and cup her hands beneath the cold stream, splashing the collected puddle in her face. Slow, ragged breaths passed out of her mouth as she stared at her reflection in the mirror, the grief in her eyes hastily giving way to rage. The strap of her carryon slipped off her shoulder, sending the duffel bag to the floor with a dull thud as she slung her purse onto the countertop of the sinks. Yanking it open, she began throwing various objects out of it and around the sinks, not bothering to pick up the items that fell to the floor. When she finally found the cellphone, she scrolled to the only number she'd been dialing for the past few months and jammed her finger into the button, lifting the phone up to her ear as she began pacing back and forth over the floor of the restroom. It rang once...twice...three...four times, (the way it always had) before finally clicking over to the voicemail message of Victor's voice;
"Hey, it's Vic; I can't come to the phone right now, but you still know what to do."
After hearing the beep, Liza let the rage building up inside of her out, snapping through clenched teeth, "Hey asshole. Don't worry, this isn't another desperate attempt to get you to be a man. Just thought I'd let you know that I'm standin' in the terminal of LAX; I'm holdin' a plane ticket to Newark with my name on it and my flight takes off in less than ten minutes. Two very special 'friends' of yours are tyin' the knot next week and despite your and my best efforts, I've still been invited to the wedding. Have fun thinkin' about that one when you're jackin' off in bed tonight." she threw one last bitter glance at herself in the floor length mirror and bit her lip again at the tears that her reflection brought to her eyes, "And then if you're still up, you can try this one on for size: I'm three months late."
Liza hung up the phone with a resentful punch of her thumb on the phone's button, throwing it back into her purse and running her hands through her hair and holding them there for a long moment as she breathed in and out haggardly.
Over the loudspeakers of the airport, she heard a voice speaking her name, "This is the final boarding call for passenger Eliza Anne Barnes booked on flight 89B to Newark. Please proceed to Gate 3 immediately. The final checks are being completed and the captain will order for the doors of the aircraft to close in approximately five minutes time. I repeat, this is the final boarding call for Eliza Anne Barnes. Thank you."
She lingered there for a second or two longer before gathering her things and hurrying out of the restroom and down the terminal as fast as she could. Reaching the now empty gate lounge, she held up her hand and called out to the airline gate agents, "Hey! Hey, wait! I'm Liza Barnes!"
The woman standing at the podium beside the entrance to the plane tunnel, waved her over, "There you are! C'mon sweetheart, you gotta get a move on before your ride leaves without you!"
Liza was hastily rummaging through her cluttered purse, searching for her wallet to take out the license to show the gate agent when she suddenly stopped short, giving a small start.
Her cellphone was vibrating.
Her hand closed around it, flipping it around so that she could see the identity of the caller on the screen. Her heart skipped a beat and her eyes fluttered shut when she saw the name.
"Miss Barnes? Miss Barnes!" the insistent urgency in the gate agent's voice snapped her back to attention, "You're all set to go honey, hurry now!"
But Liza didn't hurry. She didn't even move. She just stood there in front of the entrance to the flight gate, staring down numbly at the vibrating cellphone in her hand, while her boarding pass and plane ticket were clenched in the other.
He was calling her. After three months, he was finally, finally calling her.
But it was too late for that now. She'd been running after Victor for three months and he hadn't given a damn. He didn't get to pretend to be concerned and suddenly acknowledge her existence just because he now knew the real reason why she'd wanted him to take her with him to California in the first place- the real reason she'd stolen away in the middle of the night like a fugitive and turned her back on her own son.
Tail between her legs or no tail between her legs, she was going home now... and nothing he could say or do would be able to change her mind about that.
Her phone vibrated in her hand again, and Liza looked down to see a text message on the screen;
Call me...we need to talk. Vic.
"Ms. Barnes, this plane's taking off, with or without you in ten have you made up your mind or not?"
Liza took in a deep breath, then let it out heavily. She squared her shoulders and nodded at the woman with a faint smile,
"Yeah." she said, "Yeah, I think I have."
A/N: Well, here we are. The real, actual end of Keith and Lila's story. I bet you weren't expecting this last bit at the end, were you lol? Just to be clear on one thing, though; N-O. I'm NOT writing another sequel on the continuation of the cliffhanger regarding Liza and Victor. The ending, although open-ended, IS an ending. I'm deciding to leave it to your own interpretations on Liza's decision. Don't be too mad at me; to be honest, I myself haven't even made up my mind as to what I think happened. I'd love to hear any of your guesses, though.
I wanted to end the story this way as a way of demonstrating the parallels between Lila and Liza's characters and their progression in both of their stories, especially since Liza left home on such a sour note. Throughout most of YRM, we've seen the ways that they contrast and compare to each other in the ways that they approach motherhood, adulthood and relationships with both good and not-so-good men. I felt compelled to carry out this comparison to (literally) the very end, and ultimately I felt like just as Lila was given this monumental choice of whether or not to leave Pelahatchie with Keith and take a step towards a new life, Liza should be presented with that same opportunity, whether for better or worse. However, since this wasn't 'Liza's' story per se, I also didn't feel as though it would be right to reveal the outcome of that choice in a story that was wholly Lila's, as I see that choice as the impetus to a whole new story in and of itself. I hope that all makes sense.
I'd really like to thank each and every one of you that have been loyal, faithful followers & reviewers of not only You'll Remember Me, but In His Arms She Fell as well. Four years is a long time to be writing, reading and interacting with the same old characters, but you guys still kept coming back for more (no matter how long it took for me to post new chapters). Your feedback and reviews have boosted my confidence as a writer to such a higher level than I ever thought possible. You guys actually made me want to pursue this as a career. I'll always be grateful for that. I really will.
I know (God, I know) it's a looooot of reading, but now that the sequel is finished maybe there are some of you that feel motivated enough to go back to the VERY beginning of In His Arms She Fell and read Keith and Lila's journey from the literal start to the literal finish we've brought it to today. I'd be interested to see and hear your reaction to their journey now that we have all in one piece and don't have to take it bit by bit.
Regardless of however much you read - whether the whole thing, or just these last couple of chapters - I'd love to hear from you guys this one last time.
Sending much love and all that fluffy stuff your way,