It almost didn’t matter, almost.
It was foolish of him to think that he could try to change me, and even more foolish that I thought I could do the same to him. People are how they always were and how they always will be – change only occurs when it benefits them, not those who surround them.
That’s why I felt like a complete fool, standing there, expecting him to come with me. I even went so far as to hold out my hand, offer up the last thing that I had to give: my dignity. He shot me down, letting me feel the deep burn of shame as I replaced that hand with a finger and stormed off. The ring of his laughter stung deep as I pushed open the door and let the bitter cold of the wind rush against my face, breathing it in for all it was worth, and it wasn’t worth a damn. Somewhere in the back of my mind I hoped that he would follow me, run after me and scoop me up in some senseless apology that would fix it, even if just for the night. My heart craved the idea and it made my stomach churn.
I cursed out loud as I remembered that he had driven us there. I would have to walk home, the only blessing in the situation was that I lived only a few miles away. It wasn’t worth calling someone to come to my rescue; I’d given up on needing someone to save me. Pulling my jacket a little tighter, I started my track across the frozen ground, fuming with every step that I took.
It did not take long to get home, or at least it did not feel like it did. I immediately got to work. Before I knew it, I had almost everything packed away half-hazard in boxes, my i-pod blaring songs that seemed to fit my emotions perfectly, and had finished off a bottle of wine.
I picked up my phone and dialed a number that my heart would never let me forget. Punching in the numbers slowly, my heart ached – just for a second, before he answered the phone in a whisper, “Hey you.”
“Hey,” I said, a sigh of relief escaping, turning it into a much softer greeting than I had planned.
“What’s going on?”
“Can you…” another sigh, “Can you just come over?”
“Of course,” I could hear him rolling out of his bed, reaching for his clothes that he had more than likely draped over the edge of the nightstand, sitting there ready for the next day. There were still things about him that were easily predictable, “Need anything?”
He showed up with a sad smile and an amused sparkle in his eye, holding up the bag that held my final decision in the matter in one hand and a bottle of my favorite wine in the other, “When do we start?”
“Would it come off as too anxious if I were to say right now?”
“Of course not,” his smile grew as he pulled out the new lock and I took off to the kitchen with the bottle of wine. By the time I had returned with two glasses threatening to spill over the rim, he had already managed to get the old lock removed from the door and was in the process of opening the packaging to the new one.
He was humming to himself as I handed him the wine, “At least I got a prettier handle than the old one.”
I inspected it as he put it in, filling the empty space that was there in more than one way. I couldn’t help but smile myself.
Once he finished putting the lock in, we got to the busy work of carefully placing boxes out in the outdoor hallway and stacking them as high as we dared to avoid cluttering and having the neighbors complain too much. It did not take as long as I had expected it to, the extra pair of strong hands was greatly appreciated.
I poured us each another glass of wine before settling on the couch under a blanket. He walked over and sat down next to me and it did not take more than a few minutes for us to be comfortably tangled up, laughing and swapping stories.
Things were back to normal.
Sometime in the early hours of the morning, his head resting comfortably in my lap, eyes closed, breathing even and soft, I heard footsteps dragging up the stairs outside. I sucked in my own breath as I heard the steps stop, and all that I could do was picture him taking in the sight of all the boxes stacked outside of what was now just my apartment door. A jingle of keys as he struggled to find the right one in what I could only assume was a panic of frustration or despair, it was hard to tell.
He tried the lock. I could hear him fall apart – a small cry of defeat and either his fist or his head gently hitting against the door, just the one time. I shuddered with him as I heard him take in a deep, shaky breath. After a few moments, I heard more footsteps and him struggling to start bringing boxes down to his truck. Ignoring the tears that had started to stream down my face, I sat there listening until I heard the engine of his truck start back up.
I finally looked back down into my lap, he was wide awake. He smiled at me as he reached up, brushing the remaining tears off of my cheeks. I smiled back and re-positioned myself to lie beside him, his arms instantly wrapped around me and he brought his lips to where they brushed along the outer edge of my ear, “Just be mine from now on, OK?”