Authors: Lila Felix
She started to walk away and then came back and took the shears from my hands, making me turn in her direction. She grabbed the sides of my shirt and kissed me so hard, I thought she wasn’t ever coming back.
“Call or text me when you get home, ok?” I choked out.
“I will.” After she left I cleaned up my room a bit and did all my laundry I finished up her messenger bag. I wanted her to have it for when she went back to school.
I got the last load of laundry from the dryer and brought it upstairs. I could hear my phone ringing from my room. I threw the clothes on the bed and answered it.
“Hi Breaky. How’ve you been?” My throat constricted but from somewhere I got a surge of courage and actually spoke back to her.
“I’m well Holly. Why are you calling me? Memphis didn’t get enough information from me?” I did a little fist pump in the air.
“I just wanted to check in on you. I heard you were still staying in your house all the time.”
“No. Ash and I have gone all kinds of places. Not that I have to explain anything to you.”
She giggled, “Aww, you don’t miss me Breaky?” A few weeks ago, six months ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to tell her how much I missed her. But Ash had changed everything.
“No, I really don’t, Holly. I don’t miss the way you used to chastise me. Or the way you stole from me and cheated on me. And I especially don’t miss the way you made me feel like a piece of shit. But I forgive you, because you’re a wench who’s never gonna amount to anything. Did you call for anything else or can I get back to my girlfriend?”
She scoffed and stumbled over something unintelligible. I’d stumped her.
“Go to Hell, Holly. Don’t call back again and don’t send Memphis over here to snoop.”
I hung up on her for good.
“Maybe he just hates grocery stores. Don’t assume, you make an ass out of you and me.” Her sage wisdom was now being given to me in lame quotes.
“You’re already an ass.” I said in between sips of smoothie. She made me go somewhere healthy since she was trying to lose weight again or that’s what she said. She got awfully jumpy when I mentioned going out for coffee.
“Tell him you got your period and he needs to go get you some tampons.” She shrugged one shoulder smugly as if she’d just found the answer to world hunger.
“Number one: Eeeww. Number Two: Eeeww. Number Three: I’m such a pompous ass for testing him. I mean, who am I to judge?”
“Because you love him and you don’t want to be another hang-up. You want him to get better. And if he’s leeching himself onto you, then he’s not getting better. And what kind of future do you have with a leech?”
An image of a wedding chapel entered my mind, me walking down the aisle to a tux clad leech with suckers out, ready to bury itself in my skin.
“I never said I loved him.”
“Sure, you did, just not with words.”
“I can’t handle all your Lifetime Network euphemisms today Steph. Anyway, I’m doomed no matter what. He’s probably gonna break it off with me when he finds out about Mrs. Collins’ and our deal.”
“You’re such a Debbie Downer lately. I’ve got an idea, let’s go to the mall and ride the carousel like a bunch of idiots.”
“You just wanna go to the mall.”
We shopped until we were both exhausted and I’d spent way too much money. I bought Breaker clothes, something I’d never done for a guy before. When I was cleaning his room, I picked up some of his clothes off of his bed and checked the sizes, just for future reference.
I got him some mall food to go since the last time I bought him some he was being a jerk wad. And he had more news coming. I was gonna make him go camping the next night on Grand Isle. I laughed, “He’s gonna be so pissed.”
I went home and straight to my room. I threw my bags on the bed and noticed something wrapped in tissue paper with a note on top. I read the note first.
I’ve been making this for you for a while. Finally finished it tonight. Did something amazing while you were gone. Cant’ wait to tell you. Love you, Breaker.
I unwrapped the tissue paper and wondered where he got it from. Inside the paper was a brown bag, a messenger bag, with orchids stamped and cut into the leather. It must’ve taken him days and countless hours to complete it. And my name was intricately pressed in the center all flared letters and fancy script. No one had ever made me something so precious.
I called him, I knew it was lazy of me, but I didn’t care.
“Are you home?” I loved how eager he always sounded but a part of me cocked its eyebrow at it.
“Yeah, come down here, I’ve got stuff for you.”
“On my way,” he answered.
I opened the door to my bedroom and he was there within minutes. I jumped over to him and practically linebacked him with a hug around his torso. He chuckled, “Do you like it,” he asked as he nodded towards the bag still on my bed.
“I do. It must’ve taken a lot of time. Thank you so much.”
“It was worth it,” He kissed my forehead like it was just something he did and I finally let go.
“Ok,” I clapped my hands and rubbed them together, “most importantly, I got you mall food. It’s in the kitchen. And secondly, I bought you clothes.”
He took a step back, “You bought me clothes.” He didn’t look pleased. In fact, I would’ve said he bordered on fear.
I bought him three pairs of jeans and two button down shirts and a couple of t-shirts. And I bought him a hat since I’d never seen him wear one and didn’t know if it was a lack of them or he just didn’t like them. So I took the chance.
I looked back to him and his face had changed to relief.
“If you don’t like them, I can return them,” I offered.
“No, this is really great. Thank you. How’d you know what size?”
“I have my ways. Now what amazing thing happened while I was gone?”
Please let it be that he went somewhere by himself or did something that would help my case.
“Holly called,” He was grinning so wide.
“That’s not really what I call amazing news.”
He got close to me and said, “I told her to go to Hell. I told her not to call back ever again. And I told her to quit sending Memphis around here to check on me.”
He was so damned proud of himself and I was too.
“I’m proud of you. Did you mean it or did you just say it?”
“I meant every word. I’m ready to move forward—with you.”
We made an attempt to go camping the next day but the rain hadn’t let up and it ruined all my plans.
The next couple of days went slowly for me. The few days before my birthday were always heavy since it was when my mother had died. I kept as busy as I could, cleaning and re-cleaning. I even spent one entire day pulling out each book from the library, dusting every shelf, and then replacing all the books in alphabetical order.
I’d gone to dinner with my dad and Patty the night before the fourth. Patty was a plump woman with dark brown almost black hair like mine, and her resemblance to my mother was uncanny. She was funny. She and my dad held hands the whole time and I’d caught her blush—a lot. It was good to see my dad happy. He gave me a gift card to Target, he was always so bad at buying me gifts. They barely noticed me leaving, still so wrapped up in each other.
I got home and Breaker sat on the back porch with tons of citronella torches lit up around him. If you were going to sit outside in the Louisiana summer, the torches were a nice thought, but they really didn’t do shit. I walked outside to join him. I sat on his lap and while he squeezed me and greeted me with kisses to my neck, his eyes mirrored that of the old Breaker, the one I looked back at the day I interviewed here.
“What’s wrong,” I asked.
He schooled his face into a bogus joy, but I knew better.
“I’m fine. How was dinner with your dad?” He changed the subject on purpose, changed it, but I didn’t forget.
“It was great. Patty is great. She and my dad are all googly eyed like teenagers. It’s nice to see him happy. I thought I might be pissed at her or weirded out by them together but I wasn’t.”
“I’m glad. I want you to have a great birthday.”
“You know what would make my birthday perfect?”
“Waking up in the library.”
He let out a long sigh and I knew something was going on.
“Tell me what’s happening, Breaker. All this sighing, it’s killing me.”
“I’m just tired. Why don’t you go get ready for bed and I’ll set us up for sleeping in the library. Ok?”
I answered him, “Ok.” He’d just lied to me; I just knew it and the betrayal ignited a flame of resentment. I’d never once lied to him and I actually had something to lie about. Maybe he did too.
I went to my bedroom and changed into a pair of pajama pants and a tank. I brushed my teeth and threw my hair up in a ponytail. I heard him bustling upstairs, bringing blankets and probably music to our little haven. He had everything done by the time I reached the library and stood at the window, looking out, the chagrin still on his face.
“You should probably stop lying to me now so we can both get some sleep.”
He didn’t budge and I could see how rigid his posture was. Something was definitely up. I walked up to him and attempted to soothe his stress. I snaked my arms around his torso and pressed myself against his back. Instantly, he breathed out a great sigh and it evolved his posture from stiff to ease.
“Just tell me. Unless you don’t trust me.”
“Most people just let me brood when I get this way. Why can’t you just let me be?”
“I’m sorry. I thought I was more than most people—my mistake.”
I started to walk away but he caught my arm. “Don’t . You are everything. You know that. I’m just not used to anyone sticking around to actually see if something is going on. They just usually assume that it’s some wild hair, attached to my sanity that either needs to be plucked or tamed. So they leave it to me, so they don’t get tangled in it.”