The bedroom door is open with the blow-up mattress that I slept on gone. The room where we spent most of our time, the room where we told each other our dreams and our hopes … gone. I close my eyes, trying to hear his voice one last time, but nothing is there. Nothing but emptiness and silence. I shut the light off before I grab the door and close it for the final time. “Coward,” I whisper, hoping Eric hears me. I turn around and wipe a tear from my face. Walking down the stairs one last time, I turn off the final light and look at the darkness.
I lock the door, making my way to the car with Blake leaning on the back trunk next to Crystal. “Here is the key.” I hand him the key to the house. “The real estate agent will stop by the firehouse at three p.m. to pick it up.” Blake is a firefighter, and he’s on shift this week. He grabs me around the neck and pulls me to his chest where I sob out the pain I’d pushed aside the past two weeks; the pain I thought was gone but was only lingering.
His arms around me comfort me till I’m spent, and my eyes are sore and heavy. “Good thing I’m coming. Who else would drive?” Crystal says as she gets on her tippy toes and kisses Blake’s cheek. “I’ll call you when we get there,” she says as she walks to the driver’s side door and gets in, leaving me standing with Blake.
“How did you do it?” I ask him, thinking of his first true love, Frankie. Francesca came into his life when he was fifteen. In high school, both of them joined the debate team. It was a friendship that blossomed into love until her cancer claimed her five years later, leaving Blake broken. He has not dated since that day. It’s as if he’s stuck in that place.
“Don’t do what I did. Don’t shut yourself off from the world. Live,” he says. “Promise me you’ll live.” I smile as I place my hands over his two hands on my cheeks. “You have to listen to me. I’m older,” he says, causing me to laugh out loud.
“Yeah, yeah,” I say to him as his hands leave my face, and I nod. “Promise me the same.” He nods at me, putting his hands in his back pockets as his green eyes still stay shaded and protected.
“Get out of here,” he says as he walks back to his truck. “See you next month for sure.” I nod at him, climbing in the passenger side.
Crystal starts the car and slides on her sunglasses. “Isn’t this just like Thelma and Louise?” she asks, and I laugh to myself.
“Can we do it without the whole driving off the cliff or shooting Brad Pitt?” I ask her as she pulls away from the curb.
“I say we still shoot Brad Pitt but don’t die either. I mean, imagine if one of us survived without the other.” She shakes her head as I lean my head on the cold window. Basking in the sun, I see a bird soaring in a circle in the sky. “I’d come back and haunt you. Just saying.” I laugh, taking my eyes off the bird to look at her. When I turn back to see where the bird went, it’s gone.
I watch the trees as we make it on the highway on our way out of town, the sign telling us they hope to see us again. “I start work next Monday,” I tell her as I take my phone out and see that my emails have gotten over ten thousand. Before all this happened, I was a highly sought-after web designer. You had a business that needed a website, you contacted me.
“So in four days,” she says. “That’s perfect. I start Monday also,” she informs me. “I spoke with them on the phone, and their practice is family run. A father and son. I spoke with the father, but I haven’t met the son yet. From what I gathered on line, they are the best in the region. It should be fun.”
After four hours of driving, we stop to get gas and use the bathroom. I grab some food for us, and we get back on the road for the rest of the journey. Having both of the windows down allows the country air to settle in with us. My hand reaches outside, and I let the wind blow it back before pushing my hand through it. The mountains in the distance get closer as we make our way there and finally turn off the interstate at our exit. With trees lining the street on both sides, we follow the directions, turning once to go down Main Street. I laugh; it seems every city or town has a Main Street.