The light fall breeze rustled the leaves, causing a few to fall off, waving back and forth as they made a journey to the ground. The trees were just changing color, a few leaves receiving the golden red color so often associated with fall. The air smelled crisp and fresh with a bite of chill as the wind swirled around. The sky was overcast, the multitude of clouds casting shadows on the ground and covering the sun. Nature seemed at peace, allowing the wind to swirl and the trees to change in expectance of winter.
However, a few houses down from the quaint neighborhood park, a moving truck was pulling into an abandoned house long forgotten and long run-down. A young woman with her dark brown hair in a ponytail paraded around in sweats, picking up boxes here and there while half-heartedly carrying them into the house. She had to duck to avoid a falling rain gutter and side-step an unruly bush causing her trek to take longer than expected. As she walked back, her hazel eyes inspected the rushed paint job, picking the peeling bits off with the tips of her manicured fingers. The wind blew heartily just then, pushing the paint out of her hand and leading her back towards the truck. The woman leaned against it and breathed out carefully, glancing at the world around her.
As the woman closed her eyes, tiny footsteps could be heard padding down the hallway and out the door. A child, no more than four ran out and into her mother's arms. The woman picked the child up, petting her chestnut hair and kissing her olive-skinned temple. The little girl looked upwards, her large green eyes glancing at her mother through her thick eyelashes before leaping out of her mother's arms and towards the truck, her pink dress swishing around her knees as she went. She pointed toward a box and her mother sighed before chuckling and pulling the box out for her.
It was at this moment that a man walked up the block, leading another woman and a young boy. He stopped at the truck and introduced himself, the woman and the boy to the mother. Smiling politely, they all shook hands, save the boy who rushed over to the girl and her box.
"Hi!" exclaimed the boy as he skidded to a halt. He pointed to the box and looked up at her through his blonde bangs, "Whatcha doin'?"
The little girl, annoyed by the interruption as well as possibly having to share her treasures, pulled her toy towards her body and stepped away from the boy. "Nothing."
"You have cool toys!" the boy cried as he dug through the box.
"Hey!" cried the girl, attempting to pull the box toward her, but stopping when she realized how heavy it was.
The boy stepped closer and continued his excavation. "Whoa!" he shouted when he found the best toy he had ever laid eyes on-a remote controlled spaceship with working lights and noises. Without thinking, he wrapped his hands around the toy and pulled it out. "Can I play-"
"Tony! Tony, put that down. Those are not your toys." The woman he came with ran over and wrenched the toy from his hands, quickly giving it back to the young girl and guiding her son back to the adults. "You'll have to excuse him. He just loves his spaceships. Apologize, Tony."
Tony glanced over at the girl who was carefully placing the toy back in the box. "I'm sorry," he muttered, gazing covetously at the toy.
The mother waved away his apology, motioning for her daughter to come closer to the group. The girl obliged, holding a doll under one arm and placing her other hand in her mother's. "I'm sure Anya wouldn't mind sharing. Right?"
Anya glanced up at her mother then looked at the boy and his family. After a long inspection of the family, she shrugged and went back to the box. Anya's mother placed a hand on the other woman's shoulder, "Feel free to come over any time. I'm sure Tony and Anya will get along perfectly."
Tony's mother mussed his hair and then pushed him back toward Anya. With great caution, Tony walked closer to her, fearing an attack from Anya or another forced apology. When neither of these things happened, he picked up the spaceship again and, having not found the remote at the bottom of the box, flew it around with one hand, making "whooshing" noises. Anya watched him, enthralled with his free spirit as he ran around their unkempt front yard, hopping over randomly placed rocks and pushing through the waist high grass.
It was this moment in time where Anya first fell in love with Tony. Of course she didn't know it at the time, being only four, but there was no doubt about it. As she watched him move with ease across her yard, shouting like a madman as he went, feelings stirred within her that she would not notice for years. Tony's personality was reminiscent of the wind, moving with the flow and, while being forceful, only caused a tiny breath of disturbance within the grass. When he noticed her staring, Anya quickly went back to playing with her doll, trying to continue her first hatred of this strange young boy that stole her toy.
Tony smiled to himself and ran back over to Anya, holding out the toy as a peace offering. When Anya ignored him and continued to brush her doll's hair, Tony carefully placed the toy on the ground and went back into the yard. After finding a large dandelion, he picked it and rushed back to Anya who, although she had once again been watching this peculiar Tony, was now braiding her doll's hair, cooing at her while her fingers threaded the thin pieces of hair together. Tony presented the dandelion to her and, when once again ignored, blew it into her face. Anya finally looked up from her doll, glaring at him with her emerald eyes. These were the exact eyes that Tony would consistently dream about a few years from now and for years after that. Tony smiled at her before picking up the toy again and rushing into the yard. Now a sizable distance from her, Tony crouched in the grass, looking toward Anya as she hummed to herself and continued to braid. After she finished, her talented fingers unbraided her doll's hair and combed it back into its original style. Tony couldn't help but giggling to himself at this odd young girl who was obsessed with her doll and seemed to hate him. When she looked in his direction, he quickly continued his game, ignoring her eyes glaring at him as he went.
They were always destined to be together.
"Tony! Tony, stop! Oh my gosh, I can't breathe. Tony!" Anya squeaked out between fits of laughter. Tony was standing behind her, tickling her waist before pulling her in for a big bear hug. Anya's stomach leaped, butterflies fluttering about before flying out of her mouth and swirling around her and Tony. No matter how many times Tony touched her or hugged her or, on the rare friendly occasion, kissed her, she would never get used to it. She sighed and melted into the hug before quickly pulling away and going back to her work.
Anya ran a hand through her hair as she stared at the room in front of her. In just a few weeks she would be leaving for college. Leaving for college many states away from home, from family, and, especially, from Tony. The butterflies went right back into her stomach, flittering around in an anxious kind of manner. She was currently standing in front of her desk and, after tickling her to tears, Tony was lounging on her bed, pointing out shapes and pictures in her popcorn ceiling. Anya would occasionally and half-heartedly acknowledge him with a chuckle, but mostly she was consumed with her own problems. She ran a hand through her hair again and bit her lip, trying to fight the urge to throw her list of things to do out the window and just hop on the bed with Tony while pointing out pictures in the popcorn. A frustrated grunt escaped her lips and she collapsed heavily onto her desk chair.
Tony slyly glanced over at his best friend Anya. Best friends since the day they met, or the day that boys decided girls were cool and vice versa. Not once had his heart ever belonged to someone as much as it belonged to Anya. A beautiful woman inside and out, what with her dark brown hair and beautiful eyes that perfectly complimented a sweet and funny personality. He could feel his heart practically leaping out of his chest the longer he looked at her. However, her beautiful eyes were now clouded and her shoulders were shaking. Anya's head was in her hands, making it impossible for him to see her face, but Tony could tell she was crying. Feeling instant compassion for her, he leaped from his place on the bed and rushed to her side. The moment he got there she looked up and wiped the tears from her cheeks. Seeing her in such distress caused his heart to break just as much as hers had, if he only knew how much pain she was going through.
"Anya, love, what's wrong?" Tony enfolded her in his arms, ignoring his un-platonic feelings for her, wanting to just fix whatever the problem was.
Anya pulled away before the butterflies could start up again. "Nothing, nothing I'm fine. Let's just. . . Let's just finish packing." Without missing a beat, Anya stood up quickly and picked up a cardboard box off the floor.
Tony stayed near the desk, leaning against the edge, resting his weight on the palms of his hands. The ceiling fan was on full blast, blowing his blonde bangs over his eyes. Through the hair, Tony watched Anya as she carefully placed items in the box. Each movement required a thought and each thought went through a careful process. With each item she picked up, Anya would look at the piece for a long moment, breathe out slowly and then, with great care, she would place the item in the box. Tony pushed his bangs out of his face and stepped closer to Anya, resisting the urge to wrap an arm around her. He settled for brushing her arm as he took a few things out of her box. Every time Anya placed an item in, he would take the item out. Anya didn't seem to notice, just continued to be lost in her own world with placing items in the seemingly infinite amount of space. Finally, Anya looked in the box and, with a look of confusion upon her face, turned toward Tony and the pile of stuff he had removed and placed on the bed in front of him. Anya attempted to reach around him, but Tony closed the space between them, causing her to retract her arm quickly.
"Come on, sweetheart, what's on your mind?" Tony timidly took her hands in his and led her to the window seat. He leaned against the wall and pulled her closer to his chest, further closing the gap between them. Tears fell from Anya's eyes again, salty water droplets falling from her eyes to his T-shirt as she curled up in his arms and held him close for fear that he would disappear. Without any further words, Tony rubbed her upper arm in a comforting fashion, resting his cheek upon the top of her head.
Anya couldn't speak through her sobs, but could only grip his shirt with all the strength she had left. She cried not because she was leaving, or that she was finally being put into the world, but because she was leaving Tony and was being put into the world without his constant support and presence. Tony had been there since her and her mother had moved in and, although they weren't exactly the best of friends at first, she loved him dearly. They had been together through practically everything and taking a huge leap without knowing Tony was there to catch her if she fell caused great anxiety in her stomach.
The butterflies were flittering in their anxious way, pushing any feelings she may have for Tony out the window. All that Anya could feel was the comfort of his arms around her and his cheek on her head. All she could acknowledge was the constant reassurance of him, of the essence of him, of his presence here and now. While he wouldn't be with her all the time, moments like these were the moments she lived for. The moments where Tony and Anya seemed to find common ground, seemed to find a way to help each other, seemed to fit perfectly in each other's arms without even a single problem. This is what she would miss. Sure, Anya would miss the times where it would be overcast skies and right as her and Tony went for a picnic it would start to rain. Sure, she would miss the way his presence filled a room and his scent enveloped her. Sure, she would miss the constant butterflies any time he looked at her or hugged her or, even, brushed her arm. But moments like these, moments where they grew from each other, where one became the beautiful blooming flower and the other the sunshine in the rainy day, these would be what Anya would have to live without.
Tony lifted his cheek from Anya's head and lifted her chin with one finger to meet her eyes. A sudden rush of embarrassment overcame Anya and she glanced downwards, then attempted to fully sit up. Tony tightened his grip on her, causing Anya to let a sudden rush of air escape her lips. While still holding her snug to him, Tony brushed away the tears and wetness that was smattered across her red cheeks. Without thinking, Tony left his hand on her cheek, carefully running the pad of his thumb across her cheekbone. Anya didn't know what she should do, so she settled for staring at him, eyes wide and an eyebrow raised in confusion. Tony glanced at her and, realizing what he was doing, pulled his hand quickly away and let go of her.
"Um, uh. . . Sorry. You had a smear of. . . Uh, mas. . . Mascara. Yeah, um, I got it." Tony patted Anya's shoulder before jumping up quickly and walking over to the desk. He breathed out through his nostrils and closed his eyes.
Still sitting at the window, Anya stared at Tony. Her mind was going a million miles an hour trying to figure out what exactly just happened. Tony was turned from her, fiddling with loose papers on her desk. At the angle she was seated, Anya couldn't see Tony's face and the way his brow was furrowed with frustration and thought as he tried to recover. All Anya could see was the way his fingers trembled as he shuffled through papers, pretending to look for something that he would never find. Anya stared for a minute before recovering herself and wiping away the tears that threatened to escape out of the corners of her eyes. She walked back to her bed and began to replace the things Tony removed.
"You know you're not leaving, right?" Tony said suddenly, breaking the silence.
Anya looked up at him through her lashes. "Excuse me?"
"You. You're not leaving. I won't allow it." Tony attempted to keep his lips in a perfectly straight line while feigning seriousness, but a moment later his will broke and he burst into laughter. "I'm kidding. Well, maybe. I'm only kidding if my kidnapping plan doesn't work out."
Anya shook her head and chuckled. "You'll barely even notice I'm gone."
"On the contrary. I'll miss you dearly and you'll be too busy to even think about me." Tony mussed Anya's hair, causing the pieces to fall in mismatched ways. He smiled at her before tossing a paper airplane in her direction.
Ignoring the distraction, Anya continued to pack, placing items in the box that meant very dear things to her. She was extremely emotional today and would not let this emotion cause her to break out into tears again. Or lead to other things. Breathing in deeply, Anya placed one last item in the box and then pulled the flaps together.
Tony moved at this moment, reaching for the tape at the exact moment Anya did. Their fingers brushed together, sending shockwaves up both their arms, exciting the butterflies in Anya's stomach and making Tony even more on edge.
Tony didn't understand what was happening all of a sudden. Fourteen years and he had never been this antsy with Anya. For the five years he had known about his feelings for her nothing of this sort had ever happened. Perhaps it was the fact that she was leaving. Perhaps it was the fact that to see her cry made Tony want to help her. Perhaps it was the fact that he almost couldn't hold in his feelings anymore. All of these things could have contributed to how on edge he felt.
The fan continued to blow a gentle breeze around the room. The tape sat, untouched as Tony and Anya stared at each other. Anya was the first to break contact, reaching around Tony for the tape. Her hand never made it, though, because Tony's own hand stopped her. Without thinking through his actions, Tony took Anya's hand in his own, intertwining his fingers with hers. When Anya didn't struggle, Tony stepped closer to her, closing the gap between them.
Anya didn't know how to react. Here she was, packing for college, ignoring the sudden onslaught of butterflies after her earlier breakdown and now Tony, her best friend, her only friend, was doing exactly what she had desired for years. Thoughts weren't passing through her head clearly and any action she might have followed through with got muddled in the fog of happiness overclouding her brain. She stood there, still as a statue, still as a tree while the mighty wind rushed past her, winding around her, pulling her closer and keeping her there in safety. She knew she probably looked like an idiot, she knew she might be ruining his plans, but, in all honesty, she had no clue what to do.
While Anya stood, watching Tony and trying to even somewhat comprehend the situation, Tony pulled her to him. Their hands were still together and Tony placed one hand tentatively on Anya's hip. Those green eyes, the beautiful green eyes that Tony dreamed about were now staring directly at him with just a wee bit of space between them. When Anya didn't pull away, Tony let go of her hand and put it on her cheek, continuing his action from earlier by rubbing the pad of his thumb across her cheekbone.
There was still an air of confusion surrounding Anya. Having let go of Tony's hand, her arms now hung loosely at her sides. As Tony placed his free hand on her cheek, Anya leaned into his hand, closing her eyes, trying to even have a clear thought pass through. This attempt failed and, once again, Anya stood staring at Tony. His blue eyes looked back at her, pleading for some sort of response, anything so he would know that what he was doing was not completely lost in translation. Anya didn't know how to respond. Carefully she placed her hands on his chest and slowly moved them around his neck. Once there, she let her deft fingers twist in his blonde hair.
"You really need a haircut," she said bluntly.
Tony laughed and shook his head, causing the hair to pull from Anya's hands. "I guess I do." He gave her a look, cocking one eyebrow and stopping his thumb's trail across her cheek. "You're quite the mood killer," Tony said in a single breath, the air sweeping across Anya's face. "Is this. . . Are you. . ."
Anya tipped her chin upwards and stared into Tony's eyes. "Of course."
The two words Anya spoke in a hushed tone carried all the weight of the world. The smile that escaped her lips spoke every word Anya couldn't and the first step that Tony took made up for Anya's lack of knowledge about the situation. Tony rested his forehead on hers, closing his eyes and relishing in the moment that he had longed for. Anya's heart palpitated, performing flips and tricks in her ribcage. Before Anya could say anything else, before Anya could make a move of her own, and before Anya could fully wrap her mind around what was exactly occurring, Tony kissed her.
Although this was the next logical move in the position they were in, Anya was still taken aback. Perhaps it was because she never thought this would actually happen. Perhaps she thought it was another dream, one that she would wake up from in just a few minutes. But no matter what she thought, there was still a moment of shock where Anya stood completely still.
Tony was patient. He pulled away, leaving Anya shellshocked and longing for him again. Without a thought, Anya leaned toward Tony, kissing him lightly, the first demonstration of her feelings. Tony couldn't help the grin that spread across his face, eating away the sadness that had once been there. The pair stared at each other, taking in every tiny detail of the other's face. From the excited eyes to the flushed cheeks from embarrassment to the excited smiles, every detail was excavated and every feeling was laid bare. They stood together for a moment in the silence, Tony's arm encircling Anya's waist and Anya's hands resting on Tony's shoulders.
After a moment, Anya was the first to speak, allowing her feelings to be heard for the first time to both herself and Tony. "I don't think you know how long I've been waiting for this moment," she spoke softly, not wanting to immediately disrupt the silence.
Tony chuckled to himself. "Same here," he pulled away from her, but still held Anya's hand in his. "So, as I was saying. . . You're not leaving." Anya laughed at him and attempted to pull away, but was stopped as Tony pulled her into his chest and kissed her temple.
The snow swirled around in lazy circles, landing where it could find a temporary home and moving to a new place whenever the wind picked up. There was enough snow on the ground to call a snow day, but not enough to hamper foot traffic. The bare trees had a nice layer of the white powder on them and bent under the weight. Pedestrians hurried about in the chilly January air, pulling their coats tighter around their bodies and shielding their faces from the biting wind.
Anya sat in the window seat of her and her husband's apartment, watching the people pass and breathing in sharply whenever she imagined the cold on her bare face. Their apartment was small, but quaint and just what the couple needed at this point in their relationship. It was a small one-bedroom apartment with a tiny bathroom and a minuscule kitchen that opened into a beautiful living area in which Anya now sat. The window seat was padded and was a comfortable place for Anya to shamelessly people watch. She pulled her sweater closer around her body and sat up, trying to ignore the multitudes of boxes littering the floor that spoke the words she refused to hear.
A slight chill not caused by the cold weather travelled up her spine and spread its feathery fingers across her body. Anya's heart beat softly in her chest, timing itself to the beat of thoughts running through her head. Anya sighed quietly as she stood up and made her way into the kitchen. The coffee she put on moments before was ready and she carefully poured it into her favorite mug. Anya stood there for a second, leaning her elbows against the counter and holding the cup to her lips, blowing softly, waiting for it to cool down to the point that she could drink it. Moments passed and the liquid was still quite warm; Anya set the cup down and ran a finger over the rim, humming to herself, looking just past the boxes on the floor.
"Dammit!" Anya's husband's voice travelled through the apartment as he stumbled down the hallway clutching his knee. When he looked up, Anya's green eyes met his ice-cold blue ones. The inspection the two gave each other was deeply intense, husband and wife, watching the other's every move and judging every step they took.
Anya was the first to speak: "Good morning, Tony." Tony grunted in reply and went back to nursing his knee. "Do you want me to get some ice?"
Tony ignored her and walked over to the pot of coffee, pouring himself a large cupful before walking to the window seat and gazing out to watch the multitudes of people milling about. Without even waiting, Tony took a sip of his coffee, wincing when it burned his mouth, touching his lip where a small blister was forming. Without a word, Tony placed the cup back on the counter and walked towards the pile of cardboard boxes, nudging them with his sock-covered toe, squeezing his eyes shut when he twisted his knee the wrong way. "Anya," he started, turning towards her and looking at her with a gaze of love for the first time in months.
The look was too much for Anya who turned her back on her husband as she took his cup to the sink. "Please don't. Are you finished?"
Anya sighed with the weight of that one word, knowing there were multiple meanings to the simple phrase and not wanting to believe any of them. Her emotions were beyond all words, her eyes beyond all tears and her heart beyond all possible ways of breakage. Nothing Tony could say, nothing he could do, would stab her deeper than he already had.
Anya poured the coffee down the sink.
"Did you put these together this morning?" Tony began to gather the boxes, stacking them on top of each other before carrying them into the bedroom.
Anya filled the cup with water, wrinkling her nose at the coffee-water mixture before pouring that down the sink.
"I'm really sorry," Tony called.
Anya dried the cup, breathing slowly through her nostrils, before placing it upside down on a dish towel.
"Are you all right, sweetheart?" Tony stood by the fridge, leaning against it with his right shoulder.
Anya turned on her heel, grabbed her coffee, and swallowed a good amount in order to keep her mouth shut.
"Anya, love, come on, let's talk." Tony took a step closer to her, holding out his hand, attempting to give her a look of love, but, instead, glaring at her again.
"Tony. I've been trying to talk to you for months. Don't give me this 'I care about you' bullshit. Please, just pack your things. Please." Anya gripped the handle of her mug tightly and placed the rim between her lips.
Tony sighed heavily, dropped his hand, and made his way back into the bedroom. There, for the first time in their entire relationship, he carefully made the bed, pulling the covers the way Anya liked, placing the pillows in the exact place Anya would. After he placed the last pillow, Tony set a folded note on top. He stood there for a second, thinking, reminiscing.
The clatter of dishes in the kitchen woke Tony from his reverie. He placed clothes in the boxes, walking back and forth from the closet, from the drawers, that he had shared with Anya. As he closed his sock drawer, a picture frame caught his eye. Their wedding photos. The ones where Anya had a pure and genuine smile, the smile that Tony could receive with just a look or a touch. The photos showed their relationship at it's finest, when they were genuinely happy. When they weren't constantly tearing down their relationship or, even, each other. A wave of sadness overwhelmed Tony, drowning him in it's suffocating clutches. Tony ran the pad of his thumb across the frame, sighing deeply. His thumb travelled to the ring on his finger, slowly pulling it off, twisting it around the tip of his finger. With a deep breath, he slipped it off, placing it next to the frame.
Anya placed the last dish on a towel and leaned against the counter. She leaned back on the palms of her hands, watching the bedroom for any sign of Tony reappearing. Of seeing Tony for the last time, of a sign that maybe he would stay, just maybe. But Anya knew the truth. She ran a hand over her upper arm, a shiver crawling up her spine. A wince appeared on her face as she touched her arm and she had to close her eyes to keep from crying. When she opened her eyes again, Tony was placing boxes on the counter. Before he could set his eyes on her, Anya removed her hand and took a step toward him.
"Did you get everything?" Any kept distance between them, taking a half step back when Tony turned toward her. He nodded and Anya stepped back again, watching him carefully and trying to busy herself with cleaning the kitchen.
They stood there for a second, husband and wife, looking at each other, their eyes speaking words neither of them could bear to whisper. Neither of them understood how they got here, how they ended up standing yards apart, not daring to close the distance, not daring to touch. How they went from the couple that was meant to be, meant to stay together forever, to the couple that couldn't stand even being in the same room, couldn't even speak to each other. From a gentle touch, a gentle kiss, sweet nothings whispered in passing to shouting matches, furious words slipping off lips without a thought.
Anya turned from Tony and began to put dishes away, lifting plates to their proper cabinet. The sleeve of her shirt fell to her elbow, revealing dark purple marks around her wrist. In a quick step, Tony moved toward her, tentatively placing a hand on her shoulder, the softest he had touched her in months. Anya couldn't help her stomach turning, couldn't help wanting to shrug him off and lock herself in a room until he left. Yet she stood there, enjoying this moment, a moment between husband and wife that Anya had not experienced in such a long time. No matter what happened between them, no matter what he did to her, she could never stop loving him. As Anya ruminated on her feelings, Tony put a hand on her waist, pulling her closer to him and setting his cheek on the top of her head. He moved his hand from her shoulder and wrapped his fingers around her wrist, the marks perfectly matching up with his fingers.
Suddenly pulled from her reverie, Anya wrenched her hand out of his grip and stepped away from Tony. "What are you doing?" she whispered, violently tugging the sleeve of her shirt down and wrapping her arms around herself.
"Anya," Tony started, keeping the distance between them as Anya desired. "I'm. . ."
"Sorry?" Anya stepped back again, leaning against the fridge. "Don't. I can't even tell you how many times you've told me that, how many times I've believed you and I'm done, Tony. Done." Anya pointed at the door, keeping the end of her sleeve in her fingers. "Leave. Now." Without looking back at Tony, she abruptly turned on her heel and shut herself in the bedroom.
Tony stood there, gazing at the door. Nothing was making sense to him now and he didn't know what to do as he stood there, waiting hopelessly for Anya to reappear, to run in his arms, to kiss him deeply, tell him how much she loves him and that they'll be together forever. Minutes passed and, when none of these things happened, Tony walked towards his boxes. He would never be able to explain why he did what he did, why he thought it was right, why he felt like he should have done that. He would never be able to explain away not only the physical scars on the love of his life, but the emotional as well. He would never be able to tell Anya why he hit her, why he felt entitled to hurt her, why he felt like it would help him. This lack of explanation, this lack of ability to help Anya, this pushed him out the door. As he picked up his boxes, as he made his way out the door, he couldn't help his heart sinking. This failed marriage was his fault and his alone; he would never be able to forgive himself. Tony stepped out the door, shutting it behind him, not able to look back.
At the noise of the front door closing, Anya tentatively walked out of the bedroom. There she saw Tony was definitely gone, was never coming back. Anya rolled the sleeves of her shirt up, running her fingers over the bruises smattered on her arms. A shudder passed through her body and she watched through the window as Tony put his boxes in his car. It took all of her self-control to not run out the door and forgive him. She had to remember that nothing would change, nothing had changed, if he apologized. She watched him drive off, strangely feeling at ease, at peace. Anya placed a hand on her cheek, but no tears appeared. This hand rolled her sleeves back down before Anya locked the front door and went back to her place on the window seat.
The family piled out of the minivan-parents, three children and their cousins. They grabbed the boxes from the back. The three children each received one before following their parents into the large building. They were here to visit their grandmother, the same one who was suffering from dementia and needed constant care and protection. The family walked quietly into the building and up the two flights of stairs to the correct floor. Here the cousins led the parents and children to the correct room.
A quick knock on the door called forth an elderly woman who opened the door and ushered the family in. While she did not exactly know who everyone was, she did know her own daughter and one grandson. They sat in the apartment, looking around and commenting on the cleanliness and beauty of the tiny room. The children placed the boxes on the floor near their grandmother.
The daughter sat next to her mother, placed a hand on her knee and motioned toward the boxes. "We found these and thought you might like to have them."
The woman's mother did not look at her, hadn't looked at her the entire time she was talking. The grandmother was staring at the three boxes, at the memories of her life stuffed in just three boxes. There was no response from the elderly woman from then on, just a constant stare at the boxes. The family attempted to communicate, but when all attempts failed, they called a nurse, said their goodbyes and left the building downhearted and discouraged at her condition.
The nurse sat with the woman for a while, keeping her company until she was ready to open the boxes and sort through the items. Finally the elderly woman gestured toward the boxes, ready to open them and face her past. The nurse lifted one onto the couch and opened it. The woman motioned for the nurse to leave, wanting to relive her past in privacy.
The next day the woman was taking a walk outside, staring at the beautiful blooming trees, smelling the beautiful flowers and relishing in the cool spring breeze that passed over her. After looking through the boxes the night before, she had found a picture that she now held clutched to her chest. The breeze picked up again, blowing across her skin, tugging at the photo. The woman held tighter to the picture before standing up and going back inside the building.
As she made her way inside, a friend of hers invited the woman to enjoy some coffee with him upstairs. They took the elevator together and he led her to his apartment. There she sat on the couch, looking around her as he made coffee. They sat together for a while, just like old friends, drinking coffee and talking about nothing. The woman forgot what they talked about frequently, but never forgot about the photo in her hand. Finally the finished their coffee and the older gentleman smiled at her.
"What is that picture?"
The woman smiled and waved his question away. "Nothing. Thank you for the coffee."
As the man took her cup and began to wash them, the woman took this moment to look around the room in more detail. She glanced at every photo, every piece of furniture, and, then, something struck her. A pictured framed on a shelf, a picture the woman knew very well. The photo the woman held in her hand, the photo of her and her high school sweetheart holding boxes packed for college. The photo of the one person she had never forgotten about in her entire life despite the pain, despite the tears, despite everything there was still love for him.
Apparently he had never forgotten about her either.