So there goes avoiding the goodbyes..
Edit: I actually had to go back out of plain curiosity to see if this in fact was the shortest chapter ever and I was kind of shocked to see that like the first ten or so chapters had 800-900 words, over 1000 only on rare occasion, lol. I don't know why I had to point this piece of information out, but I did anyway. Bleh..
Brilliantly yellow and orange rays of what appeared to be the afternoon sun woke me up.
I tried to shake the feeling off, but I was a bit disappointed to find the bed vacant except for my own, wrapped up body. The soft imprints next to me on the mattress were solid proof that his body had indeed laid right there beside me.
Despite all the terrors of the past few days, I smiled at the memory of how Frank's closeness had made these terrors seem like nothing but a distant, unpleasant dream.
I made a show out of stretching out my limbs that felt stiff and tense to the point where you'd think they hadn't been moved for days. Despite not feeling tired anymore, I yawned repeatedly and the grogginess stuck tight to my head.
I gave myself another couple minutes of laying on the soft bed, bathing in the beautiful warm light, before deciding to get up.
I couldn't help but sense the loss now that these fearful, action filled days had come to an end. I did not miss the basement and I sure as hell didn't hold any warm fuzzy feelings for what went on down there, but it was obvious to me that now that Gerard had got his proof, now that we had gone to great lenghts to establish the fact that Frank truly was my one and only achilles' heel, I would go back home and go on with my life as an uninteresting bartender with no social life.
And Frank... Frank would once again me no more than a dream sadly not within my reach. Something that hurt to remember, but would be unforgivable to forget.
He would return to his position as the man I cried for at nights, cursing the odds that were against anything remotely related to the idea of Frank and I being together.
The men would go back to their lives, Gerard most likely inspired by the things he'd seen and Frank merely relieved that this unfortunate era in his life was coming to an end. An era that had begun on a cold January night on his mother's lawn, as he'd come out to find out about the tiny stranger standing there looking all lost in the darkness of the silent suburbia.
The bittersweetness of this afternoon was prominent in the air as I sat on the bedpost, feeling much too calm than what I thought was appropriate, considering the circumstances.
Somehow, I did feel peaceful despite being torn between complacency and melancholy.
Somehow, I managed to see this as a closure, and accepted the fact, trying to feel grateful for having atleast that.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad living on my own again.
Maybe I wouldn't miss them like I did before.
If only I'd be able to hold on to the thought of things having meant to be this way. I couldn't mess with fate, no one could, and if anything in this moment was obvious it was just that, added to the fact that fate was obviously against the idea of us. Of me and Frank.
I leaned back, wanting to savor my possibly last moments in this strange house, on this bed that still had Frank's intoxicating scent lingering all over it. It was a sweet mixture of some peppery spices, lemons, and mint - or atleast that was as far as I was able to describe it.
I inhaled deeply and understood that it was time to leave the room. If I was to get caught up in anything related to Frank or his closeness, soon I wouldn't be able to make myself leave at all.
I had to hold on to the peace I had within, hold on to it for dear life, and not let the sorrow take over. I would always have the beautiful memory of his eyes gazing into mine before I'd drifted off to sleep, with me.
I had to accept the fact that it was all he could give me, and for what I'd gotten I should be grateful.
I exited the room quietly, and closed the door after taking in one last time the bed, and the marks on the crinkled sheets that showed the figures of two bodies having been curled up, so close to each other.
I think it was fair to say that Frank did, on some level, care for me, and with that knowledge in my heart, how could I not be happy? How could I not let him go back to his life that he belonged in, and do it with a light heart? I did love him, and knowing he was better off with all this safely behind him, was a more impotant factor than my own loss and the cracks in my heart.
I would be selfish, now wouldn't I, and love myself more than I loved him, if I couldn't walk out of this house without a smile on my face?
The hall was empty, and I walked over the front door in silence. I had no idea where the men were at, and maybe it was better that way. There was no need for goodbyes. I think they both expected me to leave and be gone, and had had the decency to let me walk away in solitude. I appreciated that.
The wooden clock above the door declared that it was four in the afternoon, and I opened the door knowing that the gravel road had to lead somewhere, and traffic didn't seem like a far-fetched hope at this hour.
I felt lucky, and started walking in the sunlight, towards the road ahead and wherever it would lead. I would find a way home eventually.
Just before the road the curved to the left, leaving the front of the house out of view, I paused to send my last thoughts out to Frank.
I turned and kept going until the road led me to a bigger one with jet black asphalt cover that shimmered in the light.
I stopped by the side of it, and without hesitation extended my hand in order to attrack attention, and waited for a car to stop.
Just like everything else in this life, I guess I had to learn the reality of hitch hiking the hard way, too. After what I took for about an hour of mindless pacing around and waving at passing cars, there was very little left of my previous, peaceful state of mind.
Frustration shook my body as I thought of all the cars that could've come to a halt, but decided to push the gas pedal further down and mind their own business instead.
I kicked the stones on my path and stomped on the ground, feeling like an unwanted child.
Another pair of headlights came to my view and I jumped back to the very edge of the asphalt, waving my arms like a lunatic while jumping up and down. Without ever slowng down, the car raced past me and I couldn't help myself as the thumbs up turned to an aggravated flipping of my middle fingers. The car drove on.
My stomach made a protesting sound, and I came to the realization that I had eaten nothing but a few, pathetic pieces of saltines all day. The sun had long ago ceased to shine and the air got colder each passing minute. I tried to keep my shivering body warmed up by pacing and jumping around. I must've looked like a runaway, with absolutely no belongings with me, not even a coat, and the way I bounced frantically whenever I saw a car most likely didn't make me look like the most reliable, danger-free person to offer a ride to.
I decided to take it down a notch, and settled on sitting on a rock beside the road, trying look like a normal, calm human being.
The next car that came to my view wasn't one in a hurry, but one that came from the very same road I'd come from. It was the battered old van that had driven me here in the first place.
So there goes avoiding the goodbyes, I thought, but decided to stand up. I was going to freeze and starve out here if I didn't, and after all, having the guys drive me back to the city felt a bit safer than accepting a ride from a stranger.
I smiled sheepishly as the van stopped a couple feet from me, and walked over.
Before I had reached the side door, the window rolled down and I heard Gerard's unintentionally humorous plea.
"Please get in, Avery. Frank will kill me if I return without you. He's enraged and it's really kind of fucking scary cause he says you left because of me."
I stopped dead on my tracks.
"Well I was hoping for a ride home rather than a ride back.." I admitted after a moment.
"I'll take you later!" He exclaimed with a touch of despair in his tone. I couldn't help but smile.
"I promise, just get in the van and let me show Frank that I found you so he won't chop me up like dry wood, and I'll take you home as soon as you want. Please, I'm begging you. Get in.."
His words clung to the air as I weighed my options. There obviously weren't many.
"Fine." I muttered and opened the door, welcoming the warmth and the softness of the seat.
My dramatic departure was starting to seriously lose its charm as I let Gerard drive me right back to the house.