this is my second attempt at a one-shot, its a little lengthy; i dont seem to be that great at them, but i guess it was worth trying. *reviews are rad!
"You can't keep doing this to her" his mothers voice sternly warned through the screen door behind him, "You need to fix yourself before its too late."
Admitting defeat, he dropped his head down to his hands as his mother retreated back into the warmth of her home, leaving her son to mend his brutal wounds, and the wounds he slashed into others. Marking this day as three days before Thanksgiving, it was three days before their anniversary, and even they would agree that it was a miracle at times that they have made it this long. Depending on who you ask, and how you keep track of time, this would make seven years, give or take weeks and months here and there.
Situated conveniently across the street, I hear them fighting in the driveway, the arguments echoing through the trees; it has become a routine of mine to watch their progress once again, much like watching old re-runs of a television show that you love to hate. Doors slam, echoing through the street, and as her ignition turns over, I retreat to the window to watch it all unfold; maybe today will be different.
"Will you tell your sister to just get over it already and make up her mind" Michael shouts from the bathroom, "how long does this really have to go on?" Shaking my head at his ridiculous comment, he can't see me, nor will he hear my mumbled response; positioned in front of the nursery window, I sigh deeply, surveying the bedroom that we had once shared.
Attempting a relationship since the carefree days of high school, they should be married by now; they should be happily in love, planning their future. Love thrived between them, don't get me wrong, they were in deeper love than anyone would ever know but they weren't happy, not in the slightest, though the love they shared was enough to always bring Lydia back to him no matter how far he pushed her away. Residing across the street from each other since the beginning of our time, the three of us had shared an ancient history together, a bond that surpassed our bloodline or our love for the lonely misunderstood boy who believed we were infested with cooties until the fourth grade; we were the best of friends and nothing could break us apart. But that was then.
Unable to part with the house we grew up in, I have kept it in my name, serving no purpose but to stay connected to him at the time the decision was made, now housing my husband and son, the second generation of a family to flourish in the same home where we were raised, where we constructed and deconstructed all of our precious memories. Striving for independence Lydia moved out soon after our parents passed away, sometime after Peter moved to California, in an attempt to rid herself of the emotional burden, but now returning from time to time to the safe haven of our original territory after his forced return to his childhood domain.
On this bitter November afternoon, the unraveling of dramatics forced Lydia away after a harsh argument her heart forcing herself into her car. With a trembling sob overcoming her body, forcing her right hand to violently shift the car into drive and her foot to push the pedal to the floor, saving herself from the sadness, the only way she knew how, leaving him alone on the front steps, his head in his hands and fingers wretched into his hair, hoping he could hold his guard up enough to keep back the tears. At any moment he'll just barely perk up, as I watch through the foggy window of our childhood bedroom, his fingers will dial an all too familiar phone number and my phone will ring, echoing throughout the bedroom.
"Tree house, ten minutes" He sighs, before hanging up and retreating into the house.
Gathering my composure, I climb into the tree house some time later; usually to find him seated Indian style on the cold, poorly carpeted floor with a thermos of coffee by his side, a sad but content expression on his face, knowing I would always find way to fix it, to make it right again. But that was then.
As he tells me later on, his father sidetracked him from the coffee, stopping him in the kitchen, shoving a small black box into his hands, a box he had been keeping hold of for some time now, advising him to make the right decision, overthrowing the routine of our tree house meeting.
Forcing myself to climb up the creaking wooden steps, today, I find him on the floor, with the same sadness in his eyes as he awaits my arrival but with a lack of contentment on his face, his head now buried in his hands again. No thermos keeps him company this time, instead, the small black box he had been given had taken its place next to him on the floor. Sadness overtakes my usually calm demeanor, I want to run to him, I want to fall into his arms and comfort him in any way possible, but I cannot, and I never will.
Playing the devils advocate in their relationship for far too long, I have fallen in and out of love with him, more than I would like to admit; fulfilling his emotional needs when it is necessary, I will never serve a deeper purpose, taking a back seat to his true love after I once again struggle to piece their love back together. Taking it in stride, I had given up hope after meeting Michael, falling hard enough for him to distract me from Peter and Lydia for all of eternity, or at least that's what we vowed at our wedding. But that was then.
Taking a seat across from him on the frigid wooden floor, I run my hand over the soft black velvet peering into the box, assuming its contents, assuring myself for the sake of the moment. Sighing and pulling together my ragged thoughts, I return it to its rightful spot on the cracked and decayed wood.
"You don't need my help this time, do you?" I question with a sigh, constructing his plan in my head, I know him all too well. He shakes his head, locking his eyes with mine as I interrogate, "when are you going to do it?"
Peter shrugs before answering, uncertain of his future, of even this very moment. "I loved you once you know" He confesses, never breaking eye contact. "I bought it four years ago; with the first big check I was cut from the record." He finally tears his gaze away, shifting his eyes to the box on the floor.
Beating right out of my chest, my heart hurt; my breath caught in my throat, I couldn't push the words out, I was unable to construct a complete though or form a complete sentence, but he knew, and he answered.
"I could never make myself do it, because I loved you both. I loved you both, Allie, but I'll always love her more, and I'm sorry for putting you between us for so long now." Apologizing for a heartbreak I had buried long ago, he dropped his head back into his hands, the frustration hanging in his voice.
Silence, thick in the cold Chicago air; we sat for seconds, minutes, hours, I'll never really know. Words had escaped me, and feelings were nonexistent, time may have stopped and neither of us would have noticed. With his head buried in his hands, I knew he was plotting and planning, something he would always be good at, scheming a way to get her back on his own, devising a plan to make it right again. Feeling used and destroyed, I abruptly stood up to exit the tree house, brushing the dust off of my legs and descending the old rotten steps as her car pulled back into the driveway. Familiar to our ears, it was a sound we both knew by heart and in an instant, like clockwork, he came rushing down the creaking stairs behind me.
Clutching my forearm as I began to walk away, Peter drew me to him, into the warmest most sincere hug I've ever received, whispering "thank you so much" into my hair as he kissed my forehead and scampered off, clutching the black box that held his entire future.
Taking the back seat once again, I have now become accustom to holding second best, second flame to my sister; born three minutes too late, I would never have been the golden child, prom queen and cheerleading captain, it still wouldn't make him notice me until it was too late, and even then, she would overpower my existence. Keeping him in the family, instead of falling out of my life forever was one positive outcome of their engagement, if I were to lose the love of my life to one person, I'm content with accepting this final loss to my sister, older by three minutes, but forever ahead of me by a lifetime, living the life I wished to be my own. Before we knew wishes never came true and dreams were a set up for disappointment, we would spend hours on end when we were younger, sitting in the tree house wishing on stars and planning and plotting our dreams. But that was then. And this is now.