I changed the goddam sheets, a voice screamed inside my head, as you sat there saying you’d changed your mind.
I was late to work because I changed those fucking sheets. Because 24 hours ago you were coming to stay over for the first time.
I mean I didn’t vacuum or anything, I hate vacuuming (I know you know), but I did pick up the biggest pieces of fluff from the floor with my hands. And I took all the long blonde semi-fossilised hair out of the shower drain. And I re-found the unopened 5-pack of medium toothbrushes I’d bought the day before I saw the dentist last summer and she told me I had receding gums and needed to go easy on the brushing. I debated offering you a toothbrush because 1/ practical reasons and 2/ you’d made so many tiny little gestures that added up to me feeling welcome, so very welcome in your life and your apartment and your arms. And so, I figured, give the guy a toothbrush. It’s not as if I’d gone and bought the toothbrush on purpose or anything. I wasn’t even going to use them. I’d just move them around the already stuffed bathroom drawer and curse every time the sharp cardboard edge scratched me for the next five-to-ten years, so you might as well have one.
I was going to cook, because I’m a coward when it comes to telling friends and family and the people I love how I feel, but I can cook, so I was going to do that, and I figured you’d understand.
I wasn’t sure how we’d handle the morning, as my job had me busy and stressed and I’d surely need to leave earlier than you. Just slam the door behind you, I wanted to be able to say but I couldn’t because 1/ I’m not that cool and 2/ I’d been the victim of door-related trauma recently and I couldn’t quite relax at the thought of an unturned deadbolt in this heartless city.
I was still thinking about the door problem and the go/no go decision on the toothbrush and cringing in advance at the bore of having to make the sofa into its bed form in front of you (why couldn’t I have better organised my life to have a full-time bed?), when you asked me to forgive you.
Me. Forgive. You. Not you, sorry. Me. It was on me. Me who asked for none of this. Who went along with the plan because hey a girl can dream (amirite?) but who knew at her very core that whichever way this went that it would cost her dearly. Who stayed stoically silent in response to your whispers in the dark, who looked away from your stare; certain you’d find something that displeased you. Who dared not believe in the poetry of your caress, who repeated endlessly in her head: we don’t get the things we want.
The bird thing, that was pretty improbable though, wasn’t it? In the middle of the city, the heart of a dream — to hear that particular birdsong that spelt home. The one whose morning cry meant holidays at Grundy’s, comfort, treats and sunshine and good things to come.
But memory is just that and we can never go back.
The house on Avonlea Drive is gone, and so is Grundy.
And so are we.