Returning to the cabin I follow Caleb as he slowly maneuvers up the steps, obviously in pain but too stubborn to admit it. When he stumbles I stop myself from reaching out to help him, knowing he would refuse. As he reaches the door I can see that it’s already cracked open. Did I forget to close it when I left?
He looks at me questioningly and I shrug. I can’t remember. I had been in a rush, distracted, worried about him, but it’s not like me to forget to close a door. Before we even step over the threshold I can hear music playing. The hair on my arms prickle and my stomach churns with fear. I hadn’t been listening to music when I was here earlier.
I recognize the song even before I enter the living room and see the lyrics to One Direction’s Come Home scrolling across the television. I know without looking there will be a magnolia flower waiting for me too. Feeling faint I sit down heavily on the couch in front of the television. I stare without blinking as the words flash on the screen.
Clay was here while we were gone, his message as succinct as ever. If I “come home” to him, the chase ends.
Home for me is not with him. It could never be with him. Now that I know what he’s capable of, who he really is, I feel sick knowing I had ever been with him in the first place. As the memories wash over me I wrap my arms around my waist, trying unsuccessfully to hold myself together. I rock forward then back as the signs I ignored so stubbornly flit through my mind.
My best friend had tried to warn me and instead of listening to her concerns I got mad and stormed off like a child. I can’t remember now why I’d been so angry, so defensive. Why would I fail to trust someone who has been by my side for so long? Why would I choose a virtual stranger over a friend who has proven her loyalty time after time?
I feel the couch cushion shift under Caleb’s weight as he sits beside me. I am unable to look away from the screen in front of me and I jump with a start when his arm rests around my shoulders. I’m about to pull away as he pulls me into his embrace.
His strong arms refuse to release me as he reaches forward, hitting the power button on the remote control to end the torment. Soothingly he rocks while rubbing my back. Calmer, I relax into him, hoping that I am not making another mistake by trusting Caleb.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Succinct and is part of something longer I am working on.
This post is a part of the story about the ex and comes after What Can We See from His Hiding Spot?