“What’s going to happen then?” she asks me, breathing in deeply and wrapping her arms around her legs while setting her chin on her knees. Sitting feet away from her at the vanity, I wish I had an answer for her, but all I can think is, “Maybe I’ll do what my friend, Addison did once, maybe I’ll travel the world.”
With a hopeful smile and optimism in my voice, I add, “I’d like to be like her.”
Addison’s smile is less than joyous as she replies, “I heard she did that because she was afraid.” Her lips pull down and she bites down on her bottom lip. “I ran away, Aria. I ran because I couldn’t face what was left here.”
“Do you regret it?”
“No,” she answers in a quick breath and seems to struggle to say something else, so I push her to speak her mind. “Whatever you’re thinking,” I tell her, “you don’t have to hide it from me. I won’t judge you.”
“I don’t regret it, because it all brought me back here and brought me back to Daniel.” Her voice cracks and she looks away, back to the closed door of the bedroom.
“So, you and Daniel?” I ask her and keep my weak smile in place, no matter how my gut churns. She’s going back to him and I’m going to be alone.
“I love him, Ria,” she tells me softly, not realizing how she’s pulling at every emotion inside of me.
“I know you do,” I somehow, some way, speak the truth without letting on how much pain my heart is in. I’ll lose Carter because I’m not the woman he needs. And I’ll lose Addison because Daniel will never let her go and she’ll never let him go either. Even if that means she’ll turn a blind eye to the things he does.
As if reading my mind, she tells me, “I don’t agree with what he does sometimes, but I know he has his reasons. And I’m so sorry, Aria,” she apologizes, and I cut her off, waving my hand in the air recklessly.
“Stop it. Don’t apologize. You get it now, don’t you?” I ask her, feeling winded by the question. By the idea that with her answer, she still may not understand this complicated mess of pain and love that Carter and I make together.
“I don’t agree with it,” she tells me with sad eyes, but she doesn’t deny that she understands why.
“You don’t have to,” I tell her and then wipe the sleep from my eyes. “It’s weird, but it makes me feel better knowing you understand. Even if it’s still not…” Right. Right is the word I nearly say, but it can’t be the correct word. Because I don’t care how wrong what we had was, it was right for me. It was right for me.
And I refuse to call what we had wrong.
“Does it upset you that I still love Daniel?” she asks me, and I shake my head no.
“If I were you, I’d love him too. He’ll fight for you till the day he dies.” I almost get choked up, knowing Daniel would do just that. While Carter won’t even tell me he loves me. It shouldn’t matter to me as much as it does. But not hearing those words from him… it’s killed a part of me that I don’t think will ever breathe again.
A yawn creeps up and the exhaustion and weight from everything that happened today, every loss, every failure, makes me crave sleep.
I could sleep forever if sleep would take away this pain.
“I didn’t mean to get into all that,” Addie tells me, moving off the bed and brushing her hair to the side. She runs her fingers through her hair as she tells me, “I didn’t sleep earlier, and I was wondering if you had that vial?”
Getting up from the vanity, I leave the phone on the worn wood top and make my way to the dresser. It’s so quiet tonight, it’s only as I open up the dresser drawer and hear the pull that I realize I can’t hear the crickets. There have been crickets the last two nights, so loud that I had to pretend they were singing me a lullaby in order to sleep.
With the vial in my one hand, I shut the drawer with a hard thud and peek out of the window.
“It’s so dark tonight, isn’t it?” I ask Addison, the thin curtain grazing my fingers before I pull it back and face her.
“It is. Maybe tomorrow we’ll see the stars,” she says with a hint of a smile on her lips.
“Sweet dreams.” The words slip from me as I pass the vial to her and she tells me goodnight.
As she leaves me alone in the quiet, dark room, I can’t help but feel like it’s the last night I’ll tell her goodnight. Something inside of me, something that chills every inch of me is certain of it.