The ones that stayed
Anna's suitcase landed at her feet with a little thud and a puff of dust before she could yell,"Luis Vuitton!"What a welcome??She was left thinking while spluttering and coughing from the mix of exhaust and dust.
It had been three years,three years in which the shopping centre had shrunk to a sadlooking little hamlet!Or had she changed in the three years?Had her eyes grown accustomed to shinny windows and paved streets,so much,to have no recollection of the dusty paths and tinroof buildings she was now seeing?She sould see up the road,all the way to Kims grain mill,and no sign of Jim's bicycle.Her mother had said he would be there just ten minutes before so where was he?He must be a big boy now,she thought,big enough to carry her and her luggage.He was just learning when she left,......Hmmm,when she left,how she remembered that day,her mother escorting her to the same bus stop she was standing at,and her walking gingerly to disguise the pain she felt from each step.She knew they were watching,every single one of them who had heard the commotion the night before,and she would be damned if she gave them the satisfaction of seeing her broken.Her carefully chosen outfit and proud walk helped a little. As they wondered who let her out of the house,the bus arrived and in minutes she was on her way out,leaving it all behind.
He took her by suprise,calling her name as if they had been together just five minutes before.No suprise,no excitement,no emotion whatsoever in the flat simple "Anna" that made her turn around.And turn she did,only back in time.That one word obliterated three years of fun and fashion,three years spent rewriting the story of her life.The same beloved jaw,inviting lips and hooded eyes looked back at her,like they always did when she came to him all those times long ago.Ana had prepared herself for this moment,so well infact that she had the exact words ready,except she couldn't find her tongue.The same tongue that had hungrily sought out his,back then when she was still young and impressionable.Now her silly hands threatened to betray her and keeping them in check was all she could do not to throw herself on him,her beloved Mathew,the love of her life,err, no that was the love of her past life.She was all new now,worldly and sophisticated and to show him just how much she offered him her hand!He shook it looking bemused then grabbed her suticase obviously suggesting he was walking her home.
The silence was killing Anna yet she had nothing to say.She blocked out all the thoughts rushing in her head and concentrated on those waiting at home."You notice you havent said anything to me Ana?"He asked casually, like he always asked loaded questions,as if he was asking for a glass of water!She felt the old rage coming back,the way he always made her feel like she was the one at fault,how much had he said himself?Anna doesn't count,she already knew her name!Where was this Jim anyway?He was supposed to be her welcome home,not this piece of her history she would rather forget!!!What were the odds of running into the last person she wanted to see on her first visit home in three years?He was looking at her,she could feel it,like he always did,like he could see into her heart, and hear what she didn't say!"You have been gone for long,"he really wouldn't give up."I am back now",she finally answered.She planned to feign extreme fatigue if he kept up the small talk.His brow creased and he stopped,"did you miss me?"Oh Gosh,which soap opera was this,barely five minutes and he wanted to start??Didn't he remember her last call on that fateful day?If he didn't she wouldn't blame him,she cannot remember what she was saying,but she remembers the pain,the anguish she felt and if he ever loved her,ever knew her,he would too.She had gone out to see him,because she wanted to,and he had asked her to stay because he wanted to and knew she would want to if he asked.And stay she did,until the phone rung and her mother was asking her where she was the whole of yesterday,just like all lovers they had lost track of time and found themselves in trouble.Her fathers anger had scarred her.And hours later she was on her way to heal her wounds,a day before her 20th birthday.
But how could she tell him all this,when she knew he had heard her screams,when he should have known that night would have been bad for her?Answering with a question seemed easier."Did he miss her?"She asked him and crossed arms.He responded by taking her suicase and resuming the walk.A few moments of silence,he dropped the bombshell.He was now a father!Ana missed a step and then another.This was too much for her to take in,he had a daughter?She turns her back for three years and he sires a child?The strangled 'congratulations Daddy' and fake smile earned her a smile back.But her heart was brimming with jealousy.What woman had borne a child for him,taken him from pining for her and to the happiest man in the world?Yes she had dated here and there,but it was all in an effort to forget him,and she didn't go getting pregnant!"And I moved back home,to take care of my family".Family????So young and married,at that moment Ana wanted to go back to the city,where he wasn't there to rip open her wounds.And she could shop and dress pretty and revel in the attention she got.
The last metres to her home stretched on and on,she could feel the unspoken words in his heart,the ache he felt while he tried to look for her,while she reinvented herself and he remained to deal with the loneliness,and his need to make something his own before history repeated itelf.The sudden marriage,the daughter,it now made sense to her.He had hurt too,he had lost too.He wouldn't look into her eyes as he put down her suitcase at the gate and walked away,without one more word.Anna knocked on the gate and waited for the joyous welcome from her family.Anything to take her away from the terrible sadness she felt.Up the road,he went, the same bouncy walk, shoulders held high,Mathew,the love she lost.