It Takes A Year: Part Five

[Updated: 4/20/17]

The afternoon sun broke through the blinds and stung at my eyelids. I had just emerged from a deep sleep, my head reeling slightly and my throat dry. I turned away from the white light to lay on my other side. I had almost forgotten that I wasn’t alone in bed. Tyler laid just across from me on his back, one arm over his head and the other curled across his stomach. He had slept in his clothes just like I had. Nerves tingled down my spine and I took a deep breath. I hoped that no one had noticed us go upstairs together, especially not Alicia or the other girls. There’s no way that they’d believe we had simply spent the night sleeping a foot away from each other. I mean, how often did anyone I know really do that? I don’t even know if I’d believe it. All I knew was that if Will heard any more rumors about me that the demise of our relationship would be set in stone.

I pulled my phone out from beneath my thigh where it had fallen out of my pocket. I checked the notifications on the screen. He’d called me two times and messaged me once with a simply question mark. I took another deep breath and opened his chat box. He was online.

Sorry I just got up. couldn’t get to sleep last night.” I typed. A few seconds passed and he started to reply. My heart sped up.

its okay.” he said.

are you at the apartment?” I asked, thinking that maybe I should have said “home” instead.

Yeah.”

I’ll be back soon then. Give me a few.”

Alright.”

Love you, I thought in his voice.

I locked my phone again. These bland conversations starved me and I hated it. I hated myself for everything that had happened. He deserved so much better.

I stood up and started searching for my shoes that I remembered kicking off last night. Tyler stirred a bit.

“Hmm?” he groaned.

“Oh hey sorry, ” I began. “I was just looking for my shoes.”

“Oh…” He rubbed his eyes slowly before reaching up to scratch his head. His voice was raspy and full of tiredness. “They’re under the chair at the desk.”

“Thanks,” I quickly turned around and picked them up. When I sat on the bed to put them on Tyler moved backwards so he could sit up against the headboard.

“Damn, we hella slept in,” he said.

“Yeahh, I’m glad I don’t have work.”

“Same. Where are you about to go?”

“I need to get home. Talk to Will.”

“Ah…”

Something sank to the bottom of my stomach and hit it with a dull thud. It brought me to a distant reminder; Isn’t this how infidelity feels? There I was, sitting on the edge of another man’s bed slipping my shoes on and talking about hurrying home before my significant other starts to worry. Is this how some men felt when they left their money on a hotel table, smoothing out their wrinkled collars and retrieving the tie their wife had bought them from the floor? Is this how women felt when their eager whispers turned to quiet sobs in the night, collapsed alone in the bathroom while her husband’s best friend slept naked in their bed? Bless Will’s heart for not kissing another woman’s lips or engaging her wiles. Bless that ardent heart.

I collected the rest of my belongings while Tyler looked through his phone. After slinging my bag over my shoulder I turned to speak to him.

“I’m gonna go now. Thanks for everything though,” I said sincerely.

“No problem. You know where I’m at if you need anything.”

He didn’t have the affection your voice would have. Still, it was a nice sentiment.

“That means a lot Tyler. I guess I’ll let you know how things go.”

“Good luck.”

“Later,” I opened the door to leave. On my way downstairs I was happy to see that everyone else had already cleared out. I was craving a cigarette badly. When I got to the car I immediately pulled out one of the few that was left in my pack and placed it between my lips. I started the car and let it warm up a little while I lit my cigarette. Had it been any other day I would have just sat and relaxed but I really needed to get back home. With the air still a bit chilly, I started driving out of the neighborhood and towards the highway. Each mile I got closer to our apartment I felt my heart beating faster. Tyler and I hadn’t even come close to doing anything but I still felt the same rush in my chest that was reminiscent of my last encounter with another man. The shame weighed equally. I tried to disperse it into the air around me with each drag of the cigarette. I didn’t know what to expect and it frightened me. There would be no peace in this drive home.

I finally pulled up to our apartment building and stared up at our windows. His light was on. I had spent the entire drive thinking about what I was going to say, but I knew that the moment I saw his face again that those words would disappear into the air and leave me speechless. I needed to just go and face my fears, there wasn’t time to try and script it out again.

I got out of the car, checking my reflection for a brief second. I looked tired but not ragged. There was definitely worry glazing over my eyes. The stairs seemed to be flights higher than they actually were. When I finally came to our door, I took no time to ponder again. I turned my keys into the lock and pushed into the living room. Will was sitting there on the couch watching TV. The air stood still.

“Hey…” he said as he gave me a glance.

“Hi, I’m…sorry it took so long,” I shuffled my feet nervously.

“It’s fine.”

I stood and stared at him before he caught my eyes again. He looked away quickly, grabbing the remote and turning it in his hands to distract himself. I could have started crying right there.

No, I thought. You’ve got to stand firm. It’s time to handle this like an adult.

I went to sit a few inches away from him on the couch. He turned off the television and laid back in faux relaxation.

“So you got my text last night?” he asked.

“Yeah, I did. I just…wanted to talk to you in person about it. I hate stuff like that over the phone.”

“Yeah….”

I swallowed nervously. I needed to cut to the chase.

“So what is this now? What do you wanna do?”

“I dunno,” he sighed. “We moved too fast. Way too fast. I didn’t realize how much pressure I was putting on you.”

At least he realizes that, I thought to myself. I need to take some of the blame too, though.

“It didn’t feel like pressure at first. I wanted all of this: a place of our own to be together. Believe me William, I did.”

“But you don’t now. I mean, I wish you had heard yourself on the phone last night. And now I just don’t know if you’re ever going to want the same things I do. I shouldn’t have been so impatient. I know that it’s my fault I pushed you away,” he looked at me and the guilt in his eyes made me livid with myself. There it was again: that inexplicit power that he has to make me feel like I’d done everything wrong. Years of feeling like the child who wasn’t good enough must have amounted to this.

“You didn’t push me away! I’m just…I don’t know. I get so confused sometimes. I’ve never gotten so far with somebody and it—it overwhelmed me. I love you so much, I promise I never wanted to hurt you.”

I could tell in his eyes how bad he wanted to believe it but just couldn’t. He knew what true love was. He always knew. I was still a novice, still stumbling about and learning. He was willing to teach me and I threw it all away, instead taking harbor in my old ways. My ignorance was no longer innocent. It was capable of moving mountains and conjuring storms. He wasn’t made for this. He deserved the clearest still waters. Transparency. Tranquility.

“I love you,” he took a moment to breathe. “You know I do. But sometimes when two people love each other…”

My body felt limp. My lips parted and chest fell. I heard Tyler’s voice echoing in my head again.

“They don’t…” I began.

Belong together.

I couldn’t do this. I covered my face to catch the tears before he could see them. My feet brought me off of the couch and away from him. In the smallest glimmer of hope, he followed. Again I sobbed, my shallow chest and weak knees doing their best to support me. He wrapped his arms around me and I felt even more pain. My senses were dull and my thoughts were in a frenzy, like birds that clustered too fast in the evening sky, darting and clashing into one another violently. I could have passed out right there. My legs finally gave out from under me and he was forced to join me on the floor. I hated myself. I hated these feelings. I hated love. But Will? Will was everything.

He kept saying my name over and over again. It was so hard to let his words through. I didn’t want him to pity me and I would have given anything to just rewind time and stop myself from breaking down. This wasn’t love, was it? No, love was supposed to be consistent. I couldn’t just start loving him more than ever when I was facing the prospect of losing him. I should have been loving Will all the same, not just until the time was right. I felt sick thinking about how cold I was to him last night. And to seek out the comfort of another man right after that? I don’t care if I didn’t fuck him or kiss him or hold him. I knew what I was doing. I thought that my loneliness was more important than Will’s. That was why I didn’t deserve him. That was why we needed to be apart.

“Please, please don’t do this,” I finally heard his words clearly. They were rough and broken. “I—I know it’s not easy. But this isn’t healthy. This isn’t good for—for either one of us. Please…”

I couldn’t look at him. Not yet.

“I’ll always love you. You know that. I’m not…I’m not saying goodbye. I’m not going to just cut you off and wish you well. We’re friends and that won’t change. Just bear with me, please.”

I can do this. I wiped my eyelids with the back of my hand and looked up at him. He’d been crying too. I didn’t deserve him, oh God I didn’t deserve him. My arms flung around his neck instinctively and his body responded by rocking me back and forth.

I love you…I love you…” I whispered to him over and over again. He whispered back to me everything that I wanted to hear. The words pulled apart my ribs and planted both hope and terror within them. He pulled away from me slowly.

“You can stay here if you want, in the apartment. It’s up to you. I want to make sure you have somewhere to stay.”

“Wh—what? What are you talking about?”

His shoulders fell as you sighed.

“We can’t live together, you know that.”

“But—”

“There’s no ‘but’. We’re taking a break, we shouldn’t be living together. I have a place to go if you want to stay here.”

The thought of Tyler’s ex moving in with that random guy flashed in my head. I didn’t know how much longer I could bear the tightness in my chest. The only relief I had was that Will’s hands were still resting within reach, ready to catch me if need be.

“Where?”

“Dalton. He’s always had an extra room, plus I’m the only other person he can tolerate living with.”

I nodded slowly, still trying to come to terms with the reality of it all. He must have started talking to Dalton about moving before I got here. Part of him must have known how this was going to end. He had given in to defeat, accepted that things really weren’t working out between us and started planning for it. How wise, yet painful, of him to do.

“I can still help with bills if—” he offered. I held my hands up to stop his words.

“No I… I’ll find a roommate.”

He didn’t need to do anything else for me. He’d already done too much. By the look on his face it seemed like he could accept that. I was fighting hard not to burst into tears and trembles again.

“We both have things we need to understand about ourselves before we try anything like this again. And maybe…maybe it’ll turn out that we’re better off as friends.”

I couldn’t even force myself to nod. Why did I think of this all so horribly? Again, my shortcomings were being put in the spotlight of his gleaming soul. I brought this upon myself and I needed to come to terms with it. He was, at least, still blessing me with his friendship and support. Shouldn’t that be enough for me? The girl who always wanted more and more and more? She’d have to settle at some point. I could either give Will a solid friendship or a broken relationship and heaven knows that he’d disappear for good if it was the latter.

I was trying to save my mind from the glimpses of a future without Will. Instead of seeing us grow close again and enjoying our separate lives I saw his arm draped over another girl’s shoulders. I saw us hugging each other goodbye and him greeting her with a kiss. I saw us sitting across the table from one another and him holding her close in a booth. I saw our pictures getting buried while he took new ones with her. I saw us passing glances at a party and him fucking her in the bathroom. He must have felt my blood run cold.

“Come on,” Will began to stand up, oblivious to the thoughts in my head. “You should go lay down. I told Dalton and Rommel I’d meet up with them today.”

My eyes stayed to the floor as I got up. I felt his eyes of concern on my body but didn’t want to react to them. His hands remained steady on my shoulders.

“You know,” he began. “Some people lose their boyfriend and their best friend. You could be losing both but you’re not. You can look on the bright side sometimes, you don’t have to get used to the dark.”

He should know that better than anybody, but he was a hypocrite.

“Yeah…” I said pitifully. He tried planting a kiss on top of my head but I couldn’t feel it.

What would Will have done all those months ago had he seen the girl standing before him now? Not the bright, adventurous girl he got to know at the art festival. Not the glowing beauty he met at a concert. Not the voice of reason in his darkest nights or the fervent whisper in his burning neck. Not his pride and glory. Not his muse. Just me, the girl with shadows under her eyes and limp hair. The girl with a crooked posture and a constant smell of Marlboro lingering in the air around her. The girl with sad eyes and an even sadder heart. Would he have turned and ran? Picked another girl out of his pool of interests? Or would he have wanted me still? Would he have still invited me over to his place with the intent of kissing me and falling in love? I didn’t want to think about it. His faults made him softer, more understanding and empathetic with the world around him. My faults only brought distance and destruction.

“Go,” he said in a quiet voice. “Lay down if you want, just try and relax.”

I let go of him and started walking away. Each step felt heavier than the last. When I slumped into our room—my room, I took a sharp breath. All these memories would surely destroy me. I collapsed onto the bed and buried myself under the covers so that I wouldn’t have to see. His footsteps traversed the apartment a few more times before the front door opened and closed behind him. I was too weak to cry any more. All I could do was sleep and try my best to orchestrate my own dreams so that they would not stray to those awful places again.

He still wasn’t home when I woke up. The bed felt more empty than it ever had before. I immediately fished my phone out from under the covers. No messages from Will. I opened my notifications and saw that Tyler had added me on Facebook. When I brought the app up on my screen I started scrolling down my news feed. I saw Will’s face among the pictures. He was at a kickback with Dalton and the guys. A few more photos down I saw the rest of the group there which included a few girls. A hollow feeling started consuming my jealous heart.

Be rational, I thought quickly. He hasn’t had a night out in forever. Dalton probably convinced him.

Yeah right, the other half of me interrupted. He’s been tired of your shit. He knows it’s easier to find another girl and get over you fast.

I started exploring more of the photos and investigating the girls’ profiles. I’ve never been cheated on, ironically, let alone replaced within one night. The closest I’d even gotten to the feeling was when a guy chose to date one of my friends instead of me. I seemed to have a knack for pursuing the men I shouldn’t and falling in love at the wrong times. I was a hurricane of a person. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re inconsiderate. How do you love others when you don’t even love yourself? Arrogance and obsession wasn’t love. It took awhile for me to learn that.

I saw that I had an unread message from Tyler. I took a break from my snooping to open it and it read: “Sup, feelin better?

My anger stopped in its tracks. Now, how would Will feel if he’d seen that on my phone tonight? It would have been so obvious. Yet here I was fuming over the fact that he was in the vicinity of other females. My whole life was based on hypocrisy. It must have spoken volumes on my self-worth to be threatened that easily. Pathetic.

My thumbs floated over the keyboard and pondered a reply. He was online now so he’d be able to see it immediately. His profile picture was of him sitting coolly near a window, one knee propping up his arm while the other one hung down. He was looking out at the sky and squinting slightly in the sunlight. It was a well-taken photo and captured his essence of deep thought. It looked like the kind of photo Will would take of someone.

Eh. Still sleepy” I replied. A few seconds later it showed that he was typing back to me.

I’m sorry 😦 i know that feel” he said.

yeah…

howd your talk go

The weariness crept into my spine again. My thumbs made circles in the air above my screen.

we’re done. just friends now I guess.

He took a few extra seconds to reply this time.

I’m really sorry about that. it’ll hurt for awhile but everything happens for a reason, trust me.

The waves stopped crashing. I laid back down and put my phone beside me. Reminders of my old habits started ringing in my head again. No, I wasn’t going to do that. The last thing someone needed was another sad girl to weigh their shoulders down.

thank you Tyler. I think im gonna lay back down now” I typed.

alright, sleep well. it gets better

I was not very tired but I decided that my best option was to just sleep it out. Eventually I’d wake up, feel numb, go back to work, and have other things to worry about. Regardless, I knew that Will’s life would fall back on track faster than mine would.

I didn’t see him much for the next few days. We still texted each other but compared to the way that we used to talk it felt weak and detached. I had thought of at least fifty things I should have said to him that night but I never found the right moment. Even between our work schedules and social lives I would still run into him at the apartment in awkward silence. I could tell that he was trying to keep away from the place as much as possible until he was able to move. I hoped that it had little to do with me and more to do with the apartment itself. All I saw were memories whenever I was there so I tried adopting his same habit of going out with friends whenever the opportunity came up. The only difference was that at the end of the night I would come back and sleep alone while Will stayed at Dalton’s, or so I assumed.

I started coming home to little bits of his things packed at a time. He texted me at work saying that Dalton had cleaned out his spare room and given Will the green light to move in. I feigned happiness for him. I wasn’t sure what would be worse, an apartment that served as a reminder to Will everywhere I went or one that was entirely absent of his presence. I guess I’d find out soon.

This break up was different than the last. I wanted him back but I wasn’t always pining for him like I was last time. Some nights I felt fine with Will being away. I started going out on our balcony a lot more, hoping that the cool wind would refresh me. Even without rain the air between us felt still and humid, like an impending storm sickening the sky with green clouds. Our fiery passion had dimmed. I went from fits of tears to burning anger almost nightly, blasting sad songs and pulling my hair out. I was either wanting him home or wanting him to fall off the face of the earth. I kept wishing that he’d never even existed and reminded me of how fucked up I was. I wanted my senses to be burned off and my body to be hidden away. I felt useless. This time was different. Whether Will came back or not, I was either going to make a change or destroy myself in the process.

I hadn’t been putting enough real effort into finding a roommate. I knew that I needed to suck it up and do it soon before the next round of bills were due. I could afford to pay them by myself but it wouldn’t be necessarily easy. My only options were to find a better job or find someone who wouldn’t mind living with me in a one bedroom apartment. I would do anything except ask Will for money. I wasn’t going to be that person. He didn’t owe me shit. I, on the other hand, felt like I owed him the world on a silver platter.

When I finally got around to inquiring about roommates the prospects weren’t very hopeful. Most of my girlfriends were fine with their living situation, other ones had boyfriends that they’d want to bring along or simply didn’t feel like the place was big enough. Even my old roommate had soon replaced me with someone else when I moved out. I made a small attempt to do a job search but was soon reminded of how overwhelming the process was. I hadn’t been seriously job searching in awhile and it always intimidated me. My last-ditch effort was giving a tour of the apartment to a random friend of Alicia’s who was apparently looking for a place. Alicia described her as a “hippy” who probably wouldn’t mind the close living quarters which, admittedly, worried me at first. When I opened the door I expected to be met by a white girl with dreads, a crop top, and some sort of colorful loose-fitting pants or skirt. My stereotype wasn’t entirely correct however. She had feathery, shoulder-length violet ombre hair and Clubmaster’s resting on the bridge of her nose. She happened to be wearing a crop top, cardigan, and plain black leggings. While she was sporting jewelry on her ears, neck, and wrists, it didn’t look too encumbering. She also didn’t appear to be Caucasian, at least not entirely.

“Brooke?” she asked politely, her hands clutching the straps of her backpack for security.

“Yeah, Tara?”

She beamed. “Great to finally meet you!”

Before I knew it, she was embracing me. It seemed to end almost as quickly as it began. We’d been texting each other for a couple of days before meeting up and she was always friendly. Alicia thought her excessive kindness was weird. Then again, Alicia wasn’t used to being around people who don’t spend their days gossiping or shit-talking.

I moved back so that Tara could step inside. I’d made an extra effort to clean up after neglecting the chores for several days prior. By the way that Tara kept a smile on her face and paced around, I assumed that she wasn’t entirely disappointed yet.

“I don’t know what Alicia was talking about, we can work with this,” she said brightly.

“You think so?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Please,” she poked her head into our—my—room. “You should have seen the apartments I stayed in during college. Boring. My roommate and I Pinterest-ed the shit out of that place.”

I laughed. She was already starting to look like a good fit.

“So what made you leave?” I asked.

“Graduation,” she said simply. She turned back to look at me as if she could sense my confusion.

“Aren’t you..?”

“21? Yeah. I was home schooled. Started college when I was 16 with my best friend, Lana. My mom didn’t actually let me move out until I was 17.”

I blinked hard. Alicia can be so full of shit sometimes. She must have been jealous. Hell, I was jealous. All I had were a few years into a Liberal Arts degree and a short-lived band that hasn’t practiced together in years.

“That’s super cool,” I said.

“Thanks,” she said graciously.

“So…you think this would work for you?”

“Yeah, this is like, perfect for me. I promise I’m clean and quiet. Your house, your rules.”

“Awesome, looks like we have a deal.”

My body relaxed with relief. We had already talked about our lifestyles and we seemed pretty compatible. You never really know someone until you live with them—hell I should know that—but I had high hopes for Tara. She wasn’t a party girl, she wasn’t one to keep random guys around or have company over all the time. We discussed how to set up the apartment so that she could have her own living space. Both of us were single so we weren’t terribly dead set on privacy. She suggested that we could either separate the living room with a divider or switch out the bed in my room for two twin sizes. I didn’t feel like moving the entire bedroom around so we went out shopping to set up the living room for her to stay in. It was never utilized that much anyway unless we had people over and even then they could just hang out in the bedroom, I didn’t care. Tara turned out to be extremely crafty and creative. She was doing a graphic design internship downtown so it didn’t surprise me. After a week of tweaking and decorating the apartment she had her own cozy space to live in.

I told Will that Tara had moved in without a hitch and that the apartment was set up really nice. He appreciated the pictures I sent and part of me hoped that he’d want to come over and see it. He never brought it up.

After two weeks of living with Tara I decided that she was actually a decent roommate. She kept well to her word and I barely even noticed her there when we weren’t hanging out. Even better than that, we quickly become good friends and it helped stifle my mood swings. She was extremely introspective and mature, qualities that I was used to more in Will than in my other female friends. I loved talking to her simply for the fact that she looked me in the eyes and always sounded interested in what I had to say. She also spent a lot of time drawing or playing acoustic guitar. I actually considered getting back into singing again whenever I heard her play. Maybe surviving without Will wasn’t going to be so miserable after all. The distance was approaching comfortable levels but some days I still drifted through fairy tales of him coming back to me.

“Can’t live your life waiting on other people,” Tara said to me one day. We were sitting on the futon looking for music that she knew how to play on guitar and that I knew the lyrics to. While she scrolled through her laptop I had started telling her more about the last time Will and I broke up.

“I know…It’s just the day dreamer in me getting her hopes up,” I replied.

“Did you feel like you were the best version of yourself when you were together?”

“What do you mean?”

She took her guitar pick out of her mouth and stuck it in between her strings.

“I mean like, when you were with him were you a better person? Don’t get me wrong, you’re an awesome chick now but… Do you get what I’m saying?”

Her words processed in my brain for a few seconds.

“Kinda?” I said. Not really.

“Here’s the thing about relationships: We think it’s good enough to just have somebody now, to just be able to say that we aren’t single. But being with someone should lead to some kind of personal growth. Who cares if two people have been together for years in a perfect fairytale relationship if they, as individuals, are mediocre?”

“Wow, that’s actually a smart way to look at it.”

Tara nodded modestly. I know I wasn’t being the best version of myself with Will. He at least still had his photography and a solid job. In comparison to that I didn’t have much to offer, at least not in my eyes. I was a decent singer and song writer who didn’t put her talents to good use. Most of my friends were shallow people until Tara and Tyler came along. I got on Will for his lacking social life when we moved in together but at least he had some other things going for him. Guys were jealous that he was with me but only because of my looks. I had potential, I just wasn’t doing anything with it. I was either too wrapped up in Will or too wrapped up in myself. There didn’t seem to be much in between.

“I guess I just wanted to show him that I can be a better person,” I continued. “But at the same time I don’t know if we’re right for each other. He’s this amazing guy and I’m just some dumb confused girl.”

Tara’s eyes flicked to me sternly.

“You’re too hard on yourself. I bet if you really look back you’ll see that he made mistakes too.”

“Not as much as me,” I said plainly. She groaned irritably.

“He’s not some perfect demi-god. Once you stop looking at him that way it’ll be easier to move on. You want to move on don’t you? I think it’d be good for you.”

The gaze she held with those brown eyes was brimming with honesty. It was reassuring to know that she cared about me, not just about me and Will. When my other girlfriends found out that we’d broken up again they swore up and down that we needed to get back together because we were “so cute” and “perfect”. Social media may have been a window into our lives but the panes were far from clear.

“I think so too,” I told Tara.

What did he do wrong? I’ve thought about it before. Sometimes he was too needy, yes. Other times it was just me being selfish. Then there was the period after we moved in when he was lethargic and uninspired. I think he’d stopped taking his medicine for awhile. I don’t think I ever asked him why. If I did, it probably wasn’t in the nicest way. Maybe I’ll ask properly in the future.

Following Tara’s suggestion, I thought more about what was wrong with Will. He had a hard time taking “no” for an answer, just like me. His bitterness could really get to me sometimes and he could be relentlessly passive aggressive. I bet if I looked back at some of his needlessly angry texts I would feel less inclined to worship him. He had trust issues from his previous relationships and it screwed up the way he interacted with women. It made him have trouble accepting anything less than full commitment which is why we argued in the first place. At times he even seemed controlling, which seemed like one of the last words I would use to describe Will but…

There wasn’t really a grey area with Will. There was no “testing the waters”. We both had the same childish need for verification, me through the skin and him through the heart. In our relationship the needs were not balanced, however, and neither were they achieved the same way. He broke me down, made me feel downright inhuman for my mistakes. He used my insecurities against me. That’s not fair, is it? Sure, we could be at each other’s throats but what if only one of us draws blood?

Again I thought about the one-sided peek into his romantic past. I didn’t know about every girl who’d kissed his lips. I wondered what their stories were. Could they all have been that bad?

“Oh hey,” Tara said, grabbing her pick again. My mind returned to the real world. “You know this one don’t you?”

I peered over at the screen. She’d finally found a song that we both knew. Tara was eager to hear me sing but I felt nervous about it. Once she started playing along with the song I could already feel the desire reaching back up through my throat again. Tara glanced at me as she played, listening to my shaky vocals until I found the confidence in my voice once again. She started singing along too and it felt nice. It reminded me of the times Will and I used to sing in the car on those long midnight drives.

“There we go! That was awesome!” Tara said when we finished the song. She started clapping for me and I couldn’t help but smile. We made quite the musical pair.

“Really?”

“Uh, yeah.”

I looked back at her beautiful, glowing face. I hope Tara sticks around. She might help me become a better person yet.

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