Chapter 21.

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Let her fly.

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I stirred awake, letting out a groan as I sit up from my spot on the couch. I rub my eyes and hear laughter coming from the kitchen. I pull the knitted blanket off and run a hand through my hair before heading to the kitchen to see what all the commotion is for. I notice Abel, Thomas and Melody eating cereal and drinking juice. "Morning, Daddy." Melody greets me, and I run a hand through her dark hair, kissing the top of her head.

"How'd everyone sleep?" I ask before making myself a bowl of cereal.

Abel shrugs, "I slept okay." And we went down the line, talking about how well, or unwell each of us slept. I look around the kitchen and can't find Al, and then I notice that her truck is gone.

"Where's mom?" I ask them, taking a bite of my cereal.

"Farmer's market." Thomas tells me, continuing his breakfast. "We got the day off because you're here."

I nod, "When does it end?"

Abel looks over at the clock and then back at me, "2. It's only noon, Dad." I watch as he continues to eat his breakfast, "Maybe we can stop by and get mom some flowers? Her favorite florist is there this weekend and they always sell sunflowers and roses. Mom's favorite."

I chuckle and nod, patting his head as I stand up. "Yeah, we can do that. How far is it?"

Abel shrugs, "It's like a fifteen-minute walk, Mom just uses the truck to carry everything down."

"Let me shower and get ready and then we can walk down, sound good?" The kids nod, and I nod back in agreement before heading to the living room to grab my smokes and lighter. I walk out to the deck and light a cigarette, leaning on the railing that wraps around the large patio.

I wish I could say last night went well. We ate dinner and then everyone grouped off. Abel and Al went and watched a movie, Melody and Thomas fell asleep in the living room. I woke up and moved them to their rooms in the middle of the night and noticed that Abel and Al had fallen asleep in her California King bed.

It's no surprise to me that Abel is protective over Al, he always has been, even when we first started dating. He would always ask about her and worry if he didn't get to see her. Maybe it's because they bonded more than most do, but they spent every day together for years, and what they have is irreplaceable. You would never be able to separate the two of them because the love that they have for each other is absolutely endless.

I wasn't able to talk to Al last night, and frankly, I don't think she wanted anything to do with me. Can you blame her? I don't know what I'm doing. I showed up to her house unannounced after four years, and then tell her that I'm going back to Charming. I should've never came here before figuring my shit out, and it's irresponsible and selfish- she's completely right.

I thought about her every day for the last four years. I wondered if she met someone new, if she was happy and safe. I wondered about her teaching career, about the house and how she designed the inside. I wondered about what new hobbies she would've gotten into, and how she was raising the kids. I wondered about the men who would be captivated by her walk, her eyes, her personality and large heart. Any man is lucky to have her, and there wasn't a night where I feared her meeting someone new who would give her what she deserves.

She deserves the world. She deserves safety and security, a normal life. I can't give her any of that, and it's selfish of me to refuse to sign divorce papers, and to continue this game of false hope and disappointment. How are you supposed to let go of the person who gives your life meaning? Without her, I'm nothing. Without Al, I see no reason to get better, to make an effort to be happy or healthy. She's always pushed me to be the best person I can possibly be, and of course my kids help motivate me, but it's impossible to give up your soulmate, especially without a fight.

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