Chapter 10 - Sad girl

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Make sure you read the last chapter of Part 1 published off schedule.

Almost a year later...

Ella stayed in bed most of the day. She was just not in the mood for a happy family Sunday. She knew her mother would call her later to check up on her. The night before was the last performance of the school musical. The previous two weeks, she hadn't had a moment to think which was a good thing since she usually spent too much time thinking about the one person that she shouldn't. As much as she loved her musical season it was full of sad reminders. At the end of last night's performance, her parents gave her flowers, but they weren't the red roses that she used to receive. During tech week, she started working through her dinner break because those breaks also brought back sad memories. She really didn't eat much anymore, since she often felt a lump in her throat whenever she tried to swallow.

She was just too tired and lonely. She told herself she wouldn't but she went on Facebook. She liked to imagine that he might check on hers too. She didn't learn anything new. She knew he was teaching, but there was never anything personal, not even his status. He posted very few pictures, but there was a new one of Joe with his sister and brother on his brother's seventeenth birthday. They were smiling. She assumed the wife had taken the picture. She had studied his face for hours. He looked the same, but was there a sadness behind his smile or was she just imagining it?

Was it not quite a year? Ella felt like it could be a decade since she came home to find a letter. He wrote that although he would always love her, he couldn't come back. He had to stay home to take care of his brother and sister. Killing her argument that she should come, he wrote, I know you'll want to come, but you can't. My mother's dying wish is that I marry Whitney. I love my mother so ...

That was the day that her heart broke into a million pieces. She took sick days for the rest of the week and wept. When she went back to school she learned that his mother had passed and he had formally resigned. That was the last time, she heard him mentioned at school at least by the staff. Kids were too insensitive and would often ask what happened to her boyfriend. She still heard kids talking about how much they loved and missed Mr. Walch.

Being in school without him was almost more than she could bear. She loved her job, but the pain of the heartbreak took her joy away. She would embarrass herself by calling him. Occasionally he would answer, but typically she'd be drunk and leave a long rambling message. He had asked her to stop and she tried. She really did.

Somehow she made it through to summer break, thanks to Ava's support. Ella had thought she'd be engaged by summer, but instead of a ring, she had a broken heart. Later that fall, the entire world turned upside down for her family, when her grandfather suffered a stroke and died.

She called Joe late one night and he answered. They cried together and all she remembered was him saying over and over that he was sorry and he would always love her and he even added "more than words". She started to move on bit by bit after that. After all, how could she mourn a man that was still alive? Her grandmother was mourning her husband and true love. Somewhere deep inside she held on the thought that if he loved her, he'd come back for her. Intellectually she knew she was just a fool.

Ella moved to an apartment in the neighboring town where the rents were cheaper. She told her family that she wanted to be independent, but she really just wanted to be alone. There were days when she didn't want to get out of bed. Other days she wanted to run home and cry in her mother's arms.

All the pain could surface in a heartbeat. How could she still love him? She could still hear him crying, I'll always love you, more than words.

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