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Her name was Ava and she was broken. She was buttoning her purple jacket which was not warm. She put her hat on which fell off. Life was like that. It didn’t matter. Not a whole lot meant anything to her anymore. She cared about her best friend, her sister, and that was about it.
She felt so much and it was unbearable. She felt like she was dying, falling, changing. She didn’t know what to do. When she was ready she entered the blizzard. It was once a beautiful green world and now it was dead, hidden under white.
“Ava.” It was her best friend Evan calling out to her. He ran through the snow, tripped and fell, and got back up. When he got up Ava was standing right there. “Hi Evan,” She whispered.
Evan wrapped his arms around her. Evan had always been that way, he would never change. He was the same wonderful person Ava fell in love with all those years ago. They dated for awhile because it seemed to make sense but they mutually ended it and both got burnt in the fire that was their breakup. She was wrong, he was hurt. It was how it happened.
Time couldn’t keep them apart. Evan was knocking on Ava’s door just so they could sit on the stoop facing the setting sun igniting their faces while he tried to apologize. He used his hands to talk and he tried to make it easy.
Ava leaned against him while he did, and she knew she would never know anyone better than him. It was out of the question, he was everything to her. They never got back together. Friendship remained, love bloomed, and they never said what they really wanted to say. It was complicated and painful and often stupid.
“Are you okay?”
Ava wiped her eyes with her sleeve and nodded. “Yes.” This relationship dug through her skin and into her bones and it made her nearly collapse. She wanted to be with him. But friendship was the right thing. Everyday she was afraid of losing him.
She could tell him the truth and maybe stop her heart from breaking. “Evan, I’m really cold. Can we walk over to Dunkin Donuts?”
He nodded and they started walking with his arm still around her. Last year he got her a flower. He left a single violet on her bed and when she walked in there was a note with it. “I love you Ava, my heroine.” She had the flower saved between pages of the journal he gave her for her birthday. She had the journal under her arm. It had been awhile since he kissed her, told her he loved her. They were not dating, what did she except?
Dunkin Donuts was around the corner and down the street a little bit. It was an amber city lit by flickering lights and dusty with snow. No one was out but them. Evan opened the door for her. She got a hot chocolate, he watched her drink it.
Evan was knee deep in compassion for people who struggled with pain. He always knew the right thing to say to help Ava without even trying. He said what he thought and it helped. Just like that.
She had a loving family but somehow it didn’t feel like it. Ava’s mom looked at her and didn’t like what she saw. Her mom saw herself. Ava’s dad didn’t like what he saw either.
He usually saw Ava’s mother too. Mostly he saw a downfall of a child and he didn’t like to look too long. It wasn’t Ava’s fault. She didn’t mean to become this. She broke. There were bits of pieces inside of her that light shone through because she had holes where something was missing. Ava wanted a safe place to fall, a fixed heart even if it required tape, and to stop controlling everything. If she didn’t control everything she would lose everything. The root was fear. It was like a swarm of bugs inside of her eating her away.
There was confidence in the sea bashing itself against Washington . She was in New Hampshire . A new coast, an ocean…could swallow her up, make her disappear?
Ava finished her hot chocolate. “What are you thinking Evan?”
“I have no idea.” He leaned back, stretched, yawned, and smiled. They continued to sit at the table in Dunkin Donuts in the corner against the window. A haze of a city lingered outside the glass. She knew she would begin to look out for herself at some point. She would look out for herself from herself; she was her own worst enemy. She had the big guns, the photographs, the arguments that were undeniable.
“What are you thinking?” He asked.
Ava rubbed her finger around the rim of her empty cup. Finally, she looked up. “Let’s get out of here.” She got up and took off running. Evan followed after her not out of interest but because he was worried. “Ava! Where are you going to go? It’s eleven on a Saturday night in January.”
Ava kept running. Evan followed her into the snow. They stopped in front of his house. “You brought me to my house?” Evan was confused.
“Let’s go inside. Your parents are in New York still right?” Evan’s parents, Laurie and Peter were on a vacation to the big apple. They would be back in a day or two. They were amazing people who adopted Ava into their home happily. They were like that, kind and sensitive. Evan was like them. They were the people Ava needed in her life. She wanted them in her life. Peter was more talkative than Laurie and he told Ava she was beautiful from the inside out, and that she was welcome there.
Evan unlocked the door. Ava was the first one to go inside to stand there while he shuffled past her and turned the hallway light on. He looked at her awkwardly. “Home sweet home, Ave…” He called her Ave sometimes.
She had wishes and realism wafting through her head. Evan took her hand to lead her to the couch where they sat down together. He didn’t turn the TV on. He didn’t turn the light on. She stared straight ahead in the darkness. “Ava, I need to talk to you.”
“I think of you as someone who is utterly indescribably complexly extraordinary and I am letting go of everything here, I could drag myself across the broken glass to get to you and kill myself trying to find out you were never going to come with me, but I am going to do it anyways.” Evan paused, covered his face with his hands. When he looked up his face was red, eyes wet.
Ava put her fingers on his face, under his eyes. She held her hands up and looked at him. He laced his fingers through her hands. He exhaled heavily. He was tired, so tired, so tired. She smiled. Evan was drowning in adoration for her.
“Want me to tell you a story?” She asked, touching his hair. He had dark hair that looked red sometimes. He liked to push his hair straight up in the air or just run his fingers through it and leave it. She loved it. His eyes were dark and big and gorgeous.
“Tell me a story, sure. But tell me one about you. Tell me about you. That’s what I love.”
Ava sighed and looked down.
“Did I say something wrong?” Evan wiped his eyes.
“Here, let me do that.” Ava said gently, and wiped his eyes. Evan smiled. “I think you’re coming back, I think you’re coming home.” He said. He was full out crying now. She got on her knees and faced him. He was still facing straight ahead, his feet touching the floor. She grabbed his hands.
“I love you Evan. You could misplace me, space me, whatever you want, but I’m not keeping this secret anymore. I won’t take this back, turn around, or fall down. Not right now. I love you. It is the thing that kills me every single day and what pulls me through. It makes me smile and laugh through my tears. I love you more than anything.”
“You do?” Evan looked at her, smiling. He started wiping her tears. Ava never hid them from him. Her tears were like capsules of time and memory buried inside her and she finally let it out. Ava thought no one would like her if she cried, if she was a mess. With him she could just breathe, she could just be herself.
They stopped crying, he counted backwards, inhaled. Suddenly he turned and kissed her. He could erase that moment, rewind it, or consider it. It happened, it scared him. He did it again. He tried to be sane in that moment but all he could do was kiss her a third time. He tried to stop, to sit back. But he leaned over and looked into her eyes.
The front door slammed open. “Evan? We’re home.”
Ava and Evan sat up. “You’re home early…” Evan called out. Footsteps got closer. “Hi, I didn’t expect to find you here Ava, this is nice.” Laurie said. She dropped her purse. Peter wheeled in the suitcase, “hi Ava.”
Laurie tilted her head and made a face. She made a point to leave them alone. “How was your trip?” Ava asked.
“It was good. We’re going to go get a coffee. We’ll be back in ten.” In a second they were gone.
It’s not that Evan wasn’t ready to tell his parents he was back with Ava, or that his parents were ready to see him back with Ava. It was something good inside that house that was home to Ava and his parents knew when to leave them alone.
“Wow that was unexpected.” Evan mumbled. He looked disheveled. “I love my parents. They’re the best.” He grinned. “The trust me too, can’t you tell?”
“Yes.” Ava laughed, “I can tell.”