I had made excuses to stay away over Thanksgiving but gave in and went home for Christmas break. Nine days of it anyway. And now I was back in Virginia. Carrying those memories, that baggage, the confusion and hurt and anger of New Year’s. Tony is dead, I thought, for the millionth time. Five twenty-seven p.m. I descended into baggage claim.
She stood alone by a vacant rental car counter. Kacie had come for me. As expected.
We’d met in a high school creative writing class sophomore year. She was new and she wrote poetry and I wrote skateboard action scenes. Tony said she was pretty and I told him she would be mine before spring break. On our first date, we drove around looking at Christmas lights and she tucked her hand into the pocket of my suit jacket. In my parents’ living room with the Disney animated Beauty and the Beast on VHS, we snuggled close and I could smell her vanilla body lotion. When the credits rolled, that tender Celine Dion song came on and I drew her off the couch and into my arms and we slow danced and she sang softly in my ear.
Baggage claim was crowded with arrivals and greeters embracing, pressing their faces into one another’s necks, their intimacy resonating from them like careless echoes thrown against cave walls.
Kacie’s elbows pressed into her ribs, a white rose perched in front of her. I once gave her five roses: one for each of my senses she’d enchanted. She had her hair pulled back into a cloth band and her skin was pale. She had gained weight and her cheeks were still red from the air outside as if, like me, she’d only just arrived. She wore a black pea coat with large brass buttons, fake vintage from Banana Republic.
I walked slowly, deafened and disoriented, as if underwater.
Before she could speak, I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her against me. Her arms slipped behind my neck and her hot cheek pressed against mine. I smelled her shampoo, her skin, that vanilla lotion, and the tears I’d been holding back swelled into my eyes.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish