44 | Letting Go and Freeing Me
It feels like it’s been ages since I was last here but I know it has only been a little over than a month.
I returned two nights ago from the trip I took with my best friends for the Spring Break. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, just the three of us driving from town to town and staying not more than two nights in a place. This road trip was something I really needed, to clear my head. It was like a cleanse your soul process and I loved every minute of these ten days I was away from home.
It didn’t feel out of place at all, when I started uploading the pictures of the three of us on my social media with a variety of best friend captions. This trip also was the bonding period of the three of us and if it was possible, we were closer and stronger than before. I never thought that my acceptance of someone’s offer of friendship could cause someone immense happiness but Tracy’s smile did say otherwise.
We also managed to surprise the school population when Sean and Veronica both commented on our pictures and just to return the favor, I commented several hearts on their couple picture on Sean’s account. The funniest thing was that someone had viraled a screenshot of the school’s gossip chat group who were talking about this not so tragic tragedy.
But now, I was back home and I was ready to take the last jump, to make things with the last person who deserved to be hurt by me, the last person I intended to lose. And I was ready for it.
To make things right. To have him back, this time, the right way.
And I was ready to do whatever it would take.
So here I was, standing outside my haven, Cafe Holden, ready to take the dive into this ocean of feelings. Now it’s upto him to let me drown or hold on me, keeping on the surface.
I push open the glass doors and step inside, a smile lighting up my lips when I see the cafe, still empty as usual but alive nonetheless. There’s no one at the counter and I frown a little, thinking that maybe he saw me and escaped into the kitchen but those thoughts soon flow out of the window when Emilia exits the kitchen.
Her eyes snap to mine and widen in shock before she passes on a tired smile. “Hey.”
“Hey Emmy.” I smile hesitantly and make my way closer towards the counter. “How are you?”
“I’m still alive, that’s what matters, doesn’t it?” She jokes. “But you’ve not been around lately.”
I purse my lips and nod slightly. “Yeah, I’ve been...... busy figuring my shit out.” I say which is not exactly a lie.
She looks at me as if trying to figure out my thoughts. “Axel told me, Leah.” I’m not surprised. I had guessed he would have. Since I don’t know of any of his friends, I thought he’s confide in his cousin so I just nod, acknowledging what she said. “I know it wasn’t his place to tell, but he was a mess. I had to force him to speak.”
“It’s okay. I don’t mind.” I swallow down my saliva to nurse my clogged throat. “Is he not here? I kind of need to talk to him.”
Emilia purses her lips and looks away. “I don’t think that is a good idea.”
I sigh and lean on the counter. “I know I don’t deserve it, but I need this chance, Em. I have to make things right. If not for me, then for him. This is the least he deserves after whatever I did. So please tell me, where is he?”
She sighs and runs a hand through her hair, giving in. “He hasn’t been managing it here since, well, since that day. But you can have a seat, I’ll call him down here.”
I nod and let her go to fetch her brother. I look around the cafe, fearing that this might be the last time I’m here and I take in every little detail. The wind chime, the booth that has been my home for past few months, the Valentine’s Day decorations that still haven’t been taken down, the soft grunge decor, the smell of coffee and sweeteners in the air, everything I’m more familiar than myself.
The slight noise behind me pulls at my attention and I turn around to see Axel standing at the threshold of the kitchen and main are, frozen in his place on seeing me. His expressions are impassive but his eyes are playing a slideshow of emotions, hurt being the only one I’m aware of. Instead of looking away, as my neck is urging to, I smile slightly. “Hey.”
“It’s you.” He says simply. “Emmy said it’s someone important.”
Ouch. “I see that I’m not important.” I wince saying that.
His eyes widen momentarily before they normalize and he walks towards the counter, still at a safe distance from me. “You know I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Do I?” I ask. He looks away, not answering my rhetorical question, not that I expected him to.
“Can we talk?”
“Why are you here?”
We voice out our questions together and he meets my eyes for a split second before shaking his head and looking away. “Every time I hear someone say that sentence, I’m automatically scared.”
I sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose. “I’m here to make things right, Axel.”
Maybe it was the desperate tone of my voice or the pleading look in my eyes that I see his demeanor loosening. “You don’t think that I’ll make you coffee and have a wonderful chat, now do you?”
I shake my head. “I wouldn’t expect you to.”
He cocks a brow and tilts his head, crossing his arms on his chest. “How long has it been since you last had a cup of coffee?”
My eyes widen at the totally unexpected question and I blush, looking away. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” I say, not wanting to lie but not wanting to look pathetic by accepting the truth either. In all honestly, I haven’t had coffee since the day Axel kissed me right here, on this counter, and I ran away. That too, was only a few sips. “So, can we talk?” I ask, diverting his attention.
“Talk?” He says, nodding his head at me to continue.
“Eh-” I hesitate. “Somewhere else?”
His eyes look uncomfortable. “Like the park?”
I can see he doesn’t want to go there and neither do I. “I was thinking the cliff would be more appropriate for what I’m about to tell you.”
“Should I be scared?” He looks wary and reluctant.
I chuckle slightly. “I won’t push you from up there, if that’s what you’re afraid of.” I joke but when I look back at his face, I smile. “I won’t let you fall, and if you do, I’ll jump after you.”
He seems reluctant at first but my words do the magic and sighs, nodding. “I’ll bring the truck out.”
I nod eagerly and turn on my heels, walking out of the main doors as he disappears into the kitchen. I walk to the edge of the alley and I hear the engine of his truck rumbling and soon, he backs it up on the road. I join him in and he doesn’t wait before driving away up towards the cliff.
The car ride, as usual is silent between us. But even after all that happened, it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. Strangely, it feels like exactly where I belong and there’s no stopping the smile that plays on my lips as I relish in this new feeling, this giddiness that surrounds me when I’m around his gray eyed boy.
It doesn’t take us long to reach the familiar spot and as he parks the truck in the usual way he does when he comes up here, I walk up to the edge of the cliff, as close as I can with the wired fence being the barrier.
The city looks so small from up here and it’s a little colder than what it was down there, not that I mind. I love this coolness. It would only take a dumb person a few guessed to know that winter is my favorite season and I love cold weathers.
When I get closer to the edge of the cliff, my mind jumps back to the cliff I saw that graffiti art that one time while walking to the cafe after school. The mural of the girl standing right at this cliff, arms spread wide and that content look on her face. The mural titled freedom.
I don’t know what comes to me when I’ve already tried it once but I spread my hands beside me and close my eyes, taking in this feeling. It feels different than the last time, and I don’t know if this is what freedom feels like, but I can swear that I’m close to it. And even if I’m not, at least I’m happy and content. Yes, I’m content right now. And even if this talk with Axel doesn’t go well, this moment, right here with him close around, I’m content.
“The mural?” The voice of the boy in my thoughts comes from behind me, closer than I had expected him to be.
I open my eyes and look over my shoulder to see him right behind me and I smile slightly. “You remember.”
His eyes lock with mine in an intense gaze and after a moment, he steps forward, still not breaking the eye contact. He raises his hand up, making me frown in confusion, and brings it to my hair, free it from the ponytail I have been tying it up in, except for that one time on New Year’s eve. Even on Valentine’s Day, I had my golden hair wrapped in a lose ponytail. “Now, it’s perfect, just like that mural.” He says softly, his voice just an octave above a whisper.
In that moment, the only thing I want to do is scream that I love him and let him hear all the echos until he believes that I really do.
He steps back a little, a hesitant smile on his lips. I return it back and turn back to the view in front of me, shaking my head a little and letting my hair flow freely. This time, when I close my eyes, the feeling of freedom hits home.
I remember refusing to let my hair open after my fall out with Sean, after I caught him kissing Veronica and now that Axel has finally let it lose, like he has done with my tight hold of feelings on my ex, I can feel the clutches breaking down, one by one and setting me free.
I’m no longer tied to the ground anymore. I’m free to fly again, and free to fall. I just hope that Axel will hold onto my hand and fly and fall with me when I stretch it out for him to take.
In that moment, I realize that this is what freedom feels like and I’m sure of it.
I open my eyes, smiling freely and tun around to see Axel with his phone out and I chuckle at the realization that he is clicking a picture of me, again.
His cheeks tinge pink and he puts his phone away, clearing his throat. “It’s not what you think.”
“I never said it was.” I let out a laugh. Turning back towards the view, passing him a fleeting glance, I call out to him. “Axel?”
“I know that this is not Titanic but will you give me that cliche moment right here?” I face him and smile, hoping it convinces him. “Please?”
He chuckles to himself and shakes his head, walking back towards me. My heart skips a beat when his hands slide down to my waist, holding me at the sides as his head comes to rest on my shoulder. I face the front, hiding my blushing cheeks from him and spread my hands again, hoping to feel what Rose or Kate must have felt when Jack or Leo must have done this with her.
I’m surprised when Axel’s hands join my spread ones. “Is this Titanic enough?” He asks and I can hear humor laced embarrassment in his voice. I have no doubt that if I turn around, he’ll be blushing, just like me.
I let out a chuckle and nod. “It’s more than enough.” I say truthfully, smiling all while.
He sighs behind me, bringing both our hands down and wrapping our arms around my waist, I can feel his cheeks stretching into a small smile as his head still rests on my shoulder.
This moment, right here with Axel, my Mr. Scowls who smiles at me and makes my heart warm in the coldest of days, it’s perfect. And the best part is that it doesn’t feel like being tied down. It’s free - him and I - we’re free. Free flying, free falling.