47 | Letting Go, Axel, Myself and See You Again
Changes are a big part of life. Everything you once knew would eventually change into something totally different, something you weren’t used to. The burning fire will die out and the frozen ice would melt. It is as inevitable as playing with fire and not getting hurt. Things change and sometimes, even people too, and you can’t do anything about it. and when they change, they just pack up and walk out on you as if they never cared for you, never loved you, not caring what would happen to you without them, after they are gone.
It hurts like a bitch, at first.
But then you get used to it.
When the change is new to you, you can’t figure out how to deal with it. You’ll probably cry yourself to sleep, wondering where things went wrong and if it was you who caused it. There will be times where you’ll wake up in the middle of the night thinking that you’re all alone in this world full of people. Soon, wonder will end up with a conclusion that you are the one to blame for everything that ever went wrong. You’ll thing that you are responsible for them changing and will blame yourself for screwing things up.
After the initial blame game is over, you’ll start getting used to the new way things are, to the way life is without them. Memories you had with them will haunt you every waking moment and your nightmares will play the same movie of them changing and leaving you alone to fend for yourself but every time you wake up to face the reality, you’ll realize that it’s already been done and you won’t have to face it again. You’ll tell yourself to get your shit together and face the day.
After sometime, you will realize that just facing it alone won’t do you any good. Sure you’ve accepted the fact that they changed and left but your pent up pain will need a release. You will have to turn on the radio on full blast until you could feel the melody flowing in your veins and the bass thumping in your heart. You will want to scream and cry and feel every type of emotion you have stopped yourself from feeling until you cocoon yourself in a shield of protection until all of it is over just like your nightmares when it’s morning but when you realize that the reality is eerily similar to the constant nightmares, you’ll have to search for an outlet.
Throughout this point, you’ll get lost. And somehow, you’ll also find a way to discover yourself. You’ll find the missing parts of your broken soul in strangest of places that you didn’t even notice going missing when they broke you. You’ll find a piece of yourself when you’re hiding under your blanket, drinking your tears at 3:00 am. You’ll find another part that you left in that smelly washroom cubicle that you were hiding in during lunch, thinking about all the new rumors about you spreading throughout school. You’ll find another piece of you while walking down to that cafe that has grown on you, while your eyes frantically search around for a source to glue you back.
And then one day, you’ll have found all of yourself in the middle of nowhere and you’ll find your glue in a place you never thought you would. You’ll realize that like people, things change too, for good and for bad. Fake smiles will turn into real ones and broken will become alright. Days will turn into weeks and then months and ultimately, a year and when you least expect it, everything will finally be okay.
And that is when you will thank yourself for not losing yourself when you were lost. You will be grateful that you held onto you tight and didn’t let go until you were okay. Until okay meant okay.
I have seen it all, lived it all and now, I’m happy. I’m okay. My smiles are no more genuine for other people but me. I don’t feel like I have to be happy so that others won’t be sad because of me. I’m happy because I feel happy. And I’m okay because I feel okay.
My broken heart will never be the same again. Sure I glued back the pieces with the help of Axel and everyone else but just as you can’t join a broken plate back to a smooth surface, you can’t join a broken heart back to perfection either. There will be scars but the ache would no longer be there. I am healed, it doesn’t hurt anymore and that is all I could have wished for when I was breaking.
I smile as I go over my thoughts, reminiscing the long way I’d come. The sound of the printer distracts me and brings me back to reality and I smile wider when all the pages are out. I check each one of them, going over everything once and then arranging them in a series. I then mark two wholes on the side of the stack of papers and pass a ribbon from them, tying it all together like a makeshift book.
I walk out of Mom’s office and back into my room, putting the papers on my desk before I walk into my closet and bringing out all the things I had pre-arranged. It takes two trips to bring it all out and throw on the carpeted floor near my bed. One of those two times, my gaze fell onto a familiar maroon hoodie and a midnight blue suit jacket - my two most prized possessions that I’ve had since the day I first laid my hands on them.
After making sure everything is there, I bend down and take our a carton from under my bed and wrap it back into a box from it’s sleeping form. Then I start putting in the things.
A school’s football jersey comes first with Cooper 41 written on the back and I remember it from back in freshman year, the same one he had worn the day he had kissed me and told the school that I was his girlfriend. I smile at the memory as I carefully fold it and place it inside.
Then there’s this black extra large hoodie that I was sure was oversized for Sean himself until I saw him wear it. He had lend it to me and never asked back. It is folded neatly and placed back in the carton too, along with the his shirt that I’d worn after I’d lost my virginity to him. I don’t regret it, it was what I had wanted at that time but now, I wouldn’t want to do it all over again with anyone else other than my present boyfriend.
Many other things, including all the gifts Sean had ever given to me, the stuffed toys, the keychains, the sweaters, the caps of my first beer he had sneaked in for me on my sixteenth birthday, the cards he’d bought for me on Valentine’s day, the several polaroids from when I first met Blaine, Sean’s stepdad, keeping a few that looked platonic for memories’ sake and everything else that held me back from moving on completely.
As I’m packing it all up, I can’t help but remember the first time Kevin made the bonfire, urging me to burn it all down and how hesitant I had been back then Today, it seems the easiest thing to do, even though I kept back some pictures. But then again, those are pictures, like I saved a few with Veronica too to add to my scrapbook of memories.
When I’m done, I place the stack of papers I printed out on the top before taping the box completely. It isn’t that heavy so I easily carry it down myself.
“Honey, where are you off to? Your flight is in a few hours.” Mom asks when she sees me walking towards the door. “And what’s that?”
I smile back at her over the carton. “Mom, I just need to be out for a while. I’ll be back in no more than an hour, I promise.”
I barely register her nodding as I walk to my slate gray Maserati that I got as my graduation present. Initially I wasn’t too comfortable with having such a luxury car to drive around but the twinkle in Axel’s eyes had me accepting the keys quicker than flash. I haven’t even driven it around much, I mostly like to walk or roam around the town on my bike, having gotten used to it in the last few months. But when I’m with Axel, he drives it while I watch him awing and fawning over the car. I miss his truck at times but oh well, my boyfriend’s smile matters more.
Sighing, I place the carton in the backseat and get into the driving seat, backing out from the driveway and onto the road towards a familiar house.
Sean’s house isn’t that far from mine, just a few blocks down the road and I could have easily walked over if I didn’t have this luggage with me. As we were both from rich, posh families, our houses were in the same area and it had once worked amazing for us, sneaking out like teens and all.
When I get there, I don’t pull into the driveway like I usually would have done. Instead, I park just outside the gates and get out, taking the carton with me and push open the gates as I already knew the code. Walking around, I take in all of my surroundings, trying to remember the last time I was here. It’s exactly like what I remember but it lacks the familiarity it once had running through my veins.
I shake my head and walk up the wrap around porch steps, standing right in front of the door. I put the box down before ringing the doorbell and wait, tapping my foot, for someone to open.
The door is answered soon and an older man I’m way too familiar with is atnding there, looking at me with shocked eyes. “Leah?” He calls, guilty look flooding his eyes. Why should he be guilty for his son’s deeds. “It’s been long.” He says, scratching the back of his neck.
I smile genuinely at him. “Hi Blaine, it’s nice to see you again.”
He nods. “You too. Would you like to some inside?”
I shake my head. “No, thanks. I’m good. I actually have to leave soon, I have a flight to catch so if you could call Sean?” I plead.
He looks at me and sighs, nodding. He turns to go but then turns back around to face me. “Leah?” My head snaps to meet his eyes when he says my name with fatherly warmth. “I’m sorry for whatever Sean did, I really am. But just know that I’d still be a father figure to you if you need me. You’d still be my daughter, no matter what.”
I smile at the sincerity and warmth in his words. “Thanks, Blaine. I’ll keep that in mind.”
He nods and smiles warmly at me before disappearing back inside his house. I turn around, taking in the area once again while I wait for Sean to come down.
“Leah?” His voice calls me after a while and I turn to face him.
“Sean.” I nod.
“Hey.” He says warily, stepping out. “What’s up?”
I shrug and roll my eyes. “I’m not here to catch up with you.” I say and he raises a brow asking me why exactly I was there. “I had some of your things at my place that I’d like to return.” I tell him, nodding towards the carton I had pushed aside the wall.
His eyes travel back and forth between me and the box and I nod. “Go ahead.”
He sighs and brings out his keys that has a swissknife and cuts open the duct tape, opening the carton box. He takes a peek inside and looks back at me. “What is it?”
“Look for yourself.” I say, folding my arms on my chest.
He stares at me intensely and I stare back, making him back away. He sighs and takes out the stack of papers first, going though the first few pages and then gulps visibly, meeting my eyes. He places the papers on the porch swing and takes out our polaroids, going through each one of them and taking a minute to place them on the papers.
He shuffles through all the other things inside, ruining everything I had arranged perfectly but I don’t care. He chuckles bitterly to himself, still sitting on his hunches and looks up to meet my eyes. “You’re really throwing me out of your life, aren’t you?”
I swallow back the hurtful words I want to say but I realize I shouldn’t because I really don’t care now. “I’m moving on, Sean. Starting a new life. SO I have to make space for the new memories I want to cherish with the person I love. And for that, I have to clear away the space and get rid of the bad memories I don’t need.”
“So I’m just a bad memory?” He asks, his eyes pleading me to deny it.
I shake my head and smile sadly. “You once were my favorite memory, Shawnie, but now, you’re just a good memory. And you’ll always be that but never a bad memory. I don’t regret you. In fact, I’m grateful for you coming into my life when you did and teaching me lessons that made me a better person. But I don’t need these things to preserve the good times I had with you. They will forever be locked in my heart. And even if I’m not in love with you anymore, I’ll always love you for who you were once to me.”
He stands up, hands in his pockets as he looks down at his feet and then meets my eyes. “I will always love you too, just not like the way we both expected it to be.”
“It doesn’t matter now.” I shrug. “I just wanted to drop these things here. I couldn’t throw it away because it would mean throwing your memories away. So I’m giving it to you, like I gave you a part of me. Do whatever you want to of all this, throw it away, burn it, keep it in your closet, I don’t care. It’s all yours from this moment.”
I step forward and wrap my arms around his neck in a last, friendly hug. “Goodbye, Shawnie. I hope we can be friends sometime in future.”
Sean’s arm wrap around me too, pulling me closer. “I hope so too.” I pull away and smile genuinely at him, a smile which he returns as he looks back at all the things I’m leaving at his door and then back to me. “All the best for your future ahead, Lee. Just know that I mean it. I genuinely care about you.”
I nod in acknowledgement. “I know. You too, take care.”
And his nod of acknowledgement and a goodbye wave, I turn around and get back on my way home that I’ll be leaving there in a few hours too. That reminds me, I still have to dd Axel’s hoodie and jacket to my bags. I had first thought of returning it before I go but I wanna take it with me. That will be the closest I’ll be to the man I love, even when we’re miles away.
I smile at that thought as I drive back home. Mom reminds me that we have to leave for airport soon and I rush back upstairs to her office room and print out one last sheet of paper before returning to my room and packing in the suit jacket and change into the clothes I’ll be wearing to Massachusetts along with Axel’s hoodie over it.
I drag my bags down, the last sheet of paper burning in my back pocket. My phone buzzes and I take it out to see a text message from Axel and I go back to replying it while Dad puts my bags in his car.
From My World <3
I’m leaving for the airport.
Are you there yet?
Please don’t check in before seeing me.
I chuckle at his insecurity and shake my head. How can he think that I’d leave without sseeing him.
To My World <3
I’m still at home, leaving in a moment.
You’re stupid if you think I’ll leave without seeing you.
I pocket my phone and follow Mom outside with Dad ready in his car, engines revving and ready to move as soon as I sit inside. Mom takes the shotgun as I climb into the backseat and Dad drives away, telling me that Grant and Waverly will be at the airport to see me off.
Maggie and Tracy got accepted in UCLA and they were happy to be together. I was happier to embark the journey with Kevin which made my two girl best friends pout and be jealous of Kevin for being with me. The guy then said he thinks it’s Trace and I in a relationship and not the other way which made us laugh. The other two already left three days ago to start a new journey while Kevin and I will be travelling today, together.
We reach the airport and as Dad takes out my bags, me not helping at ll, my eyes search for Axel. I recognize him talking to my brother and his wife with his back to me and I don’t waste a second in running to him and hugging him.
He is taken by surprises but laughs when he realizes it’s me, breaking my hold on him and bringing me forward to face him. “Hey.” He smiles down at me.
“Hi.” I smile back shyly.
Grant gags and walks away to help Dasd and I turn to give Waves a hug that she returns, slightly uncomfortable with too much skin contact from someone who is not Grant. When Mom, Dad and Grant return, I slowly take Axel’s hand in mine and excuse us both and walk to a distance.
“What’s up?” He asks, frowning. “Everything alright?”
“Yeah.” I nod. “I just have something for you. A pre birthday gift, kind of?” I reach my back pocket and take out the twice folded paper and stretch it to him.
He reluctantly takes it but doesn’t open it, instead looking at me for answers. “You’re not breaking up with me with a letter, now are you?”
My eyes widen at his suggestion and I look at him as if he had grown three heads. “Woah, where did that come from?” He doesn’t answer but looks away, jaws clenched. I grab his arm and turn him to face me. “Axel, did you really think I’ll break up with you before leaving for Uni?”
“You’re going far away.” He shrugs as if that explains it. “It’s college. You’ll meet new people, try new things.”
“That doesn’t mean I’ll not want to be with you.” I say, throwing my hands up in the air for emphasis. First couples fight sucks. I calm down and sigh, grabbing Axel’s face and make him look at me directly in the eye. “Axel Davis, I’m insanely in love with you.” I raise on my tippy toes and peck his lips. “And even when we’re having a slight argument right now, I’m still falling in love with you. I always do, every second I’m with you.”
He pulls me closer by wrapping his arms around my waist and kissed me deeply. “I love you.” He breaths out when we break apart. “God, I love you so much.”
I pull away to see him teary eyed and I’m sure my eyes are shining like that too. “It’s not a goodbye, Mr. Scowls. It’s a see you again soon.”
He chuckles when I call him that name and nods. “It’s a see you again.”
I smile and kiss him once again, hoping he realizes how much I love him from that one kiss before pulling away. He looks down at the letter I gave him that is now scrunched up in his hands. “I ruined the paper.”
“It’s the content that matters.” I say. “Just don’t open it before your birthday.”
He nods, agreeing with me and takes in my attire. “You’re wearing my hoodie.”
“Whose else would I wear?” I ask. “I’m holding onto you now, Axel. And I won’t let go.”
My boyfriends smiles and leans down to peck me before taking my hands and walking us back to my family who are looking at us and smiling softly. I hug each one of them before wrapping my arms around Axel once more.
“I love you.” We both whisper to each other before I pull away and walk inside to embark a new journey of my life.
Finally, I have let go of old things tying me down and holding onto new things that keeps me afloat.
With one final wave and mouthing ‘see you again.’ to Axel, I disappear inside the airport towards the check in are.