Unsure of where to go, I ended up at the archery site, the only place I could think of to be alone.
I fumbled with the broken lock on the gate, my breath hitching in my throat as tears streamed down my face. When I finally managed to open the lock, I stumbled inside, my vision blurry from tears.
I sat down in the corner of the small building, sobs shaking my body. I hoped no one would hear me crying and check on me. But where else should I go to avoid people for a moment?
I wiped away the tears and wished I had brought tissues. My sleeve got stuck on the eye pad, and I ripped it off with one swift motion, not bothered by the stinging it left on my skin.
Looking around, I tried to not think about all the memories George and I shared here. How proud he was to show me his skills with bow and arrow and the happiness he spread when teaching the children. I wish it have remained this way forever, but Gunnar had to pop out of nowhere and open a can of worms that should have remained tightly sealed.
I shook my head. It was wrong to think that way. Gunnar only wanted to help, and this was my life and responsibility. He only sped up a process that started a while ago. George had those feelings for a long time, and he said and did things under false pretenses. I love him, but all the things he said to me still shocked me to the core. Even without the wolf in the way, I would have needed time to gain the trust again to continue moving on with him. In the end, the result remained the same: George and I couldn’t stay together. I might change my mind in the future. I wouldn’t know. But as long as I didn’t figure out how much danger comes from being around me and if my wolf will remain hidden or not, I had to keep my distance from him. It will be better for both of us.
The only thing bothering me about our separation is that he feels like it was all his fault when it wasn’t. I wish explaining the situation to him was an option, but I neither had the strength to face him again nor the right words. Nothing I will say will be the whole truth.
I have to take this opportunity and return to my old life. Who would have thought that would be my way out? After the incident, I swore to myself to never return to the place I grew up in, refusing to remember what I had lost. But I still couldn’t bring myself to sell the house, either. Now, it could be my place to hide. It was quite ironic how my life changed.
Considering the house stood empty with no care for years now, it will probably give me enough work to get my mind off of things, too. A glint of excitement flared up in me, imagining a place I would have all to myself, and invest all my time in. The other day I wondered if it was time for me to leave this place, and maybe it was. Just not with George, but alone.
I stood up and patted the dirt off my clothes. If this wasn’t the right time to leave everything behind, when would it be? I should take this moment of determination and end all ties that hold me here, starting with George and continuing with my job.
I glanced at my watch and frowned. It was already late, and I doubted Mr. Meyer was still in his office at this time, but I took the chance, anyway. Knowing me, I might have a change of heart tomorrow.
My heart beat faster and faster the closer I got to his office. The office building was almost empty. Only a few people were still around, greeting me when I passed them. I didn’t miss the odd glances they threw me, reminding me I ripped my eye pad off. I haltered. Maybe I should fix my eye first before approaching Mr. Meyer. But that would mean I had to go back home, and George might still be there.
I cursed under my breath and decided I rather come up with a lie when someone asked than to leave again.
Mr. Meyer’s secretary wasn’t at her desk anymore, which wasn’t surprising considering the time, and I passed her desk in quick steps. I stopped in front of Mr. Meyer’s door and sucked in a breath. If he was here, it’s meant to be this way. If he wasn’t, I have to reconsider.
I knocked and waited. Dread filled me when I didn’t hear anything from the inside, and I was about to turn around when I heard his voice through the heavy door calling me inside.
I pushed the door open and stepped into the office.
Mr. Meyer had a frown on his face when he looked up from his desk, but it disappeared when he recognized me, smiling from one ear to the other. “Amalia! What a pleasant surprise to see you. It has been a while since we had time to talk.”
I smiled and nodded. He had always been supportive of me. He took me under his wing when I had no other options, and he always put faith in me. That makes it even harder to leave this job and place behind.
“My wife nagged me about spending so much time in the office again, so I was about to leave. You are lucky you caught me. Sit down, please.”
I sat down on the big red chair in front of his desk. He leaned forward, propping his head on his hands and waiting for me to say something.
“Mr. Meyers, I-”
“Amalia, please call me Clemens.”
I moved in my chair uncomfortably. He wanted me to call him by his first name, but he was still my boss, and I was about to quit.
I cleared my throat. “Well, okay, Clemens. Some things have happened, and I regret to say that I have to quit.”
The words rushed out of my mouth, and I worried he might not have understood me. I didn’t want to repeat myself, so I hoped for the best.
I looked everywhere in the room, but at him, but when the silence almost dared to overwhelm me, I glanced at him. A big smile was plastered on his face, with a proud glistering in his eyes.
“I see. I’m sad to hear you want to leave, but if that’s what you decided, I won’t force you to stay. You had been an amazing employee, but I always knew this wasn’t meant to be your last stage. I hoped eventually you would receive an opportunity to bring you forward in life,” he said, and leaned back in his massive chair. It made a scary screeching sound, and for a moment, I feared it might split in two.
“I’m very grateful for all the things I got to learn here. If it wasn’t for you, who knows where I would have ended up,” I said.
He flashed me a toothy smile. “I only offered you an opportunity. It was you who made something out of it.”
I smiled, even with the heavy feeling in my stomach. The reasons I would leave weren’t all so glorious as he might think they were.
“Now tell me, how fast did you plan to leave?”
My face fell. “If it was up to me, tomorrow. But I know it’s not that easy.”
His eyes widened before he put on a smile again. “That, for sure, is rather unexpected. You are right, it’s not easy. At least if I’m not ready to cooperate. But let me check the situation. I’m sure we can work something out.”
He checked something on his computer and nodded. “Considering the number of vacation days you have collected and the overtime you still have, I’m sure we can let you go by tomorrow.”
I nodded slowly, baffled how this was possible. “Are you sure? Don’t you need someone to replace me before I go?”
“Don’t worry. We might be short on staff, but it will work out somehow. Let this be my last gift for you.”
Tears sprung into my eyes hearing that. I knew he didn’t have to do this, but I’m so grateful he did.
“But do I have to expect to see George walking in here soon, too?” He asked and laughed.
When I didn’t join in and remained silent, his laughter died too. His brows furrowed, and he studied me for a moment. “You aren’t leaving with George, are you?”
I pressed my lips together to stop myself from sobbing and shook my head.
“Are you sure you want to leave, then? Conflicts happen all the time, and I don’t want you to regret this.”
I took a deep breath and swallowed hard. “It’s not the only reason. Other things have happened, and I need to take care of them in my hometown.”
He loosened his tie a little and nodded, looking slightly shaken now. “In that case, I won’t push the matter any further. I’m sorry, I was so convinced you two would stay together for a long time. It wasn’t my place to assume such a thing.”
I smiled. “Don’t worry, it’s okay.”
He cleared his throat. “Here is what we do now: I will set up a contract cancellation agreement until tomorrow, and you drop by during the day to go over it with me. After you sign it, you are free to go.”
“I’m so thankful to you, Clemens.”
“You know, I wouldn’t do this for just anyone. I’m doing this for you because you never asked for anything in all these years. You have been nothing but an outstanding employee, picking up the pieces left and right. It wouldn’t feel right to send you off with cold feelings. Keeping you here longer would feel like a punishment, and that’s not what it should be.”
I smiled, feeling my cheeks warm up. It was weird to receive a compliment in this situation. I knew I was appreciated, but hearing it from him like this was different. I was glad I did good work in the past years. “You won’t get in trouble for this, right?”
Another round of laughter shook his body. “They can’t get rid of me so easily. The only thing I want you to promise me is that you continue walking. Don’t give up, and do what you did all these years; looking forward. Don’t forget to visit us!”
I looked at him properly for the first time and saw the hint of sadness in his eyes. My heart clenched. I wish I wouldn’t have to hurt so many people with my decisions. “I will try my best.”
“Very good. That is all I could ask for. And now get some rest. You look a bit tired.”
I stood up, unsure if I should offer a handshake or not. He answered my question by standing up with a huff and hugging me awkwardly. I patted his back, glad when he released me again.
“Take care,” he said.
I nodded and turned to leave. At the door, I stopped and looked back again. “Before I forget. There was a minor accident in the bungalow. A few things might need to get repaired, but I will pay for the damage.”
He raised a brow. “I don’t think I want to know about the details, do I?”
I shook my head. “Believe me, it’s better if you don’t.”