CHAPTER TEN – Miss You Nights
Maja got home to an empty house. She didn’t expect the welcoming brigade; she was only gone for a week.The house just felt so cold and empty.
Tracy had mentioned that Aaron was taking her out to some fancy new restaurant.
She dumped her luggage in the corner of her room, stripped her clothes and headed for the shower.
The week with her parents did her a world of good. She was surrounded by familiarity and away from the temptation that is Rylan.
Just thinking about Rylan right now made her pulse race. She had done so well to distance her thoughts from him, but now being back in New Haven was a struggle.
Maja went downstairs, wearing the cozy, cute onesie her mom bought for her. She was gonna order pizza and watch soppy romantic movies.
Just as Maja was about to call the pizza place, the doorbell rings.
Not giving it a second thought, Maja opens the front door in her PJs.
It was Rylan.
“Hey” his smile was sincere and warm.
She looks down and blushes at the sight of Spongebob Squarepants splattered all over the bright yellow onesie.
She laughs embarresed.
“What are you doing here?”
“I was looking for Aaron actually… He locked up Sara’s house this afternoon… She’s out of town and I have to get in the backyard early tomorrow… she’s our new client…” he scratches the back of his head, “And I’m rambling”
“He’s not here. He took Tracy out for dinner…”
“I’ll tell him you stopped by. And that you need those keys”
Rylan turns to leave, shakes his head and turns back. “How was New York?”
“It was good”
“Sorry. None of my business.”
“He’s just as boring as ever”
“So are you just passing through or are you back in New Haven for good?”
“It’s good… it’s good that you’re back. You should’ve never left. And I’m sorry for my part in that…”
Maja shakes her head. “I did that for me… don’t be sorry”
There were so many words unspoken between the two of them. But neither Rylan nor Maja was brave enough to say them.
“It was really good seeing you again Maja” surprisingly Rylan broke the silence.
“You too” she lied
Maja knew that all it took was one look from him and her resolve would be broken. She would most likely spend the entire night tossing and turning, dreaming about him.
He still caused her heart to skip a beat and those blue-green eyes still made the butterflies flutter in her stomach.
“Good night Maja…”
“Good night Rylan”
He turned to leave. She wanted him to stay.
She stood in the doorway until he got into his truck and drove off. She felt hollow inside.There was a void that used to be filled with his love.
As she stood waiting for him to make a U-turn and come back to her, the thought at least my heart was open stuck in her mind.
But it was little consolation as Rylan disappeared from her eyesight. She headed back inside and closed the door behind her.
Maja crashed down on the couch, switched on the TV mindlessly and played her DVD. Her mind was faroff and certainly not focused on Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
She had promised herself to not obsess over Rylan and their failed relationship, but seeing him again felt so good. She wanted to text him and tell him that.But then she remembered that she deleted him from her mobile.
Funnily she hadn’t packed away one single item from her room that reminded her of him. The boyfriend box you store away in your garage or the pictures you burn as a cleansing ritual.She couldn’t bring herself to do it.She so dearly wanted to hold on to something, anything.
Her mother told her that time would heal the void in her heart. Her mother didn’t know that she didn’t want to be healed of it; she just wanted Rylan to fill it again.
Maja and Tracy sat in her classroom, sharing tuna sandwiches.
“So are you ever gonna tell me what happened in New York?”
Maja smiles, “Nothing happened in New York. I went, I saw my folks, I chilled, I came back”
“Dermot’s still dreary old Dermot”
“You seriously think that if I were to rebound I’d do it with Dermot? Come on T… give me a little credit here”
“So Rylan came by the house last night”
“What did he want?”
“Keys or something…” Maja just realized that she had forgotten to relay the message, “Oh crap”
Maja smiles abashed, “I forgot to tell Aaron to drop off this lady, Sara’s keys at Rylan’s. He had to get into the house this morning”
Tracy shrugs. “Oh well”
“What? You forgot and screw him”
“Don’t do that T”
“Rag on him coz the relationship didn’t work out”
“I’m not… I still like Rylan and I get on well with him… but he deserves just a little karma for breaking your heart”
Maja shakes her head.
“This breakup is too well-adjusted by the way”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I mean… you break up with someone, you yell and scream and smash shit.”
“You guys are so damn polite and civilized it’s sickening”
Maja smiles, “Well… sorry”
“You two are both idiots just so you know. You belong together; you were made for each other. And I think it’s the most ridiculous thing that he can’t get over the fact that you have Greta’s heart”
“Yeah, I mean she was only his wife and the love of his life”
“Emphasis on was”
Maja bows her head, “Let’s not do that T… I need to move on with my life and I can’t do that if I have people still rooting for me and Rylan”
“I know that… I’m just saying”
There is a heavy silence in the classroom.
“I can’t bring myself to box him up…”
“Box him up?”
Maja nods “Pack all the memories… all the reminders away and store it away.”
Tracy reaches out and squeezes her hand.
“It’ll take some time M… you really loved this guy… just give it time”
“That’s what my mom said…” tears well up in her eyes, “Just wish it wouldn’t hurt so much…”
As Maja blinks a tear trickles down her cheek.
Maja shakes her head, “I keep hoping… wishing he’d come around and tell me he made a mistake… that he never meant any of the things he said that night. And then I wake up… and he’s still gone.”
“Maybe you need a night out… find a rebound guy”
Maja giggles, “I don’t think I’m ready”
“That’s the beauty of a rebound M… you don’t need to think, you just do. What’s that they say… the only way to get over a man is to get under another one…?”
“I think I’ll leave the getting under men bit to you” Maja teases.
“I know it seems pretty hopeless and bleek right now… but it’ll get better. And if it doesn’t, we’ll TP his house”
Maja chuckles between bites of her sandwich.
“Thanks for never bailing on my crazy ass T”
“I may not be ready to throw my name away…”
Tracy throws her hands up theatrically.
Maja continues through giggles, “But I am ready for a girls’ night out on the town”
Maja stretches her legs out and rests them on the chair.
“I’m doing this right… right?”
“I don’t really know M… normally I just dump guys and be done with them. I’ve never really dumped someone I really loved.”
“I didn’t really dump Rylan… he dumped me”
“I’m completely opposed to the way he handled things… but I don’t think he’d break up with you if the circumstances weren’t… well the way they are. So I don’t think you can classify it as being dumped.”
“He ended our relationship because of another woman… it kinda feels like being dumped”
After the setback of driving to Aaron’s to get Sara’s housekeys, Rylan got stuck into working.
Seeing Maja last night brought up all the feelings he was suppressing. He needed a distraction.
The day had turned out a lot more humid than forecasted. Rylan could feel the beads of sweat trickling down his back.He removes his grey roundneck t-shirt and tosses it over the railing of the backporch.
He continues digging up trenches with the pickaxe gripped in his hands, flexing the muscles on his back.
Rylan was so focused on his work he didn’t notice Sara standing on the porch, staring at him.
It was only until Aaron came out of the house greeting Sara, that Rylan looked up to find her still looking at him.
Her eyelids seemed heavy, her pupils were dialated, her breathing heady like a woman who’d just orgasmed.
Aaron smirked as he put two and two together. Sara was drooling all over herself.
Although Sara was well into her forties, she was still an attractive woman. She had been married three times, divorced three times.
Rylan walked over to the pair on the porch, pickaxe in hand. He wiped at the sweat on his forehead.Sara’s eyes lingered over his muscular body, biting her bottom lip at the sight of Rylan’s perfectly carved abs, gasping at the sight of the tattoo snaking down his side.
“I know it looks like a mess right now…” he looks back at the dug-up backyard, then back to Aaron and Sara. “But it’ll all be worth it in the end”
Sara cleared her throat, “No… it’s fine. If you’ll excuse me… I have a few calls to make”
She quickly makes her exit inside the house.
Aaron shoves his hand into the pockets of his chinos, peeks behind him to make sure he was in the clear.
“She was totally checking you out” he grins
“What?” Rylan laughs
“Sara… you shoulda seen her drooling over here. She has a thing for you bro”
Rylan gets back to work with Aaron watching on.
“So you would deny yourself some cougar action”
“I am right! Ry… this chick melted over you”
“Have you had too much sun? Aaron, go type up a contract or something… the rest of us have to work to earn our keep”
“Ha! Ha!” he turns to leave, “I’ll go chat to Sara”
“Don’t do or say anything stupid bud!” Rylan shouts after him, watching Aaron disappear through the kitchen door.
Aaron leans with his back against the kitchen counter, watching as Sara prepares lemonade.
“For us? You shouldn’t have” Aaron smiles
“It’s hot out there… thought you guys could use something sweet”
“Ry has this great idea of a Victorian garden for your backyard. It’s gonna look great”
Her eyes light up “Oh yes! He showed me his plan and layout. He’s remarkably talented”
Aaron smirks as he takes the glass of lemonade she hands him.
“I wanted to ask… I realize you have a girlfriend… but I really wanted to take you and Rylan out to dinner tonight”
“You sure you want me there too?” Aaron teases
He shakes his head “Nevermind. I’ll ask Ry… I’m sure it’ll be fine. Besides Tracy has plans with Maja tonight, so I’m free”
She places the lemonade onto a tray, grabs it and heads out back.
Aaron shakes his head and laughs.
Like a kid he rushes to spy on the two through the kitchen window.
“Rylan…” Sara puts on her best accent, “I made some lemonade. You deserve a little break and besides, the heat is so sweltering… you must be parched”
Rylan smiles and puts the pickaxe down. He doesn’t think to put his shirt back on.Not even Sara’s lingering eyes tip him off.
He accepts a glass of lemonade from the overeager blonde.
She watches on as he gulps down the lemonade. Her eyes following the route of the lemonade, starting at his neck with it’s pulsating veins, to his chest holding his impressive pecs, right down to those abs – where her eyes hover.
She carefully picks a block of ice from her glass of lemonade, tracing it down her neck to her bossom.
Rylan looks at her, concerned. “Are you okay?”
“Maybe you should go back inside… this heat can make you feel faint”
“You’re so sweet” Sara swoons.
When he hands the glass back, her hand brushes his and she lets out a girly giggle.
Rylan, oblivious to her advances, carries on working as she saunters back into the kitchen.
Aaron heads back outside.
Rylan steps up and out of the ditch he dug, whispering. “Hey A… I think you were right about Sara… She was acting real weird. I caught her melting ice off her neck down her cleavage”
Aaron grins, “Well… humor her”
“Too late, she invited us out to dinner tonight and I said yes”
“You did what?”
“Look… she’s harmless. So she’ll feel you up a bit. It’s been a while since you’ve had any action, couldn’t hurt”
“No! Are you like pimping me out to our clients now? Are we that strapped for business?”
Aaron laughs, “Ry… relax! It’s just dinner. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“I don’t wanna lead this lady on Aaron.”
“Look… you need to get out of this slump and she’s more than willing to help you out with that”
“She’s twice my age! And I work for her”
“So it’d be like the mistress and the gardner”
“What are you smoking?” Rylan adds in animated tone.
“You said you didn’t wanna date at the chance that the next girl might have one of Greta’s organs… chances are very likely that this one doesn’t”
“Yeah… I’ve done the whole widower thing, not a big fan”
Aaron laughs, “She’s not that old bro”
Rylan frowns, staring at the house behind Aaron, then back at him.
Aaron holds up and objecting hand as Rylan opens his mouth to respond.
“You owe me big time for this Aaron”
“I know, I know”
“What does Tracy have to say about you hitting the town with Mrs. Robinson?”
Aaron laughs, “She’s having a girls’ night thing with Maja”
“So tonight you get a night off too. No guilt trips, no moping… night off”
“Can you do me a favor?”
“Can you take her out to buy the sculptures for the garden? Cause I seriously can’t handle her ogling me through the kitchen window all afternoon” Rylan nods in the direction of the kitchen.
Sara had been peeking behind the window ever since Aaron came out to talk to Rylan.
Maja and Tracy sip on cocktails at their favorite Yale watering hole.
“This place is packed”
Tracy pulls a face as she pops the cherry decorating her daiquiri into her mouth. “Yeah, too many teeny boppers hanging around”
“Are we getting old?”
“One is only as old as they feel M”
Tracy raises her cocktail glass for a toast. “To us! And to many more pink, fruity drinks”
Maja smiles and clinks her glass against Tracy’s
A young guy leans on the barcounter next to Maja. She smiles at the gawking adolescent.She figured he must be fresh out of high school, with his mop of curly brown hair and expectant smile.
“Hi…” he flashed the biggest smile Maja had ever seen up close.
“I’m Bradley” he extends his hand, to which Maja accepts.
“Pretty name for a pretty girl”
Maja looks at Tracy and tries to contain her laughter, and then back at Bradley.
“I’m Tracy if anyone cares”
Bradley chuckles and reaches across Maja to shake Tracy’s hand, his arm brushing against her chest. She wasn’t sure if the move was calculated or an innocent coincendce.
“So are you guys from New Haven?”
Maja nods, “And you?”
“I go to Yale… I’m from Iowa.”
“You go to Yale? How old are you?” Tracy pipes up.
Bradley smiles, “I’m nineteen”
“Shouldn’t you be in bed right now?”
“Forgive Tracy she’s got no filter when she’s drinking”
“Ha! No worries… so are you guys celebrating or just a night out”
“We’re celebrating Maja’s new single life”
“What? We are”
“You’re single?” this sparked interest with Bradley.
“I guess I am”
The smile on his face said it all. Bradley had a little crush on Maja.Maja tried to be open to flirting with the teenager as she watched him order a beer.
He was kind of cute, but she’d have to be insane to entertain his advances.
Maja and Tracy decide to let Bradley join them at the bar.
“So what’re you studying kid?” Tracy asks
“Well… that’s interesting”
“We used to be pre law at Yale” Maja adds
“Yeah, we changed our minds and decided to become elementary school teachers instead”
“That’s a stretch” Bradley smiles
It seemed that he followed every line coming from his perfectly crafted mouth with a megawatt smile. Maja wasn’t sure if it was cute or annoying.
“Okay Bradley you’re boring me”
“Tracy” Maja raises her eyebrow at the friend
“Buy us a couple of shots kid”
“Coming right up” and cue the overzealous smile
Maja turns to face Tracy and whispers, “Tracy…”
“What?” she shrugs and continues sipping on her third daiquiri.
An hour passes and the threesome became a little more relaxed and vocal.
Rylan, Aaron and Sara had just finished dinner at Ibiza and decided to stop by for a drink at the same bar where Maja and Tracy were.
Like an invisible magnetic field, Maja and Rylan find each other’s gaze.
Tracy notices Maja zoning out and turns to face the entrance of the pub.
“I am going to kill Aaron”
Tracy shoots up from her barstool and marches over to an unsuspecting Aaron.
Aaron whips around; his smile fades when he sees Tracy.
“One night… all I asked for is one night” she mutters between clenched teeth.
Aaron turns to face Sara and Rylan. “Would you guys excuse me?”
“Sure, we’ll get a table so long” an oblivious Sara says, as she leads Rylan away.
Rylan’s eyes never leave Maja’s.
“Aaron… all I needed was one night… to get Maja out of her shell and to move on. And you bring Rylan here? What is that?”
“I swear I didn’t mean to. I forgot you mentioned this place”
“You were going to dinner… what happened?”
“Sara is kinda into Ry… and she didn’t want the night to end. So the only way to keep him out was dragging him along for drinks”
“Rylan and Sara… she’s old!”
“Well if I’m looking at the bar, Maja isn’t exactly dating in her age pool either”
Tracy turns to find Bradley leaning into Maja, brushing a stray hair out of her face.
“He’s just some kid from Yale…” she shakes her head, “Maja’s not interested… but it’s kinda fun to see him fall all over himself for her”
Aaron smiles, “Well you can relax… Ry’s not interested in being Sara’s boytoy either”
Tracy sighs, “So what are we gonna do? Just stay on opposite sides of the bar?”
“I think that’s the best… I mean, how awkward would it be to sit together.”
Tracy nods, “Okay… you go back to your people and I’ll go back to mine. See you later okay”
He kisses her mouth and heads toward the table Sara and Rylan were sitting at.
Tracy sits down on the barstool and gulps down the shot of Tequila in front of her.
“Are we gonna leave?” Maja leans in to ask
“No… we’re gonna stay over here and they’re gonna stay over there”
Bradley pops his head between the two, “Do you know those guys?”
“Well Aaron is Tracy’s boyfriend… the other guy… yeah, he’s my ex”
“We can go somewhere else if you want” Bradley lovingly runs his hand down her back.
The smiling, curly-haired boy grew on Maja. He was sweet.
“No… it’s okay. New Haven is a very small city and I was bound to run into Rylan at some point…” Maja shrugs, “Might as well get it over and done with now”
“Okay then, let’s forget about Ryan and his older chick and have some fun”
“It’s Rylan…” Maja corrects him.
And there was the smile again. Maja decided since it did no harm, she would go with cute over annoying.
Rylan sits arms crossed tightly over his chest, watching as Bradley and Maja flirt with each other.
Sara leans closer and whispers, “Do you know her?”
He pulls back, extending the distance between them. She nods in Maja’s direction.
“The brunette getting cozy with the youngster over there… Do you know her?”
“They used to date” Aaron feels the need to add something to the already awkward conversation.
“Thanks for clearing that up Aaron”
“Well… if you’re uncomfortable here, we can go somewhere else”
“No. Let’s just finish our drinks and be done with it”
The comment clearly stung as Sara’s eyes started to tear up.
“Would you excuse me… just need to go to the ladies” she gets up and hurries off to the restroom.
Aaron leans forward, scowling “Dude! Can you drop the attitude?”
“Why? You dragged me out here… dangling me like I’m some piece of meat. And now… now Maja’s over there drooling over some preppy kid who looks twelve years old!”
“Are you upset over coming out tonight or over the fact that Maja is flirting with that kid over there?”
Rylan lets out a frustrated sigh and gulps down his beer. Aaron leans back into his chair, runs a hand through his messy hair.
“Look Ry… you were bound to run into her at some point. And she’s pretty hot… so some dude was bound to hit on her…”
Rylan looks at Aaron with a blank expression on his face. “Don’t you think I know all of this?”
He shakes his head, “I’m just tired… and I can’t really stand Sara fawning over me like this…”
“She’s just lonely Ry… and she seems to have taken a liking to you”
“Yeah… especially with my shirt off”
Rylan looks over to Maja’s group. The youngster had pulled her up from her chair and dragged her out onto the dancefloor.
They were slowdancing to Jason Mraz’s I won’t give up on us.
Rylan could feel his blood boiling, fisting his hands at his side.
Tracy had since joined them at their table.
“So where’s blondie?”
“Babe… be nice. She went to the ladies”
Tracy looks at Rylan. “You know if you stare long enough you might turn into a statue of salt”
Rylan forces a smile.
Rylan’s eyes follow Bradley’s hands as they stroke up and down Maja’s back. He leans into her neck, stealing a few kisses on her cheekbone.
Without a second thought, Rylan shoots up from his seat and rushes over to the couple. He tugs at Bradley’s shirt and flings him across the room.
Aaron tries to intervene. Bradley had been drinking a fair bit and felt he could take on Rylan.He shoves at Rylan’s chest before taking a swing at him.Rylan ducks in time and throws a punch of his own, connecting with Bradley’s face – hitting him square in the face.
Blood streams from Bradley’s nose. Maja rushes over to check on him.
Aaron holds Rylan back as he motions to get another shot in.
“Ry come on man. He’s just a kid”
Maja looks up into Rylan’s angry eyes. “What is wrong with you?”
The security guys have since joined in.
“You guys are gonna have to leave”
“No problem…” Aaron tries to keep the peace.
Aaron pushes Rylan toward the door, grabbing Sara just as she gets out of the restroom.
“We have to go Sara”
Aaron shakes his head.
Maja, Tracy and Bradley follow them to the exit. Sara put two and two together at the sight of Bradley’s bloody nose.
The group all head outside.
Aaron and Tracy walk Sara to her car while Rylan waits for Aaron, leaning against the Lexus.
Maja walks Bradley back to the entrance of the bar.
“I’m really sorry… I don’t know what got into Rylan. He’s not normally like that”
“Jealously can do strange things to a man” he smiles.
Bradley tucks her hair behind her ear. “I would kiss you right now, but my nose is pretty busted up”
Maja smiles, “You’re sweet… and charming…”
“But you’re pretty much still in love with Rocky Balboa”
She laughs, running her hand down his chest. “Take care of yourself Bradley”
Maja kisses his rosy cheek and turns to leave.
“I won’t easily forget you Maja” he shouts, still wearing his everpresent smile.
Bradley heads back inside the bar.
Maja walks over to where Rylan was standing. He comes upright when he sees her.
“What is wrong with you Rylan? What was all that in there about?” Maja points in the direction of the bar.
“I’m sorry… I…” he scratches the back of his head, “I just saw his hands all over you and I…”
“You were jealous” Maja closes the distance between the two of them.
“I don’t want us to be broken up… I want to be with you”
“Then what do you want from me Rylan?”
“I want you to be happy…”
“Did I look unhappy to you in there?”
“That dude looked like a twelve year-old! Is that the kind of pervert you’d want groping you?”
“Groping me?! We were dancing!”
Maja’s voice echoed through the quiet street, Tracy and Aaron watching on.
“I get that it’s hard to see me with someone else… and that it’s only human to get jealous… But you forfeited that right when you left me”
Rylan stared into her watery brown eyes, struggling to find the right words to say. He was jealous and he would continue to be jealous of any guy that she ended up with.But flashes of Greta’s autopsy pictures came flooding back in his mind.
He shakes the thoughts from his head.
“You’re right. I did forfeit that right… I should’ve never hit that kid in there”
“Why can’t you just admit that it was a mistake for us to break up?” a tear makes its way down her cheek. “Why is it so hard for you…?”
Maja backs away, covering her mouth with her open hand.
“I still love you with every fibre of my being… but you… you’re standing there with your beard and your blonde older woman”
“Maja it’s not like that… Sara is a client”
“Whatever Rylan… I’m just tired. I can’t keep on doing this with you. You know how I feel and I know how you feel… so let’s just stop hurting each other and go our separate ways”
“I never meant to hurt you Maja…”
“Yeah… but lately that’s all you’ve done”
Her remark stung and it showed in the hurt look in his eyes.
He recoils, stuffing his hands in his pockets and dropping his head.
“I have to go”
Although Maja hated seeing him so sad and hurt, she had to hold her resolve and be strong. She couldn’t move on with her life until she let go of her past, let go of Rylan.
Maja joins Tracy and Aaron.
“Can we go now?”
“Hey Maja… I’m really sorry about this”
“Don’t worry about it Aaron. I’m just really tired and wanna go home… I could drive if you wanna go with Aaron, T”
Tracy shakes her head, “No… no… you go wait in the car while I say goodbye to the boys”
Maja grabs the car keys from Tracy and walks off.
Tracy and Aaron walk toward his car.
“She did not seem happy” Aaron observes
“Rylan punched a kid because he got jealous… I wouldn’t be happy either”
“Ry is in denial Trace… he still loves Maja, but he’s torturing himself because he thinks that that is what he’s supposed to do”
“Well it sucks”
Aaron smiled, throwing his arm around her shoulder.
In a few short strides they were standing, facing Rylan.
She holds up her hand. “Don’t worry about it… I’ll take her home, stuff her face with chocolate and put on some sappy lovesongs. She’ll be fine”
“I didn’t mean to hit that kid…”
“Who, Bradley? Don’t sweat it, he was kinda annoying anyway”
Tracy turns to face Aaron, gently tugs at his shirt pulling him closer. “I’ll see you tomorrow”
She presses a kiss to his mouth.
“See you around Rylan”
She walks off.
They get into the car. Aaron starts up the car.
“You seriously just punched a kid in there?”
“Can we just drop it please?”
Aaron laughs, “What? It was funny is all”
“Yeah thanks man”
There is a hint of a smile on Rylan’s face.
“So Maja really climbed into you…”
“Yeah… she was pretty pissed off”
“Ry… are you done with this now? I mean, are you gonna move on and let that be that?”
“I didn’t mean to do that in there Aaron. I acted on impulse. And I was wrong, I admit that.”
“The chances of you stumbling upon Maja out on a date in the future is very probable… and you can’t go around beating the crap out of people like that”
“So what’re you gonna do?”
“There’s nothing I can do. I just have to keep my distance and let her move on with her life”
Maja angrily pushes the front door open, leaving Tracy eating her dust. Tracy closes the door behind her.
“Hey M…” she follows Maja into the kitchen.
Maja had taken out the bottle of gin they hid behind the pots and pans in the cabinet beneath the sink.
She grabs two glasses from the shelf and pours a handy amount into each glass.
She pushes a glass along the countertop.
Maja gulps down the gin and proceeds to pour another shot.
“Maja… drinking away your troubles? Really?”
“Do you have a better suggestion?”
Maja grabs her glass and walks out of the kitchen. Tracy follows her to the foyer.Maja grabs a small box from the closet in the hallway.
“What are you doing?”
Maja heads upstairs, Tracy still her tail, and into her bedroom. She grabs the photoframe from her bedside cabinet, a picture of her and Rylan inside.She tosses the photoframe into the box, and then dumps the box onto her bed.
She grabs the Azalea bonsai tree from her windowsill and hands it to Tracy.
“M… slow down…”
“What? I am finally ready to move on!”
Maja sits down on the bed and opens the drawers to her bedside cabinet. She takes out the macaroni necklace and a few printed photos.She tosses the items into the box.
“So you’re just gonna pack all your memories in a box… and then what?”
“And burn them”
Maja sounded so matter-of-fact saying that.
“Okay hold on… crazy, psycho, burning-stuff lady… only an hour ago you were petrified of flirting with a nineteen year-old. Now you wanna take everything that reminds you of Rylan and turn it to ash?”
“Rylan and I are over T… we’re never getting back together again”
“And this thought only occurred to you now?”
“No it occurred to me the night he told me that he could no longer love me… I was just in denial. But tonight I’m seeing things crystal clear”
“No, tonight you’re seeing things through Tequila and Gin-tinted glasses”
Maja carries on packing things into the box.
“Maja, would you stop and think about this please? This is not just a matter of grabbing shit that reminds you of your relationship and chucking it into a fire… that’s not gonna fix anything!”
“But it sure as hell is gonna make me feel better… better than I have been feeling for the past couple of days. It hurts Tracy! He hurt me… and he broke my heart!”
Tracy wraps her arms around Maja. She could feel all the emotions bubbling under as tears threatened.
Maja pushes Tracy away.
“I don’t wanna cry anymore T…”
“I just want something tangible that says… hey, you broke up and now you’re moving on”
“I’m just scared that one day you’re gonna want to look back on these memories and they’ll be gone”
Maja sits back down on the bed. “Let me just do this… please…”
Her tears drip onto her jeans. Tracy sits down beside her on the bed.
“Maja… just because you pack stuff into a box and threaten to burn them… that doesn’t mean you’ll stop loving him”
“Do you want to hear something completely pathetic… tonight, when Rylan got so jealous and hit Bradley… a part of me was exicted and hopeful, that we’d end up together again”
“I don’t wanna be this girl… the one who just can’t move on with her life. Who’s waiting by the phone for some guy to call…Who’s stuck in the past…” she shakes her head, rubbing at the tears in her eyes.
“I’ll make you a deal… we burn a few photos, keep the tree and the necklace… just until the hurt goes away.”
Maja looks at Tracy, and then nods.
The two head downstairs, Maja clutching a few photos close to her chest.
They go out back. Tracy pulls a metal bin closer from out back, grabbing a few matches along the way.Maja holds up the first picture as Tracy lights the match.
Maja watches on as the fire ignites around the picture, the edge darkening before turning to ash. She drops the half-burnt picture into the bin.
Tracy puts her arm around Maja, as they watch the flames dull down.
They stay outside until all the photos Maja was carrying were burnt to ash.
Tracy stayed up and spoke to Aaron on the phone for about an hour. Maja goes up to her room and sits down on her bed.She had thought taking a drastic action, like burning pictures, would make her feel better… cleansed even.But she felt even more empty and lonely.
All she wanted was to be in Rylan’s arms again, to hear him say that he loved her.
She picks out the macaroni necklace from the box of Rylan. She twirls the jewelry around her fingers.
The memory of him sitting in her classroom, stringing pieces of macaroni together, flashed vividly through her mind. She closes her eyes, remembering the touch of Rylan’s hands as he tied the necklace around her neck.She runs her fingers over her neck.
A tear trickles down her cheek.
You’re the only recipient of one of my macaroni necklaces.
Maja lets out a heavy, sorrowful breath.
Tracy was wrong; she needed to get rid of all the memories if she were to ever get over Rylan.
Frustrated with herself, she shoots up from the bed and grabs the box, running downstairs and out back – grabbing the container of gasoline they kept in the cupboard under the sink along the way. The bin was still there, so were the matches.She chucks everything from the box into the bin, shattering the bonsai’s porcelain pot.She anxiously douses everything in the bin with a handy amount of gasoline.
Maja strikes the match, hesitating for an instant but the ache in her chest ensures courage to toss the match into the bin.
She watches as the fire spreads across the remainder of the photos she didn’t burn. The fire scattered out onto the dried out petals from the first bouquet he gave her.She wasn’t quite sure what to make of the charming, shy man that was so thoughtful to get an assortment of flowers for a blind date.
The flickering, hot flames spread onto her Camila CD… the macaroni necklace… the black dress she wore on their date at Edgewood Park and the scarf Rylan used as a blindfold… the dried out petals from the one white rose, the Goodfellas DVD, the Little Caesar DVD, the CD single of their song Falling Slowly, her white summer dress that got soaked when Rylan tilted his boat on Iris Pond, his James Blunt CD he gave her after impressing her with his vocal skills, her pale-blue evening gown, the t-shirt, jeans and underwear she wore on the night they made love.
It all felt surreal to Maja, every memory felt like it was going up in flames.
The sputter emanating from the fire pricked at Maja’s breaking heart. Her tears had finally run dry, she felt numb.