Part 4: Chapter 31 - Aldrich
Saying goodbye to Danica is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Watching her board the train, tear-streaked cheeks and red eyes, it breaks my heart. She’s not the only one with tears. I’ve held them back until she can’t see my face as clearly. One of us has to be strong so the other can use it for support. I shouldn’t let her leave. I shouldn’t let her walk away. I should chase after her, like in those books that inspired her to write. I should be fighting to be with her harder. But her world is in Beaverton, Oregon. My world has always been here. Or has it?
I wait for the train to pull out of the station. Danica’s window passes by me and her sad smile makes me chase after her until the platform ends. I lock my hands behind my head as I watch my everything leave me behind. What have I done?
I go about my days sulking. Work no longer brings a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment. I’ve been cooking more lately. Since making dinner for Danica, I’ve found some enjoyment in it. But it’s not the same. I’m not making dinner for two. Just me. On the days Danica and I don’t get to talk, I spend my time reading her books to feel close to her. I do my best to catch her online. We exchanged numbers, and I even created a Skype account so we can see each other.
I met Charlie and Danny during one of our chats. Both pleasant characters. I can see why Danica and Danny had become such close friends. However, there is a visible distance between them. Danica told me they used to flirt and banter left and right. Now that Danny is dating Amethyst, out of respect Danica holds back. I can see that Charlie is protective of Danica, though he makes light of some things.
I don’t know what I am going to do. I keep trying to think of ways that I could possibly have Danica come back here. I can pay her fare. She stayed in my room during her entire stay in Serbia, so that would not be an issue. But Danica has already been away from her family for so long. To have her come back here so soon would not be the best choice. But I can visit her.
I’m in my bed staring at the ceiling late one night. Thinking about how I might be able to catch Danica on Skype when she wakes up. Which should be soon. I couldn’t catch her yesterday. She had sent me a message, telling me that she was driving upstate to stay with Charlie for a while. That she would be helping Danny prepare to propose to Amethyst. The thought of the proposal has triggered something deep within me. The thought of seeing Danica in white, walking down the aisle . . . towards me, it makes my heart hammer in my chest. I can see myself making a life with Danica. And if I am honest with myself, I would make a life with her anywhere.
If she wants to stay in the states, I am fully prepared to leave everything behind and move there with her. Or she can move here with me. Either way, wherever Danica is, I would happily call that my home.
My computer starts to ring as the usual Skype ringtone alerts me that Danica is calling me. I jump out of bed and sit at my desk so fast that I might have given myself whiplash.
“Danica,” I say when her face fills my screen. “I thought I wouldn’t get to see you this week.”
“I was beginning to think the same,” she says with a weak smile. “You didn’t have to wait up for me, though.”
“Yes I did. My day’s are not the same when I don’t see your face.”
“Well, I cannot argue with that . . .” Danica sighs and glances to the side, shaking her head. “Charlie had a party last night so, I’m still not fully awake.”
“Did you not sleep well?” I ask, resting my chin on my arms, on the desk. Now that I think of it, her eyes are red and puffy. This is not my sweet Danica.
“Barely,” Danica replies earnestly, running her fingers through her hair. “I didn’t join the party for too long, but it lasted past midnight and I couldn’t sleep from the noise . . .”
“Moj slatki,” I say softly, frowning. “You should have said something to Charlie. You know he respects you . . . But that is not the only reason you didn’t sleep . . . Talk to me, my sweet.”
“If I even think about it anymore,” she whispers, shaking her head. “I’ll just cry more . . .”
Unable to stand the thought of her having more tears, I blurt out the first thing that comes to my mind. Well, not the first thing . . .
“I’m planning a trip to see you,” I straighten my back against the chair. “I’ve got a lot of time off coming up and I’m going to spend those free days with you.”
Danica perks up and a smile spreads across her face. “Really?! You’re not just saying that to make me smile?”
“No, I’m really planning the trip. I spoke my dad about it and he is willing to let me off.”
Danica covers her face with her hands, sitting back in her chair. Suddenly, there is a shout on her end and Danica releases a squeal of terror.
“Charlie!” she shouts, jumping from her chair and disappearing from the camera’s view. “You’re such a jerk! You know I’m easily spooked!”
I chuckle softly as both Danica and Charlie appear in front of the webcam. Danica is scowling, Charlie is grinning.
“Dante, my man!” he says as he pulls a chair up next to Danica.
“Don’t call him that!” Danica exclaims, smacking his shoulder. “That might be what people call him, but to me, he’ll always be Aldrich.”
I chuckle, “Hello Charlie,” I say, shaking my head at the rivalry. “Partying like usual, I take it?”
“Too much partying,” Danica fake coughs, which only makes Charlie laugh more.
“And Danica spends too much of her time alone and writing love stories,” Charlie chimes, giving Danica a gentle shove so she nearly falls over.
“Knock it off, Randolf! You’ve been teasing me fierce since I got here yesterday!”
“It’s the truth! Do you want me lying to your boyfriend?”
“Just stop, you numbskull! Go bother Amber instead! Let me finish talking to Aldrich.”
Charlie’s face lights up and he bolts out of sight. Danica sighs with relief, smiling apologetically to me.
“I’m sorry about him,” she says, scooting her chair closer to the table. “He started dating Amethyst’s twin sister, Amber. I always wondered why he kept looking at Amethyst so strangely. Anyways . . . You want to come out here to see me?”
“I do,” I reply, returning the smile. “And I want you to show me your favorite places. I want to meet your grandparents. You talk about them often and they sound even more wonderful than you say.”
Danica blushes, “Gram is definitely eager to meet you,” she says, nodding as she pulls her knees up to her chest. “You’ll have to pinch me when you get here. I’ll think it’s a dream.”
“My sweet, what would you like me to bring with me when I come to visit? Anything you want.”
“Aldrich, you don’t have to bring me anything. Just bring yourself and I’ll be satisfied. You should know that.”
I chuckle, “I do know that . . . But I would like to bring you something, nonetheless.”
Danica is thoughtful a moment, looking to something off camera. I sigh, wishing that I could reach my hand through the computer screen to touch her cheek. To hold her. Kiss her senseless. I actually think I know the perfect thing to bring with me. But it will have to remain a secret. Can’t let Danica know about it until everything is perfect.