Nostalgia is a Liar

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Chapter Eleven

Fall, 2018

It’s the weekend of Shanna and JJ’s wedding. Luna and Cooper are at the rehearsal dinner. Cooper and Jason are best men. Luna is a bridesmaid.

Luna sits alone at a table, her finger tracing the rim of her half-full wine glass. She nods along to the musician singing John Mayer’s Gravity with piano accompaniment.

Oh twice as much ain’t twice as good

And can’t sustain like one half could

It’s wanting more that’s gonna

Send me to my knees

Jason sits down, “Hey girl”

Luna smiles, taking a sip of her wine.

“Do you wanna get outta here?”

Que?”

“Go for a smoke with me?” he tilts his head to the kitchen entrance door.

Luna finishes the wine in her glass; gets up and follows Jason through the kitchen and out the back.

Cooper had surveyed the twosome, cradling his glass of bourbon. He drops his gaze when they are out of sight.

Jason lights up a cigarette, blows out a puff of smoke.

“I thought you quit” Luna observes.

“You know how it goes” he shrugs.

He looks at her, waiting and then adds “You know it breaks my heart to see you this sad”

“Then don’t look” she retorts, tongue-in-cheek.

“You know Cooper doesn’t know which end is up with you anymore.”

“Really?”

“You don’t talk to him Lu… and that is just crazy to me. Coz your connection is telepathic almost…”

“If it were, he’d know there’s nothing to say.”

“Don’t do that”

“Do what Jase?”

“Shut him out… shut us all out…”

“Everyone’s moved on Jase… just picked up and carried on… no big deal.” She takes the cigarette from between his fingers and takes a pull. “I don’t know how to do that. I know that I’m supposed to move on and go back to the way things were… but I don’t know how… it’s really hard.”

“Lunabeam, there is no right way to do this. What you guys went through, that shit was hard… and real as fuck. Don’t let anyone dictate how you grieve. But also remember, there’s this floppy-haired geek in there who just wants to fix things for you, always has and always will… And it is absolutely killing him that he can’t help you, because baby girl… you won’t let him.”

Luna rolls her eyes, “What can he do? He can’t bring her back. He can’t undo what happened. What can he do?”

“He can love you… and you can let him…”

“I do”

Jason raises his eyebrows, “You do?”

“What is that supposed to mean? Does he think I don’t love him anymore? Just because I’m not skywriting it?”

“What is the solution then Lu? What makes this better? What makes you better?”

There is a lump in her throat, tears are threatening. “I don’t know…” she mutters

Cooper is at the bar. Shanna walks over, leaning with her elbow on the counter, facing him.

She smiles. “You okay?”

He nods, his face expressionless.

“Saw Lu and Jase head out back… you guys haven’t said a word to each other all night…”

“Yip, pretty much sums up every day of every week…”

“Maybe you guys should try counseling again?”

“I don’t know what to do Shan… I want to make things work… I want to be there for her, coz I can see she’s still suffering… struggling even. But she’s well and truly boxed me out. And I’m outta moves. I love this girl, with every fiber of my being… but I can’t make her love me back”

“She loves you, don’t be stupid.”

He sighs heavily. “I tell myself that every day. And every day… when she looks at me and I look back into her eyes… there’s nothing there… vacant, detached, taciturn… her lassitude demeanor… I’m outta moves…”

“Don’t give up on her Coop. What you guys went through was not easy… and it must’ve been hell for her… maybe time, right? They say time heals all wounds.”

“Time… I don’t get that. Why does time apparently heal all wounds? It punishes and dictates and isolates… you do time in prison, you put in time to get from one point to another, you have to spend a certain amount of time at work… when has time ever made anything better… it just reminds you, that things are not okay and for how long it won’t be okay”

Her eyes go round. “Cooper… you love Luna. And Luna loves you. If time can’t help, love has to matter for something.”

Cooper stares into his sister’s eyes, “What if love is just not enough?”

Luna and Jason walk back into the room. Cooper’s eyes light up. She could still take his breath away. The cobalt blue dress she was wearing accentuated her curves, cut just above the knee exposing her beautiful, tanned legs.

Luna smiles.

He walks over to her, as the musician starts playing another John Mayer song. Cooper forgets to be annoyed at the selection.

“Hey, you…” he reaches out to grip her waist. She lets him.

She runs her hand up his arm.

He pulls her closer, they start swaying to the music.

She rests her head on his shoulder.

“You look really pretty tonight…” he whispers.

Luna smiles, “You look really pretty too”

He chuckles.

“I’m surprised you’re dancing to John Mayer…”

“I’d dance to complete silence with you Lu”

She turns her head, her nose pressed against his neck. She closes her eyes and lets his scent of an invigorating earth after rainfall take her away to a different place and time.

He gulps, “Are we gonna be okay Lu?”

“Hmmm”

He resigns to the response. Her walls were up and like he said, he was outta moves.

When they get home, Luna does as per routine – runs a bubble bath and spends hours in there behind a locked door, Lauryn Hill blasting through her wireless speaker. Waffles the only company allowed entry; as he sits by the bathtub chewing on his favorite toy.

Cooper gets undressed, pulling his dark-grey Henley shirt up and over his head. The golden necklace around his neck cool against his bare chest. He stares down at the flat, round pendant.

He holds it between his thumb and index finger and reads the engraving Monroe Elora. He runs his thumb over the engraved angel wings and halo, presses a kiss to the cool precious metal.

He rummages through his drawer, looking for a clean shirt and finds a red, velvet box.

He picks it up and flips the lid open. He stares at the diamond ring glaring back at him.

He had bought the engagement ring almost a year ago. He was planning to propose that same week Monroe was stillborn.

He shuts the lid on the box, gripping it in a clenched fist. He closes his eyes, nostrils flaring. A spike of fury igniting inside him. Next moment, the box flung through the air and clatters against the wall. His jaw clenched; hands fisted at his side.

He turns to slam the drawer shut, rocking the contents on the surface of the chest to come clattering to the floor.

The bathroom door opens. Luna stood; a bath sheet wrapped around her body. Waffles peering at him with doe eyes, hiding behind her legs.

“What are you doing?”

Cooper looks back at her. He shakes his head. Lowers his gaze, his hands now on his hips.

“I…” he sighs, “Uhm… nothing… nothing Lu…”

Her eyebrows draw together, “Okay…”

She retreats in the bathroom, closing and latching the door behind her. The click echoed through him. Signally he’d once again been shut out.

He runs his palm down his face, letting out a frustrated sigh. First, he picks up all the scattered items from the floor, replacing them from where they fell. Restoring order.

Then he walks over to the corner of the room and lowers to retrieve the box. He flicks if open again, shaking his head.

He lowers further down, sitting with his back against the wall. Staring at the open box, diamond ring staring back at him. Mocking him.

He holds a fisted hand up to his mouth. Tears well up in his eyes. He muffles his cry, placing his palm over his nose and mouth. He sobs uncontrollably for a few minutes, straightens himself out and gets up from the floor. Restoring order.

He buries the ring right at the back of the drawer and underneath a pile of t-shirts.

He tosses himself onto the bed, puts his headphones on and starts listening to his Stillness Speaks – Eckhart Tolle audiobook.

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