Nostalgia is a Liar

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Chapter Twelve

Winter, 2018

Cooper is sitting on the couch, a beer in hand and watching a DVRd Patriots match.

Luna is sat opposite him on the lazy sofa chair, staring at the same page of the book she’d been reading for an hour.

She glances across at the TV screen, dropping the book in her lap. Losing the place of where she stopped reading.

He looks at her, letting out a sigh of trepidation.

He clears his throat, “You do know you can still talk to me, right?”

She meets his gaze with a blank stare.

He continues, “I am still that same guy you fell in love with all those years ago… same dude… and I’m hoping, praying… still the guy you love right now…”

“Why would you say that?”

“What? Questioning if you still have feelings for me… love for me?”

She rolls her eyes in frustration, tension now settling in her shoulders.

“Oh right… forgot…” he holds up his hand in submission, for added emphasis “… we’re pretending that everything is fine, like nothing happened… that we didn’t just suffer the most incredible loss. The paradigm of our relationship, of our companionship even… it’s shifted. But Luna, we are still us…”

He now sits forward, “My love for you hasn’t changed. I haven’t changed.”

“But I have!” tears shone in her eyes, “I have changed…”

She struggles to compose herself; her breathing becomes arduous and her voice cracking under the threat of ever-present tears.

“… and no matter how…” her voice rasps, “hard…”

She swallows hard, “… how hard I try…” she tries again, “… or how much I want to go back to the me I was before…”

She shakes her head, struggling through the sobs now.

Cooper instinctively edges further forward in his seat, almost off the couch; as he wants to reach out and console her as he always does when she’s upset. But instead, he places the beer on the table. He rubs his palms ferociously over his bent knees; and then up and down his thighs.

He badly wants to get up from the couch and pull Luna into his arms. But again, he realizes by the pained expression on her face that she needed space.

“You say you haven’t changed Cooper… and maybe you haven’t” her glistening eyes meet his, finally “… but you don’t look at me the same. It’s like you see…you see…”

A teardrop blinks from her eye, she clears her throat again and lowers her gaze.

When she looks up again, Cooper is lowered down in front of her. He takes her hands in his.

“Lu, I do see you. I see you’re hurting… and you’re carrying around all this pain…”

“You see I’m broken…” her voice trails off

He cups her hands in his, raised to his mouth and pressing a kiss to their gathered hands.

“Babe… tell me what to do… what to say… I would do anything.” He pleads, his voice cracking under the weight of the words now too, “Let me help carry this burden of guilt you’ve put on yourself… take it away, because this is not on you… Let me be there for you Lu… just let me back in… remember, I will fix this whole goddamn world up for you…”

“I can’t…”

His eyelids slowly drop as he lowers his gaze. His long, dark eyelashes casting shadows on his cheeks as they always do.

Luna knew his eyes weren’t shut, she resigned herself to the fact that he could no longer look at her. She created this weight of disappointment on his behalf. It settled now on her chest again. It filled the room.

He finally looks back up, “I don’t know where to go from here… I love…” another crack in his voice, “…I love you… more than I’ve ever loved anyone in my life… and I would go to the ends of the earth for you.”

He drops their hands, knees cracking as he gets up.

“I can’t keep doing this Lu… you won’t let the cloud disperse… you won’t accept my shelter…So I guess, this is how and when it ends for us.”

He walks into the bedroom, starts packing a few things into his duffel bag.

Waffles jumps into Luna’s lap. She sits petting him, tears now drying on her cheeks.

Cooper sits on the bed, tightening the shoelaces on his sneakers. He looks up at the framed photo of them on the bedside cabinet.

It was a picture of them at some concert, he couldn’t remember the one. And tucked in the corner on the outside of the glass frame, was the sonogram of Monroe Elora.

He slowly gets up, grabs the bag and slings the strap across his shoulder.

He stands by the door, looks back at Luna. Waffles jumps off her lap and runs towards him.

He lowers down to pet him one last time, “You be a good boy for mommy… okay buddy”

He presses a kiss to Waffles’ cold snout.

Coopers straightens up, “Bye Lu…”

She gets up, arms hugging her body. “Bye Coop…”

He opens the door, walks through and closes it behind him.

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