Nostalgia is a Liar

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Chapter Fifteen

Present Day, Fall 2019

Luna had gone down to Newbury Street, doing some retail therapy. Get her mind off current circumstance.

She steps out of a boutique store, head down and looking at her mobile.

“Luna!”

She looks up to find Rachel, shopping bags in each hand. Luna notices the Bundle of Joy motive on the bags. She had been shopping for Shanna’s baby.

“Rach…”

They embrace.

Rachel’s eyes follow Luna’s line of sight. Her face turns solemn, pitying.

“How’ve you been?”

“I’m good. How are you? And Alec and Maxie?”

“We’re good. Max is turning into a full-on tween and he’s not even reached double digits yet. Lord, I brace myself for the actual teen years.”

Luna smiles.

“Can we get coffee? Just two shops over, there’s this cute new café… I forget the name…”

“… Bogart’s…”

Luna helps with some of the bags, as they walk along.

They get to the café and are seated outside, ordering coffees.

“So Jason tells me you guys went to the game…”

“Hmmm… he accidentally invited me to the engagement party” Luna giggles.

“God, Jason…” she rolls her eyes “We wanted to invite you to the baby shower… but…”

“It’s okay. It’s difficult and kinda weird… coz Coop is marrying…”

“Hannah from Marketing!”

They share a chuckle.

“But you two spoke?”

“Yeah… we’re good.” Luna frowns, “He’s okay though right? With Shan and the baby… and everything?”

Rachel wears a knowing smile, “You two… the one always more concerned with the other’s wellbeing. He’s doing the best he can. But only the two of you can know how truly difficult it must be… Baby girl, what you went through…”

“I’m happy for Shan…” Luna clears her throat, “I just…”

Luna has a suffocating feeling settled on her chest. Her eyes were glossy.

Rachel reaches across the table, gripping Luna’s hand.

“I know you are Luna. But you can still be happy for Shanna and JJ… and equally sad for you and Cooper.”

“He’s going to move on, have babies with Hannah… I’m…” she rolls her tongue across her teeth in her half-open mouth, “…I’m so scared that all I’ll ever be is broken and barren…”

Her eyes swam with tears now. When she looks up to meet Rachel’s gaze, a tear makes its way down her cheek. She wipes at her face with the back of her hand.

“That is not true. You deserve to be a mother. You will be a wonderful mother. And I believe it will happen for you one way or another. You have too much love in your heart to give, this world is cruel and unfair… but I believe in your happy ending Luna.”

Rachel while still seated, drags her chair across, next to Luna. She wraps her arms around her. Luna’s damp cheek pressed against hers. Rachel squeezes her eyes shut, pushing back the tears.

The lenses of her spectacles fogging up at the ambient temperature caused by the closeness of their faces.

“I’m okay…” Luna grips Rachel’s upper arm, pushing back slightly.

She straightens, clears her throat again. Reaching for a tissue in her bag.

“I’ll be okay… eventually…” Luna gives Rachel’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

“We’re all here for you Luna”

Luna sighs, “I love you guys… but I can’t do this to Cooper. He deserves happiness… and I’m just a reminder of everything he lost”

“You are so much more than that!”

“I need to find a way to stand on my own… you know? It’s been me and Cooper for so long, I’ve forgotten what it was like to be completely alone. And I guess I took that for granted when I had him… how much of my world he actually was… he was all of it”

Her eyes widen in realization.

“Well I for one am all in on helping you become empowered. However and wherever I can. Hannah will be my sister-in-law, but you will always be a sister… okay?”

Luna pulls Rachel back in, tucking her arms underneath and around her waist.

The waitress arrives with their coffee.

“Anything else for you ladies?”

Rachel smiles, “No thank you, but you can bring the cheque when you’re next doing rounds please?”

“No problem” and she’s back on her way.

Luna traces her finger along the rim of the cup.

“Have they set a date yet?”

“For the wedding?”

Luna nods.

Rachel squints, adjusting her spectacles. “I actually don’t know… I know that she wanted to have an engagement party… a big hoopla. Her parents are flying in from Maine.”

Luna’s mouth curves upward, “How did it all come about… like, did she just ask him out once she heard we broke up?”

Rachel nearly spits up her coffee. “She actually came by my parent’s house coz Coop moved back briefly… you know after…”

“He kicked himself out of our apartment?”

“You know Cooper, he just wanted to make it an easier transition…”

Luna nods, “In hindsight I wish I had moved out too… always surrounded by memories of us in that apartment. But I appreciate him for what he did”

“If it’s any consolation, he held out for 5 months of persistence on her part. And then one day he just decided to ask her out.”

He asked her out?”

“Hmmm… it was weird, we were all shocked. Coz he just kept brushing off her advances… and then, next thing we knew they’d gone out on a couple of dates. They must’ve date about 2 or 3 months before he proposed… very un-Cooper like too”

“How do you mean?”

“No big, romantic gesture… this from the guy that knows the words to Disney songs, painted your toenails, make a big show of Valentine’s Day and anniversaries… you know, a real-life Prince Charming…”

“The proposal was meh?”

“He proposed at the office in the break room… no, down on one knee or skywriting or air balloon…”

Luna shakes her head, smiling “That’s not Cooper… I mean the skywriting or air balloon…”

She pauses, frowns and then realization dawns on her face. “Well, I guess that’s not what he would’ve done with me… coz I always gave him a hard time on cheesy stuff…”

“I’ve always loved that about you two… that he was the over-the-top romantic and you the one to reign him in” Rachel smiles fondly “Well, guess it’s more traditional with Hannah.”

“Promise you’ll give her a fair chance Rach?”

“Of course, she’s my brother’s fiancé. She’ll be family. But I can still miss my second favorite couple after me and Alec”

Rachel checks her watch, taking a few more sips of her coffee in haste.

“I totally forgot that I still have to pick up Max from Lacrosse practice…”

She flags down the waitress.

“You go Rach, I’ll take care of the bill”

“You sure?”

Luna nods, she gets up to give Rachel one last hug.

“It was good to see you Rach”

“And you” Rachel gives her another squeeze. Before she packs up and takes the road.

When Luna gets back to the apartment, she closes the door and sinks down to the floor.

She exhales a breath she felt she had been keeping all this while. Tears stream down her cheeks. No cries. No sound. Just tears.

Luna closes her eyes, leans her head further back.

She wasn’t sure where this sudden rush of emotion came from. She had recovered from her heavy conversation with Rachel. But somehow, only now she started feeling that hollow pit in her stomach.

There’s a knock on the door. Luna opens her eyes. She waits, thinking she may have misheard.

Knock again.

Luna gets up cumbersome and slowly.

She opens the door. Shocked to find Cooper standing in front of her.

“Hey…”

One look at the drained expression on her face and he reached out, wrapping his arms around her. Her eyes had been red and puffy from crying.

“Are you okay?” he holds her at arm’s length, observing her.

Luna shrugs, walking toward the sofa. “It’s just been a long day…”

She stops at the sofa, turns to look at Cooper.

“I ran into Rach… she was shopping for the baby… and we grabbed a coffee…”

“Oh”

“What are you doing here?”

“I…” his face was puzzled, as though he forgot why he came by. “I… well… are you okay?”

“You asked that already”

“Lu, I know when you’ve been crying…”

She sits on the armrest of the sofa. He edges closer, until he is stood in front her again.

“It was just a lot… the baby… and your engagement…”

“My engagement?”

Luna shakes her head, getting up from the sofa. He follows her into the kitchen.

She opens the fridge and grabs a bottle of water.

“It came up…” she twists the cap off, placing it on the counter. Taking a sip of the water.

“Nothing to discuss really, I asked, and she said yes…”

“At work in the break room…” Luna raises her eyebrows, “… but no judgement here…”

He leans in the doorway, hands in the pockets of his slacks. He must’ve come from work, as he was dressed in office attire. His seaweed green dress shirt was unbuttoned down to just below his collarbone. Specs of his chest hair on display.

Suddenly the rush of sadness returned. Luna places the water bottle on the counter. She lowers her gaze; fearful Cooper would see the tears in her eyes.

She chews at the inside of her cheek, rocking on the balls of her heels. To no avail, a tear trickles down her cheek.

She clears her throat, scurries past Cooper to the bathroom. “Would you excuse me?”

He whips around, following her to the bathroom. Just as she was about to close the door, he stops it midway.

“Don’t shut me out Luna…”

She looks up into his eyes. And the dam wall broke, tears came at will.

He wraps his arms around her. “It’s okay… you have every right to be sad… I’m sad too… Shhhh”

She grabs hold of his shirt, bunched up and fisted in her hands. She weeps against his chest. The tremor of his voice reverberating through her.

They lay cradled in the empty bathtub. Luna nestled against Cooper’s chest. His arms guarding her close to him. He’d press recurrent kisses to her forehead, as he attempted soothing her pain away. Their legs entangled in the tight quarters confined to.

Luna mutters, her lips close enough to kiss his somewhat exposed chest “I miss you so much it hurts. And I know I have no right to…”

She pushes back, looking up into his eyes “… but I do. I miss our life together. I miss your love. I miss your touch… I miss hugging your back. I miss when you used to kiss my forehead, my nose, my temples, my lips. I miss how you’d whisper ’Hey, you’ when you wanted to tell me something so special and just for us… I hope you don’t say it to her… but I can’t say that, I can’t ask that of you… I have no claims, no right to… I miss us. I miss you”

“Lu, I miss us… miss you too… but…”

“Even if we could go back, we don’t belong there anymore”

Her eyes try to blink back the tears, failing prodigiously.

He runs his thumb across her wet cheek. Pressing a kiss where his thumb was moments ago.

“I just…I don’t feel I belong anywhere anymore. Like when you met me, and I had a house but not a home. And I get it… it’s not your problem… I’m not your problem to fix anymore… I just…I feel so out of place, so out of time… I just miss you.”

He pulls her closer again.

Her arm tucked under his flank. She plays with the button on his shirt, tracing circles on the small disc. Tugging at the thread.

She felt like the thread she was unraveling, weaved through the tiny buttonholes, over and over. Around and around, cyclical and seemingly redundant, but necessary. The thread required many goes around to fasten against the fabric of the shirt.

So too the tears and heartache, the emptiness and overwhelming grief, required to fill the void again. She felt she was being played on a loop, an endless loop of tears and heartache.

Wondering when it all would come to a head. Wondering who she’d be if she ever made it to the other side of it.

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