Nostalgia is a Liar

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Chapter Seventeen

Present Day, Fall 2019

Luna wanders around the apartment, restless. She goes into the bedroom, opens the top drawer in the chest.

There were tons of Cooper’s t-shirts and hoodies he had left behind. Because he knew that she loved sleeping in or wearing them.

She smiles.

She pulls out the entire drawer off the runners, carries it over to the middle of the bedroom floor. She sits down, legs crossed and starts taking each clothing item out one by one. A memory comes with every piece removed.

As she reaches for a shirt right at the back corner, she feels an object beneath the fabric. She frowns, clutching to remove it.

It was a velvet jewelry box, seemingly a ring box. She flicks the top to open the box. Back at her shone an engagement ring.

Que…”

She stares out into open space, confused.

Her mind immediately tracks back to the Winter of 2016. Luna and Cooper were visiting his parents over the Christmas holiday.

*****

It was Christmas Eve. They sat by the piano. Cooper was wearing his cable knit sweater, the off-white one that seemed to have seen better days. Tattered and worn out. But she loved the smell and feel of the sweater. And she loved the way he looked wearing it.

She sat next to him, drinking eggnog. As he played a few put-together chords.

They find a songbook on the piano top. His mom was helping the school with their Christmas Recital, it was Disney themed. She had the sheet music to accompany on the piano.

Lisa had taught Cooper to play the piano when he was 5 years old.

Cooper flips through the pages of the book, settling on one.

He starts playing the chords to Go The Distance. It didn’t have lyrics on the sheet music, but he figured he’d wing it. How hard could it be?

His fingers flicking between the keys, trying to find the correct chord.

“Is that the one from Hercules?” she tries to read the sheet music, taking a sip of eggnog. Squinting at the page.

“Hmmm” he smiles

He starts singing softly, almost unsure “I have often dreamed… of a far-off place… where a great warm welcome will be waiting for me

He cracks up, laughing “… wait that’s not right… it’s a hero’s welcome”

Then finds his voice, almost theatrical “… where the crowds would cheer, when they see my face… and a voice keeps saying… this is where I want to be. I am on my way… I can go the distance. I’ll be there someday… if I can be strong… I know every mile… will be worth my while. I would go most anywhere to feel like I… belong…

Plays the key chords confidently. Then frowns and laughs again. He stops playing.

“I completely got most if not all the lyrics wrong”

“You did?” Luna takes a few huge sips. Her cheeks were flushed. The irises of her eyes big and yellowy-green, her pupils almost disappeared into nothingness.

He looks across at her and presses a kiss to her milky lips, licking after the taste.

He chuckles when he finds the next song, he knew it would garner a reaction from Luna.

He starts playing the chords.

She frowns trying to figure it out. She leans closer to the page.

He starts signing, “I can show you the world… Shining, shimmering, splendid…

“Oh God no… not Aladdin… eek”

He chuckles, looking across at her as he continues “Tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide?... I can open your eyes... take you wonder by wonder…over, sideways and under on a magic carpet ride…

“Noooo” she struggles between her fit of giggles.

He stops playing again, pages through the book. Settles confidently on the next one.

He starts playing the chords to Can You Feel The Love.

He starts singing, “I can see what’s happening… they don’t have a clue…”

“Oh, I like this one…” she closes her eyes, swaying along to the melodic beat.

Smiling he continues, “They’ll fall in love and here’s the bottom line… our trio’s down to two… sweet caress of twilight… there’s magic… everywhere… and with all this romantic atmosphere… disaster’s in the air! Can you feel the love tonight?!... peace the evening brings. The world for once… in perfect harmony! … with all its living things. So many things to tell her… but how to make her see… the truth about my past… impossible… she’d turn away from me…

He pages again, he stops on Beauty and the Beast. Looks across at Luna.

“No fucking way…” she grabs the book. She proceeds to rip the page from the book, crumples it into a ball.

This has Cooper in stitches. “You know Ma might still need that…”

“Oh shit”

She frantically tries to iron out the wrinkles, spilling eggnog as she goes along.

“Now you’re fucked” Cooper chuckles, as he points to the eggnog stains on the page.

Luna looks up at him, lips pouting.

He reaches out and runs his thumb across her lips, then presses a kiss to her mouth.

He looks across the room, spots Waffles nibbling on his chew toy.

Cooper whistles, “Come here buddy… Waffles!... come here boo-boo!”

Waffles runs across to them, wagging his tail as he sits obediently in front of Cooper.

Cooper takes the sheet, balls it up again and gives it to Waffles.

“Ma would never be mad at this dog; she loves him more than she loves me… let him take the rap.” Cooper shrugs

“Under no circumstance… how can you even suggest it Cooper Thindrel!” Luna stumbles up from the chair, pries the now soggy sheet from between Waffles’ teeth.

She pets him, “Sorry cariño… daddy’s being silly”

She kisses the tip of his snout. Waffles goes back to the corner of the room, resumes chewing his toy. Oblivious to his near run in with Lisa, orchestrated by Cooper.

She drops the mess of sheet of paper on the top of the piano, pulling a face. She wipes her hand on the back of her jeans. She sits back down next to Cooper.

“I’ll cop to it babe… besides, I smell just as bad as Waffles, so it’ll be believable” he jokes

“I feel bad… but I think it was a public service in fairness… no-one wants to hear that song anymore…”

He tosses his head back laughing.

He starts playing the chords to If I never knew you.

He sings, “If I never knew you… if I never felt this love. I would have no inkling of… how precious life can be… and if I never held you, I would never have a clue… how at last I’d find in you… the missing part of me…

She rests her head on his shoulder. He carries on playing.

“You know you’re my real-life fairytale… my Disney princess…”

“Am I the Pocahontas to your John Smith?”

He chuckles, “You know… fact-girl… the real Pocahontas was 10 years old and John Smith, a 27-year-old dude…”

She smirks, “… and he was a real asshole and not so for the people as they made him out to be in the movie… Can we just pretend that Disney’s version is the real deal?”

“Babe, I say let’s create our own fairytale…”

“I like the sound of that… just no towers, spell-bound creatures, arranged marriages or flying carpets”

His laughter rumbles in his chest.

“So, in our fairytale… you’d have to eventually propose to me el jugador

“Ouch Lu…shots fired” he smiles

“Pitch me the scenario”

He starts playing the chords to Reflection. This one without looking at the sheet music. It doesn’t go unnoticed by Luna, as she smiles.

“Can it be at a ball game?”

“That’s a joke, right?”

“I’m thinking, kiss cam and PA announcement… phenomenal!”

“Okay, next?”

He giggles under his breath, “A flash mob in Boston Common?”

She snorts as she laughs.

“I go on one knee to tie my shoelace while we’re walking on the Charles River Esplanade…”

“Store to memory… go on…”

“Dinner at Top of the Hub and the ring in your desert…”

“So that’s what it takes for you to finally take me there?”

“I take you there, babe… don’t I?” he squints his eyes, trying to remember.

“Must be your other girlfriend”

He recovers by pressing a quick kiss to her temple.

“I think, I would surprise you… as it should be…”

She looks up at him. Her eyes droopy, cheeks a brighter shade of pink.

“You’re tipsy”

“I’m happy”

She puckers her lips for a kiss, to which he obliges.

“I love you so damn much”

She smiles, nestling her head in the crevasse below his jaw. “… and I love you”

*****

Luna removes the ring from the padded groove. She slips it on her ring finger. Stares at the diamond sparkling back at her.

All she could think was… when did he plan on proposing? When did he buy the ring? Why did he end up not proposing? What had she done to make him change his mind? Did losing Monroe Elora change his mind?

She plays around with the ring on her finger. It seemed the most natural thing, having an engagement ring adorn her hand. But it was another lie. Another fantasy. Another piece of their history that could have been, had she not ruined it all.

Hannah was wearing the true and meaningful engagement ring now. She was his fiancé. Luna never was. Almost counts for naught in the grander scheme of things.

Luna slowly, almost regretfully, pulls the ring from her finger. She grips the round metal in between her index finger and thumb. Studying the shimmering diamond atop it.

The diamond was clear and bright. Representative of their future before the fracture that disintegrated their world.

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