Nostalgia is a Liar

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Chapter Nineteen

Present Day, Winter 2019

Cooper is joining Hannah and her mother, Olivia, for brunch before they head out to do wedding cake tasting.

He wasn’t in the mood to spend his Saturday mid-morning doing this. But Hannah had been on his case to become more involved in the wedding planning. In hopes of preventing another unnecessary argument, he copped to doing this. But now that the day had arrived, he was living in regret.

Hannah and her mom kiss-greeted each other. The cheek to cheek kisses Europeans did.

While the ladies enjoyed Mimosas, Cooper decided to indulge in a Guinness.

They were having a lively conversation about table décor, while his mind slipped away to somewhere else.

His mind went back to the engagement party, and finally confirming what had been gnawing at the back of his mind – the doubt, the question of why he was marrying Hannah.

He’d been spending every waking moment seeking affirmation from his family and friends that he was doing the right thing by proposing to Hannah. Afterall, it was the sensible thing to do. It was the step he had to take, to get himself from the low he had been. On a path to a better, brighter, happier life. Or so he thought.

He wasn’t sure if it was running into Luna again that had him asking the question or if it had been there all along. But he couldn’t stop thinking about Luna, and the life they had together. He couldn’t stop questioning every move he was making with Hannah right now. He couldn’t stop running the parallels.

Hannah reaches out and grabs his wrist, jolting him back to the table and the present.

“Huh?” he asks in a daze

“Where were you just now?”

“What do you mean? I’m here…” annoyed at the accusation, he takes a gulp of his Guinness.

She flares her nostrils; upset at the tone he was taking and his taciturn attitude all day. On a normal day he would pander to her whims. But he was in a mood today and couldn’t be bothered trying to excuse his tone.

“Well I said… we should get the bill!”

“Fine” he flags down the waiter.

Olivia’s eyes bulge at their exchange. She suggests going to the ladies with Hannah.

Cooper clenches his jaw, as they stand up to go.

“Settle the bill, so we can go. The bakery is only open for another two hours.” She barks

“Yeah…”

His face, his eyes, had dulled. He was tired and wasn’t sure how much more he had in him.

He watches as Hannah and Olivia walk arms interlocked. Hannah’s high-pitched laughter echoing through him. He squeezes his eyes shut.

They take an age to get back from the restroom, after he’d already settled the bill. He paces on the sidewalk outside, when they finally emerge.

This day was beginning to drag, and his mood was worsening.

“Are you okay Cooper?” Olivia reaches out to touch his forearm.

He shakes his head, “Just a migraine. I think I’m gonna skip out on cake tasting Han…” he turns to face her. As expected, her face turned sour at his revelation.

“Well you have been in a terrible and non-cooperative mood in any case Cooper. So, you being here is completely and utterly useless. Mother and I will carry on. You go do whatever it is you need to get your mind back into the swing of things.”

For some inexplicable reason, he stood there and absorbed her passive aggressiveness. He chucks his hands into the pockets of his slacks, drops his head zoning his focus on his shoes.

He waits for them to leave first before heading to his car.

When he finally sits in the driver’s seat. He drops his head to the steering wheel and exhales.

He felt like just hitting the road and driving. He starts up the engine and heads off down the road.

No music, just silence in the car. He kept driving until he finally stopped at Charles River Esplanade. That is where the driving led. That’s where his heart wanted to be right now.

He got out of the car and started walking. He walked onto the wooden dock overlooking the river. Stood there, hands again tucked into his pockets. Cooper closes his eyes and exhales another breath. He tilts his head up to the sky, letting the crisp winter air kiss his face.

He knew he was missing Luna and the life they had. But in the moment, it dawned on him – he was missing his daughter. He had suppressed his anger and resentment over the sudden and unexpected loss of what was meant to be the greatest moment in his life.

As he lowers his head, opening his eyes, a tear rolls down his cheek. He shakes his head and runs a hand across his face, over his beard.

He watches the deep blue water, with tiny ripples going across the river. The trees, the bridge and the buildings scaping the background. It was all so vivid. The day they scattered Monroe Elora’s ashes on the river. How he felt he needed to remain strong for Luna’s sake, but inside it felt as though someone had taken a sledgehammer to his gut. He felt empty inside. He felt cheated out of something. Cheated out of fatherhood. Unsure if he’d ever experience it or if he even wanted to again.

He removes his hand from his pocket now, staring at his left hand. His brows knitted. If he closes his eyes now, he could place himself back here a year ago. He could feel the texture of the ashes on his palm still. The feel of his daughter’s ashes, it had the coarseness of sand. The memory of her tiny face when he held her in the delivery room. His concern at the sight of her swollen discolored eyes.

Every time he went to feel the weight of the loss, he pulled himself together. He had to remain strong. Whenever he’d have a reaction, he’d regroup and try to fix things up again.

That is where he got stuck now. He never allowed himself to come undone or fall apart long enough to start healing. He was too busy trying to put back together broken things that no amount of fixing would ever make the same again.

His daughter was gone, and there was no piece big or significant enough to fix or make the fissure whole again.

Cooper lowers down to his haunches, resting his elbows on his knees. His head drops, forehead to a fisted hand and the welled-up tears drip down his cheeks. He cries.

Losing his balance, staggering backward, having to steady himself with his hand on the wooden dock beneath him. As he chokes back on the tears, his throat hoarse at the sound exhumed.

He loses further control, until he is seated legs outstretched on the dock. Hunched over and letting it all out. No muffling, no silencing, no suppressing.

He just sat there and cried. Cried over the loss of his daughter. Cried over the loss of his relationship. Cried over his forever broken heart.

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