Chapter Nine: Walk With Me
“I hope you’re not still wet from the fall. What were you doing out there anyway?”
Tracking you, he wanted to say. “Well, kind of.” David places the blanket around his shoulders onto an empty chair and stares at Hannah. Who is seated across from him at a small diner. A window beside them, looks out vast fields hinted with a setting sun. “I was looking for birds.” He lies.
“Birds?” She flashes a crooked grin. He loved it already. David busies himself on his phone’s. Typing.
Text: Is that hot-air ballon still available? The one from my L.A shoot?
Reply: Yes, why?
David: Please do me a favor, Mike. I’ll pay it back.
Mike: I’m listening.
David: If you do me a solid I’ll bring my A game for the Christmas shoot in Vegas, promise.
A text bubble loads.
“Who are you texting?”
“My manager...are you hungry?” He puts his phone on the table.
“Well, a little. I can order, it seems like there’s something important you have to do.”
“Actually I do, thank you, I’ll be right back. I’ll have with you’re having.” David was glad she said that, he needed to plan this out perfectly. He smiles and receives a radiant one in return. Wow.
He hurries out to the back of the restaurant and texts his location. He watches Hannah through a back window. She doesn’t see him while she chats with a waitress. Good, perfect. David searches the sky, the window, and sky again. Repeatedly. Anxiously. Jittery. This crazy. Should I do this? A few minutes pass, when an object appears in the sky. Oval shaped, traveling through clouds. Pure white. David dashes back inside the diner where burgers, fries, and soda wait at the table. Hannah snacks.
“Come with me, please?” He whispers into her ear.
She lifts her head; delighted and obeys. In the back, the ballon is now landed in fields across the street. He leads her over; heart throbbing like drums.
“OH, MY GOD! What is this? How did you-”
“I have my ways.”
An operator exits and holds the door up for them.
Once inside, they watch a reddish-pink sky. The ballon shifts upwards slowly. Side by side they stand, their hands hanging, drawing closer. Wind ripples. The ballon rises over wide lands below. Soaring. This feels right. He inhales, his heart couldn’t wait for what his soul would say next. Both were absolutely certain of what they wanted. Who they wanted. Hannah side glances at him as he kneels, taking her dangling hands into his. Her eyes spark. Oh how I want to watch them forever. Always.
“Marry me?” The words rush out. Say yes, please? David waits for a response, shocked by himself and scared. Oh, god what am I doing? A long silence. They stare at each other. Hannah shook by his request. Her blonde hair blows like crazy. The ballon floats on. She’ll never say...
“Yes!” He gaps, smiling hugely at her; excitement on both their faces. “Yes, I will marry you.” She kneels down with him. Tracing her hands down his large arms then to his neck. Her eyelids heavy. They kiss so gently and slowly. Savoring bliss, with silent lips. A moment they’d never forget. An unexpected kiss, a journey of two hearts...the start of new love
Grace’s legs sprint to the park across the street, quickly dodging traffic. Pounding her way to old love which was now rekindled. Cool winds of twilight whip across her face as she treks pass a playground while the moon shines. Her feet beat, her heart’s adrenaline rushing. David is asking for me! Her mind celebrates: yes, he has came to his senses!
Grace realizes she was lost. Scarlett hadn’t given her the exact location. That bitch did that on purpose. She ends up walking for a while. Circling a few areas twice before deciding to follow her senses instead. Which leads to a bricked path in the center of the park. On a bench in front of a pond, Hannah and David are seated. They were far apart, not side by side as they should have been. They’d been arguing...over what? Over him choosing me instead? Smugness takes over her while approaches them. It bet it’s that.
Hannah saw her first but didn’t let the stare linger. An evil glint written in her eyes. Still in a wedding dress, the poor little bride steamed. Then David noticed her, his eyes sad. “Walk with me,” he demands them and makes his way down the bricked path.
The girls did as he said, knowing that this was one of their moment of bliss. Hannah face drip with tears as she follows, ahead of Grace; arms folded, train dragging on the ground. Am I the chosen one? That was the only explanation as to why Hannah is so mad. The bride glares back at her. They trail after the groom. There was nothing bonding the girls anymore, there was no sign that identified them as best friends anymore. That was destroyed and erased. No love. Lost connection.
“I’ve known you my entire life, I trusted you more than anyone in the world and you do this! I would have never thought that out of all people living, that you would treat me like this.”
Grace laughs hardly. “And how do you think I feel?”
“Don’t know, because you don’t tell me anything, instead you decided to run around being a backstabbing ho!”
“Yeah, that’s what you are. Do you need the definition?” Hannah gets in her face. “David told me everything. About when you called him the day I spreaded the good news, how you basically harassed him-”
“And still you went on with it, you didn’t even care about how I felt. I was heartbroken this morning finding out that you pushed my feelings to the side. HOW COULD YOU BE SO HEARTLESS?!!” Hannah slaps Grace, the sound echoes through the park.
David steers between them. “Stop.” He huffs. “Shut the hell up and listen, both of you! I don’t want to hear it. I made up my mind, so just listen.”
“I already know, David, you’re choosing her, you don’t need to say it, I know.”
“No, I’m not.” He places a hand in the pocket of his tux.
Grace inhales sharply, her heart sinks in response to what he’d just said. This doesn’t make any sense! “I don’t...get it, what you mean-” Her lip quivers.
“Come here.” He extends both hands out to the girls, who accept, and crosses a bridge over water. At the end there is a gazebo. David guides them inside it. Their feet step together, crunching on leaves, their voices lost. He holds out two letters out. “This is all I can say right now.” The old friends stare at one another, lost, then back at him. He kisses their foreheads hastily then gives them the letters. With glossy eyes, he treads away, back down the bricked path. Grace holds her stomach. Hannah’s dress blows; the hand that holds the letter, drops to her side. In the distance David turns the corner. Out of sight.
Remember when I told you that there was no other woman who could replace you? I must admit that you still hold that much importance to me. I made a broken promise, I’m sorry. I should have been careful, it’s my fault that this all happened, you’re not to blame. There are so many regrets on my mind right now. I didn’t live up to what I said. I keep thinking about that one night in that smelly old auditorium and all those lanterns. I can’t forget it. Especially the dream about our baby. That familiar, unknown song you sang. I told you before that my mind thought back to that night, because the truth is that I still want it. I went through so much trouble finding those damn lanterns, you wouldn’t believe half of it. But it was worth the time. Grace, you’re my first, I’m sorry that you weren’t my last. Things change, it’s natural. So, please don’t drift apart from Hannah, instead take your anger out on me.
Please accept that life is unpredictable when it comes to love and know that I adore you still as I’ve done years ago, and promise me that you’ll mend things. Your friend is more hurt than you know, and so are you. Be there for each other, heal together. Don’t let this come between you two.
Keep In Touch. Always Yours, David.
I never told you about the day we met, honestly I was too embarrassed to. The truth is that I saw you preparing to sail, that small second lead me to follow you. My mind thought you were a dream, that you were unreal. Even when that was proven false, there was still doubt. I lied and said bird watching made me nearly drown, when really you were the wings that reeled me into the lake. You saved my life, although I knew how to swim, all that knowledge was lost when your soul sheltered me to safety. In my understanding, it was love at first sight. Literally the instant my eyes saw you. So much, that I proposed the same day and was blessed with the understanding that you felt the same.
There was so much more we could have been and twice as much we could have done together. But sometimes there are obstacles we can’t control. I should have told you about Grace. It’s not only her fault things fell apart. We all have apologies and faults. We all have done harmful things whether we knew it or not, but I ask you to not let this change the relationship you two have. I know that’s asking a lot, Hannah, but you’re just that great to accomplish fixing it all. Be the amazing, warm, energetic person that I know you are and promise me you’ll overcome this.
Keep In Touch. Always Yours, David
Two Months Later...
Holiday music and Christmas decorations fill O’Hare airport. The smell of sugar cookies and coffee. David occupies the second level. In his hand, a phone, on an empty messenger chat. he was waiting on a text, two actually; from both of them. David had set up a meet. Hannah and Grace didn’t keep that much in touch with each other. Through short messages over the months, he found this out. He gazes down to the main floor, hundreds of people rush the area. Buying food from side shops. Hurrying to flight doors, rolling luggage. Announcements boom the area. A text bloops:
Grace: I’m here, where are you?
He doesn’t text back, instead he watches an arrival entrance and spots Grace exit, she takes a seat at a coffee shop, taking out a laptop, on it is a banquet hall website. Named Y&B. A business idea she made into a reality. Warmth waters his heart at the sight of her. Still so gorgeous, so exciting and determined.
Hannah: Hi, I just landed. Are you on the main floor?
A little later, he discovers Hannah in the busy crowd of jolly people. She sits, not to far from Grace, across at a pizza shop. The girls don’t seem to know they’re in such close range. That’s how he wanted it. Them together in a sense. Both were so beautiful and so in love with him that they forgot themselves. If they saw each other now...he knew just by their body language that it’d be bad. Was it right or wrong for me to walk away?
He types but erases it. Hannah strolls down with a suitcase at her side. She’d move New York to stay with her mom and ended up snagging a teacher’s assistant job, a paraprofessional position. David could picture her enormous heart nurturing special children. It fits her well. Grace glances back in her direction. Did she see her old friend? If so, she didn’t care. Then again, there were so many heads bobbing around that it had to be impossible to spot a single person
David leaves to escalators, placing a hand on the machine banister. Then pauses. Even though it was months later, could he face them again? After everything? His shaking hands answered with, no. Two bloops emit from his phone:
Both: Where are you?
He closes his eyes. Why was I stopping? Pain strikes his chest, fear and uncertainty crush him. A dawning realization of this being the best way to last see them before moving on, registers. A plane ticket in his hands reads: Vegas. He sucks in a shuddering breath, watching the girls for a bit before heading away from the escalators to a boarding door. Seated on the aircraft, his fingers pinch at his eyes. The plane’s engine rumbles and lets out loud hisses. The city of Chicago gleams brightly from miles away. As he ventures away from two pulsing hearts, he couldn’t help but feel remorse, because for now it was...
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