*One month later*
Aidan, Luka, Colt, Grey, and I all stood side by side as we looked at the house in front of us.
The yellow paint was cracking and the white trim that encased every window seemed to be flaking off. It hadn’t changed in nine years.
The winter sun glinted off the undisturbed snow in the walkway showcasing how forgotten this place was now.
The five of us stood in front of the house that brought us all together in New Haven, Connecticut. What was once a vibrant home, full of love, and cozy memories had turned into a forgotten structure. It made me unbearably sad.
When Greyson first brought up the idea of us going back to our childhood home, I was nervous. I think we all were. At the same time, it felt like a necessary step for us. We couldn’t keep being afraid of our past.
Looking at it now a small part of me was happy that no one lived here anymore. “Should we go inside?“, I asked the guys.
Colt lead the way as we trudged up the snow-covered path.
The deck was rotted out in some spots and Aidan had to grab Luka’s arm when he almost fell through a weak spot in the wood. “You okay?“, he asked him.
Luka nodded. He had been noticeably quiet during the train ride up here and on the walk from the train station to the house. Even though Luka was a photographer and had an appreciation for meeting new people and seeing new places, he was a homebody at heart. I wondered if seeing this place again was going to be too much for him if the bad memory outweighed the good. He loved this place.
We all did.
Colt stepped inside and the interior didn’t look too much better than the outside. The wood floors were dirty and the walls were cracked with plaster scattered in piles along the floorboards.
“No one ever bought it again after what happened here”, Colt said quietly as we walked further into the house. “I did some research when we decided to come here. It’s just sat empty for nine years”.
We made our way into the kitchen and stopped. Looking around at the empty room a flood of memories washed over me. “Do you guys remember that time David tried to make sugar cookies with honey instead of sugar?“, I asked.
Aidan caught my eye as a smile slowly spread across his face. “And he added too much honey so the cookies turned out terrible. Maria ate like ten of them though just so he wouldn’t feel bad”.
As he finished speaking, I looked up and could almost imagine what this place looked like when we lived here. I could see Maria and David standing at the oven arguing over what to cook for dinner. I could see Luka and Greyson sitting at the kitchen island together trying to piece together an art project.
“We were so happy here”, I said as a few tears fell down my face. “It makes me sad that no one ever moved in after us. It was a beautiful home”.
The guys all nodded and I could tell they were doing the same thing I had just done. Letting their memories play out in their imaginations. Putting the picture of our home back together over the cracked foundation.
Greyson broke the silence. “Let’s buy it”.
We all looked at him to see if he was joking. “I’m serious”, he said. “It’s not like we don’t have the money for it. Let’s buy this place and fix it up into something we can call home someday”.
I wasn’t ready to leave New York and I don’t think the guys were either. But the thought of buying this place and restoring it... I loved that idea. “If we bought it, could we just keep it for a bit like a vacation home? I don’t think I’m ready to leave the city yet”.
“I’m not ready to leave yet either. We still have a lot of life to live in New York before we settle down like a bunch of old people”, Luka joked.
“We could use it a vacation home like Lark said until we wanted to move in full time”, Colt hedged. I was surprised he was on board with this but the hope that lit up his eyes was clear as day. “I’ll hire a cleaning service to maintain it as well or we can rent it out to people until we’re ready”.
The idea was turning around in my head. It no longer seemed so far-fetched. “We could put a darkroom in the basement for Luka’s photography”, I said.
“A library too for Greyson and Lark”, Aidan added.
“A garden outback for Colt”, Luka said.
“And an art studio for Aidan”, Colt finished.
We spent the rest of the time walking around the safe parts of the house, taking pictures, and making plans. By the time we decided to go, the sun had started to set during our walk back to the train station.
As we took our seats, the train was relatively empty, and we were able to snag a whole section just to ourselves. The guys started talking about their plans for the week, thoughts of the house being put on pause for now.
I looked at each of them. Colt, Aidan, Luka, and Grey.
Everything I had gone through seemed so small compared to what I had gained. Every second of pain and every moment of despair was worth it. I’d do it all again if it meant I’d find my way back to them again.
And back to myself.
So much of my life was still up in the air between my deal with Delgado and finishing school.
Even deciding what I wanted to major in was on my to-do list. But I didn’t care about the uncertainty. Not when I could look at them and see everything I had ever wanted staring back at me. Love, trust, respect, joy, safety. The rest of it I would figure out. We would figure it out together.
I let my head rest against the window as the fading orange and purple light from the sunset washed over me.
The truth is that even though I have no idea what my life is going to bring next, I know that I’m going to be okay. I know they are going to be right by my side as I figure it out.
I know that I’m going to be okay.
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