I glanced around. He still wasn’t back, so I wandered into the living room. I couldn’t bring myself to go upstairs yet. I knew too many memories would surface when I went to my old bedroom, but I took one step into the living room, and memories slammed into me anyway.
He hadn’t touched a thing.
I couldn’t believe it.
The couch hadn’t moved. The two blankets were still folded and perched on the ends. I remember putting them there. I was going to grab them when we left, but she told me not to. She said David would need extra blankets, so I left them. He hadn’t moved them. A box that I had packed was still in the corner. I hadn’t been looking at what I put in there, but she didn’t want it. It was filled with pictures albums, but Analise saw the wedding album on top. She wouldn’t listen when I explained mine were in there, too. That was another item left behind.
I didn’t turn the lights on. For some reason, I couldn’t fathom the idea of sitting there with bright light cast over this room.
His keys jingled together as he took them from the door and pushed it open, the screen door banging shut behind him. “Are you in here?”
I hadn’t heard him open the door. “I’m in here.” As I heard him come closer, I brushed the tear from my cheek and stood. I plastered on a bright smile and he paused, frowning at me. He was going to ask if I was okay. I couldn’t lie to him, so I pointed to the two pizza boxes tucked under his arm. “Were they closed?”
“The pizza. You went for noodles.”
“Oh.” He glanced down, as if remembering them. “Oh, uh. Yeah. No, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what you wanted so I got pizza. You used to like this, so I’m hoping you still do.”
My stomach growled at that moment.
His eyebrow lifted up. “I guess you do.”
The aroma had filled the room, and I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast with Malinda. “Pizza sounds great.”
He stared back at me.
Neither of us moved.
“OH. Um …” He glanced around. “I … we could sit.” His gaze lingered on the couch.
“I cleaned the kitchen. We can sit in there.”
“Okay.” He sounded relieved.
“That’s your routine, right? I don’t want to break you of any habits you picked up when …” When we left him. I flinched. When I left him.
“It doesn’t matter, Samantha. It was something I picked up, waiting if you came back and now,” he gestured to me, “we could go downstairs. That’s where we used to watch television. We could watch a movie.”
“You still have it hooked up downstairs?” A brief spark of hope flared in me. That was our thing. We watched movies together, and Analise stayed upstairs. She didn’t like the basement, said it was like a dark dungeon. It was our haven.
He nodded. “Yeah and you didn’t have to clean up. Thanks for that. I didn’t mean to run out and have you pick up after me.”
“It was no problem.” Where did I put my hands? I had no idea anymore. I crossed them over my chest, but that didn’t feel right. In my pockets? Would that be less awkward?
“Okay.” A grin teased at the corner of his mouth. “Why don’t you take the pizza down, and I’ll grab everything else. There should be pop and water downstairs, too.”
“I think I have chips, too. You still like Doritos?”
I nodded and headed for the basement door. Once it swung open and he headed to the kitchen, I stopped at the top of the stairs. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I needed one deep breath. Then I felt for the light switch and flicked it on. The stairwell lit up and a glimmer of home came back to me.
It was only a glimmer, but it was something.
Watching a movie with David wasn’t so bad after that. The awkwardness or tension had lifted, and it was our spot again. When we started the movie, I closed my eyes halfway through it. I could pretend for a moment. This was before the cheating. Before the divorce. I was transported back to the time before my world fell apart. Then I heard David laugh and turned to him. His eyes were sparkling. His paused with a handful of popcorn going to his mouth as he waited for the punch line in the movie. There it was. I heard the actor say it, and David roared with laughter. His head fell back and his hand waited in the air until he was done. Then he tossed the popcorn like nothing happened and went back to watching the movie.
I felt the tears coming.
This was it. This was the moment I had been craving since Analise took us away. Home. It wasn’t my old home. I knew that, but it was a new home. Mason and Logan would join this home and we’d be together. Everything would be fine. I knew it.
“Did you see that?” He laughed and pointed to the screen.
Yes. We put in the same movie we always used to watch. I had it memorized. So did he, but I laughed with him. It felt right to do so. We were still laughing about the same jokes when reality hit me. I remembered everything and stopped laughing. I stopped breathing.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. I just,” remembered that I didn’t have a mother, “realized that Mason never texted me back.”
“They have a game tonight? You didn’t want to go?”
Pointing to my face again, I grinned. “Look like the walking dead.”