Annie - Vanessa Carlton
Breakeven - The Script
We were supposed to have gone out tonight. I was going to take her on a walk through the city as the sun set. I was going to take her to that little café that she loved so much. I was going to ask her about Rose and their latest adventures. There were so many things that I had planned without much thought on what would be happening instead. From the very beginning, I should have been able to see that these things never work out, when two people are so very different in essence, when two people are supposed to go on so completely different paths.
Neither of us were the average young women walking about the streets of England. And I knew that.
I had seen him once or twice before I had even met Annette, but never taken much notice of him, never noted him as an important factor in what I was seeing altogether. And now, every time that I saw him, it was as though he were a bleeding stain on the final page of a thick and final chapter. I would never be able to read the end, never skip ahead, but I knew how it would end nonetheless, intuitively. Annette would meet him in some years and they would fall in love. And I would travel the airways of time, forever traversing reality from a bystanders point of view, as I has known from the beginning.
I’ll never know why I allowed myself to be foolish enough to think otherwise.
A smile smoothed over my features as I approached the bench beside the now empty street.
It was already dark and I was late but Annette had waited there. She had waited a good hour for what? For a woman that had already told her many times that she might not be returning one day, that had tried to warn her of what would come… The smile was tinged with the faintest hints of a hidden sorrow. Tonight would be the first night in years that I would weep wholly for sadness and fear. It had taken Annette to realize that I was going nowhere, to remind me that I had no place either here nor there. I was a ghost without a house to haunt, only hearts.
The lone figure flinched as the streetlight over her switched on. As she did so, her hair swept from her eyes and she saw me standing there in front of her. Something in those impossibly blue eyes caught flame and a smile ten times more a smile than my own bloomed on her face. My chest fluttered weakly as if some bird with broken wings were trying to break free of it. I apologized in a soft voice but no matter how softly I spoke, I could feel the tenderness of the air, could feel myself pulling away already.
“I wasn’t sure what to think,” Annette admitted weakly.
I sat beside her, looking ahead of us at the shadows licking along the edges of buildings.
She watched me, checking my expression, then scooted closer in one small movement, slipping her arm beneath mine and folding her fingers over my chilled hand. I wasn’t wearing weather-practical clothing and my joints were stinging for it but with that touch, I warmed--and I felt the sand of a white beach beneath my feet, hours behind this place we were in now, the sun still high in the sky, warming my pale skin.
I shook away that place, willing myself to remain on that bench. My throat suddenly seemed swollen to me. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move. I could only listen to a barely audible sigh tumble from my beloved’s rosy lips. Dearest, don’t be upset, I begged her in silence.
“Is everything alright, Rune?” I knew that she knew what was coming. I wished she didn’t; I wished she was wrong.
“Do you remember when I told you about that woman? The witch that died in the trials?”
“Yes,” she nodded. Her lips were chapped, I noticed, as I looked her over, trying to soak up every detail that I could.
“She had no family, she was alone in the world, right?”
Annette looked as though she wanted to say something to me but something also sealed her lips, bade her to listen.
“I can’t remember the story anymore. I used to be able to remember it word for word, but that’s all I know now.”
She waited for me to continue. When I didn’t, she posed, “Do you want me to tell you?”
I began to say yes, but then my voice betrayed me, “No, I don’t want to know.”
We sat in silence for a long moment. Annette looked away this time.
“I love you, Annette,” I spoke and as if on cue, snow began to float down from the skies, cast orange by the light behind us. It had already been snowing in short burst and flurries but this would signal the beginning of a heavy storm that would trap children in their houses and adults from their cars for a good couple of days. A homeless man would be found just east of the main bridge over the river, riddled with severe cases of frost bite.
No one knew that but myself yet, of course.
She looked as if she had been struck at first, then her eyes cast upward, watching a single flake land on my knee. Something within her found peace as she responded to me, “Do you remember telling me the weight of those words?”
“No,” I choked. I couldn’t remember much of anything that I had done in this life anymore. I was already a step gone.
“You told me that ‘I love you’ is only another way of saying goodbye,” she screwed her eyes shut. Was she going to cry? “But it’s a stronger kind of goodbye, more final, because when you truly love someone, there’s a promise in everything that you say.” I still couldn’t remember telling her that. But a cord of my heart sang with it and I knew that I believed that statement more than I did that snow was falling.
But snow wasn’t falling; I was on a sandy beach and my cheeks were burning from the exposure.
I shook away the image of that place, urging myself to feel the cold of the bench, to feel her hand over mine. I laced my bare fingers with her gloved ones, shivering. My breathe hung in front of me in a small cloud then dissipated. I focused on it, staring down the frozen trees and other unremarkable vegetation, trying to ground myself to the spot where I sat.
“I love you too, Rune.” That was it. That was the last thing that I heard before I began to fade.
I turned to her, tears in my eyes, the colors of the world awash with white now. I could feel my core slipping and pulling away from here and I could no longer feel the cold of the winter. I tried to respond to her, tried to hold on, tried to stay there so I could take her on that walk, so I could buy her a cup of tea. I took her by the shoulders and hugged her to my chest, desperate to feel her but it was impossible. My words were drowned in silence like a whisper amongst music in an opera house. My ears rang with my cries, hummed with quiet. I pressed my lips to hers but it was like I was grasping air.
No, no, no, please, just let me… Please, see me.
When I opened my eyes, the sun was setting. I stood, brushing the sand off of my coat and pants, withdrawing from the water’s edge. I hooked my bag onto my shoulder and slipped on my sandals. My gaze drifted toward the distant parking lot and the Italian ice kiosk. That reminded me, there was a new café that opened yesterday in town.
Question of the Day: Who do you think you were in a past life / you‘ll be in a future life?