It had been twenty-four years since she’d last seen it, but the place looked exactly the same. The lush green grass she used to run across as a child was still neatly mowed. The pine trees towered along the edge of the property, giving an enchanted feel to the air. The red roses she loved to pick and scatter still crept in-between the pines, weaving ropes of thorns and scarlet petals. The sky was bright blue, like the crashing waves she could hear in the distance. The air was mixed with tinges of pine and sea salt. Her heart started to hammer as she continued to walk down the pebble driveway. Her hands were wound tightly, nails digging into her palms as she grew more nervous.
The house still looked the same. A little faded and worn but still the tall two storey brick house she used to spend all her days in. The windows looked dark and empty. It didn’t look like anyone was home. The sun shone on the front deck, making the wood gleam golden in the light. She reminisced as she got closer, of her and Alex running around the wooden deck, playing hide and seek and trying to tackle each other over who ate the lost chocolate bar. The old rocking chair was still out on the deck. Her father always used to sit there or her beloved ginger cat, soaking up the sun and peace. She would often curl up by her father and read a battered book or insist on playing charades. Then she and Alex would sit on the deck and dream, about being older, being adults, about living and life while their faces dripped with sticky ice cream. She’d spent the first third of her life in this house, summers with her best friend, holidays with her mum and dad, and now after all these years it looked empty.
The few steps to the deck and front door made her stomach churn. For what, for if there was anybody behind the door. If they still knew of Alex and his family, of her, of what this place used to be. Of the happy days and endless summers before her family ripped her away to the otherwise of the world. No goodbyes, no last day at the summerhouse, they were just gone. Year by year had passed, it was too painful to try contact Alex. Her parents told her to forget, to forget her childhood best friend and first love but after all these years, she was still curious. Curious about what happened the house, to her second family, to what the last 24 years were like for him. She couldn’t forget him, no matter how hard she tried or far she travelled.
She took a deep breath and smoothed out her shirt, tucking back her hair and raising her hand to knock at the old oak door. The house sounded hollow as her knuckles rapped at the door. She shuffled her feet in agitation as she pulled back from the door. For a place so well kept, it looked empty. No cars up the drive, no murmurs of voices or animals, stillness and quiet in the air. She waited. And knocked again. Waited again. She couldn’t stand to be here and be locked outside of the door, her nerves got the best of her and she turned away, not wanting to try anymore. She tightened the strap of her bag over her shoulder and began to walk away, across the deck. It had been 24 years, she thought, she shouldn’t have expected anyone to be home, let alone anyone she knew. She was so in her head, deep in thought and worries that she didn’t hear the creaking of the door open. Or the patter of footsteps.
“Um, hello?” A husk male voice asked, “Can I help?”
She froze in her steps. Her eyes widened with surprise and shock at recognising that voice. Though it was deeper and older, more mature, it was still the voice of the boy she grew up with. She turned around and his sea green eyes bore into hers. A moment of silence passed as they both stared at each other in surprise.
“Rosie?” His voice dropped, “Rosie, is that you?”
24 years late, and they were no longer children. She looked at him. Taking in how he’d grew up from being that young gangly boy to a tall muscular man. His hair was still curly and the colour of caramel popcorn. His skin, golden as always unlike her pale white complexion. Her heart heaved in her chest as she stood their gobsmacked.
“Alex,” She breathed, “Hi.”
Alex seemed to have snapped out of his initial shock. He began to move, covering the ground of the deck quickly and scooping her into his arms. His face broke out into a smile, as did hers and they stood there locked in a tight embrace.
“Hi,” He murmured. Rosie curled into the crook of his body, “Hi,” She giggled.
“Took you long enough to come back,” He snickered into her ear, nuzzling his head into her neck. She huffed, indignant, “Yeah, put everything on me, gee thanks.” He chuckled and pulled back. His hands reached out and cupped her face, gazing at her like he’d never seen something this remarkable in his life.
“I can’t believe it,” He shook his head in disbelief, “I never expected to see you again.”
Her heart ached at the pain that flicked across his face. Rosie looped her arms back around his waist and sighed. “We’ve got a lot to catch up on,” She murmured into his chest. He tightened his arms around her, “That can wait.” She went to speak, to apologize, to blurt out anything but his fingers softly shushed her lips.
“Rosie, my Rosie,” He whispered, “You came back to me.” She sunk into him, relaxed at last. His heart beat against hers, and that was all that mattered.
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