Tia sat on the park bench, swinging her legs back and forth. There was no certain rhythm, but it still soothed her. Her head swirled with every possible situation. She only came out of her trance when she sensed someone sitting next to her. Without her noticing, Michael had sat down.
“Hey, Tia. How’s your father this week?” Michael looked at Tia with a curious look.
Tia’s father had stopped choking her, but was still abusive (slapping and punching her) and didn’t come home some nights. Tia had finally convinced him to go to therapy once a month as well.
“Better. He has come home from work every night,” Tia replied.
“That’s good, I guess.”
“Yeah, but I have awful news.” Tia’s voice softened, and tears threatened to start pouring out of her eyes. Michael leaned over and wrapped his strong arms around her without knowing what she was going to say.
“Now my father is shipping me off to Episcopal High School. It’s a boarding school in Virginia. I’ll be gone until my senior year of high school is over. But then I’m sure he’ll ship me off to Timbuktu,” Tia choked. The tears didn’t stop this time--they came rolling down her face, and Tia dug her face deeper in Michael’s shoulder.
“It’ll be okay. I-I promise. You’ll be okay.” Michael was now silently crying, leaving a small wet spot on Tia’s white shirt.
“I d-don’t th-th-think s-so. I-I’ll probably f-f-fail.”
“No, you won’t. Because you’re the strongest person I know.”
Tia sat on the park bench, wringing her hands. A young man with blackish-brownish, curly hair sat next to her. He had his hands folded in his lap, and his bright blue eyes were darting from one spot to another. Tyler reached over slowly until his hand was touching Tia’s shoulder. He pulled her back and wrapped her in a hug. After all, he could tell when she was upset.
“I’m not ready. My father will be here any minute, and I haven’t seen or heard from him since, well, since the morning that I left for the airport to fly to Virginia. And now here I am, years later, back in my hometown, about to have a face-to-face conversation,” Tia worried. Her
breathing was starting to go faster, and every part of her body was starting to shake.
“Sh, sh. I will be right here with you the entire time. Don’t worry.”
A loud knock on the front door made Tia jump and spill some of the coffee she was pouring into a travel mug. The hot beverage started dripping down the counter. Tia rushed over to the other side of the kitchen and grabbed paper towels. She wiped it up quickly and threw the towels away before she regained her composure and walked to the front door. With a deep breath, Tia opened it to see Michael.
“Hey, Tia. I, uh, just came to say goodbye,” Michael greeted. He had a sheepish grin on his face, his hands constantly moving. Tia just stood there.
“Um, hi. Come on in. I have to leave in ten minutes, though. So this can’t take long.”
“It won’t. There’s just some… things that I need to figure out before you fly away like a bird,” Michael sighed. His eyebrows were drawn together--almost like he was solving a difficult math question. Tia led him into the dining room and they sat down across from each other.
“Again, you gotta make this quick. I have to get to the airport.”
Of course, this was a lie. Tia still had an entire hour until she even had to leave the house. But she still was doing her best to get Michael gone as fast as possible. The fact that she was even in the same room with him made her sweat.
“It will be.” Michael took a deep breath before continuing. “Tia, I love you. I always have. Ever since that day you showed me your bruises on that high school playground.
“The way you smile, it makes everyone feel better, even if it is their worst day. The way you take care of any animal, it makes me feel assured that you would always care about everyone. Heck, you would sacrifice your life for someone. A-and I know that you are the best person in the world. I know that I will never find someone as good as you again, so I hope that you’ll remember me when you come back. ‘Cause I know I won’t forget you.” Michael leaned over and kissed Tia on the cheek before standing up and walking out of the house. Tia sat there, speechless.
Little did either of them know that that would be the last time they would see each other ever again.
“Ty! Stop it! We’ve been together since our freshman year of school. Of course celebrate our anniversary! Some people are already married after how long we’ve been together!” Tia squealed. She was sitting on her bed, Tyler sitting at her desk.
“I’m just sayin’ that you’re only in college, and you’re celebrating anniversaries. Sarah and I don’t celebrate our anniversary.” Tyler crossed his arms and smirked. Tia just rolled her eyes and bounced once.
“Oh, yeah. Like that date in July wasn’t for your anniversary. Don’t lie!”
After that comment, the best friends busted out laughing so hard that they were shaking. Tia clutched her stomach as tears came out of her eyes and her laughing got even louder. Tyler was rolling around on the floor, laughing like a madman. Until they stopped abruptly.
“Tia! Come here, quick!” Joe (Tia’s father) shouted. His voice displayed worry clearly. Tyler and Tia got up and sprinted out to the kitchen, where Joe sat at the island. His face was pale, and Joe was shaking.
“Father? What’s wrong?” Tia walked over to him and placed her hand lightly on his arm. Tyler shuffled in front of them, confusion spreading across his face.
“Tia. It’s Michael. H-he, um… Tia, Michael’s gone. O-of his own a-accord,” Joe admitted. Tears silently rolled down Joe’s face. Tyler put his head down, closed his eyes, and clasped his hands together. Tia’s body shook uncontrollably as she fell down to the ground, tears gushing
out of her eyes like a river. Her heart pounded a million times faster than normal. A mix of screams and sobs escaped her mouth.
Her one true love was truly gone.