Like a Memory(7)

By: Abbi Glines

We’d spent a fucking summer together seven long years ago. Bliss was no longer that innocent girl I’d given her first kiss to. Not anymore. She was a grown ass woman. Preserved in my memory was a girl. Though that was definitely a woman in there.

Maybe that was what was so aggravating. I liked having her in my memory as that perfect girl to unveil and remember as unblemished. I wouldn’t have that to cherish anymore. She’d be in my world from day to day and I would see her imperfections. The young girl was gone and so was her sweet innocence. Life did that to everyone.

I’d kept myself from walking in there to remind her that her lunch was only an hour. That would make me look like a bastard. I had no reason to be. She had worked nonstop since I had arrived and she was due a fucking break.

“Did you get the rest of your things packed up? Are they ready to move this evening?” The guy asked with a casual familiarity that bothered the hell out of me. What the fuck was wrong with me?

“Yep. Momma cried while I was doing it. Just about killed me to hear it. I’ve heard her cry too much. It was the hardest part. She wasn’t sobbing, just tearing up. I let her hug me and tell me she loved me. That she wanted this for me. She was working through her emotions. She trusts you to take care of me. As if I needed any protection.”

Bliss sounded somewhere between annoyed and amused.

“She’s going to worry, B. You know that. Can’t expect her not to.”

Bliss sighed. “Yeah. I get it. I just wish we could move on from it. You know? Forget it. Try being normal.”

They were quiet for a moment while I tried to figure out what the hell that meant, trying “normal?” Why couldn’t Bliss try normal? From what I remembered she was very normal.

“It’s only been four years,” the guy responded. “She’s gonna need more time than that. That’s like a day to a mother, B. To her you’re still an infant. In many ways you’ve just been born.”

Again, Bliss sighed. “I know.”

Four years since what? What happened? I felt guilty for eavesdropping, but now I was curious. I wondered if Octavia knew what they were talking about. Not that I would ask her. It wasn’t my business. I shouldn’t have listened in.

I bumped into a broom backing away from the door. It hit a dustpan and both went to the floor with a crash. I winced and froze.

“What was that?” Eli asked.

“Octavia’s fiancé,” she replied. “Guess he must’ve dropped something.”

She didn’t call me by name or tell him anymore. Instead she started in on painting. The color her new bedroom would be in the apartment the two were sharing. She had a different bedroom than his? It made me question who he was. Were they intimate? Why the hell was I fixated on this?

I started to walk away and stop being nosey when she said his name out loud. Bliss said “Eli” and I knew who he was. She’d told me about “Eli” seven years ago. He wasn’t her boyfriend. He was her closest friend. I had been jealous until she explained it. They were much closer than any relationship I’d ever had with a girl in my life. Even Lila Kate. I soon learned that they were exactly what she said and Bliss York hadn’t been lying.

Just friends.

And they still were.

I left them to their conversation and went out the back door to my truck. I needed something to eat. An escape. To get the hell away from Bliss. I’d think it through then put it behind me.

I pressed Octavia’s number on my phone. Talking to her would remind me of the life I now lived. And why it fit me. Why Octavia fit me perfectly. And why Bliss York never would. That’s what I was telling myself. I didn’t know the woman Bliss York had become. I didn’t know anything about her at all.

“Hey, make it fast,” she said. “I’m getting off the plane in Milan. The buyer that took me to Rome convinced me I had to come here. Don’t have much time to talk.”

Octavia, she was all business. Straight and to the point. She wasn’t dramatic or needy. That was what every man needed. I’d seen enough drama from my sisters and even my mother at times. My dad had the patience of a saint. As for me, I didn’t. Drama and women were more than I could handle. Octavia didn’t inspire drama. She was too busy making her life appear perfect. I fit into her role and she fit into mine. It worked.

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