After reading chapter three, this is the final chapter to the short story, "Apologies Not Given." A little longer than the previous chapters, the final chapter holds closure for both Vicki and Seth!
Awkwardly transitioning from another one of my failed attempts at witty banter, I told you all about my new life. New would be an overstatement: the life is completely the same, but the roles changed and now each one is filled with a person unfamiliar to you; although that's what you're comfortable with – unfamiliar. "Don't say that," I thought as I rambled on.
Taken by surprise, you asked to see a picture of Suzanne, and I quickly obliged. Your tiny mouth curled up on the left side, a smile I knew all too well. You were being polite – keeping comments to yourself as to not say something you may later regret.
You said nothing of Suzanne.
"Do you have children?"
"Not yet. I think, well I know, I want to have children soon."
Nodding, there was an unspoken, painful memory we knew we were both sharing at that moment. You had just gotten home from whatever hobby of the month you were participating in that night, and I was babysitting our neighbor's baby, Julia. You intently stared at me as you watched from the kitchen entryway as I fed Julia mashed bananas and cheerios.
The look on your face was one of annoyance and sadness when most women your age would've been delighted to see their partner enjoying and well-caring after a baby as thoughts of your own fertility created wishful scenarios in your head.
"No," was all you had to say.
Startled, I looked up, and asked, "Excuse me?"
"I will not have children."
I got up and followed you into the living room where you threw your ballet-slipper clad feet on the expensive white couch. "I guess that answers where you were," my mind spoke. Before I could hesitate, you calmly stated, "We don't have to talk about it. There's not much to discuss. I won't be having children." I would sacrifice anything if it meant watching your ballet slippers curl up under your, one of many, yellow blankets for the rest of our lives.
Bracing myself for the blow I knew was inevitable, I asked about your wife. My mouth spoke before my mind could warn it, and soon you were showing me a picture of a girl that looked like she was the complete opposite of me. Maybe you weren't able to ever look at someone who resembled me in the slightest because it hurt too much. Maybe you were eager to show me a picture of her to show that her hair was as light and innocent as she was to her life, while mine was as red and hot-tempered as I was. Or maybe you wanted to show me that her arms were planted around your waist more firmly than my feet ever were to this ground - still fresh with my footprints from my last run.
Shifting from my average life accomplishments and semi-permanent happiness, I wanted to hear your thick voice talk about yourself. I craved details of events I was left out on that I still dream of as years slip away just like you once did. When you spoke about the man you were moving in within downtown Chicago, fulfilling the only permanent dreams you ever let me know of, I felt sick. I wanted to run away, and pretend I never saw you standing in that too crowded line that seemed to disappear when I caught a glance of fiery hair and speckled freckles on a face that reminded me of happiness and a life I still pretended to live.
My face was red; I could feel it. Instantly, I regret coming here. Not just to the coffee shop, but this town. I could've chosen a different college, never introduced myself to the girl that had danger in her cold, yet inviting eyes, never moved to this town five years ago, and I wouldn't be finding myself sitting in this all of a sudden too closed in shop that smelled like a drink I was long over drinking because the taste had gotten old. Pain stabbed at me in a way I became immune to when it came to you. I was ready for a goodbye that offered no more future hellos.
Maybe the problem was that you never stopped looking for me long enough to let me find you. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't find someone else, and my God, I did. I found him. I found Scott because we were running from two different things in two different directions, crashing into each other. When we run, we run together.
Before your once familiar, too-forgotten lips graced my cheek with their final goodbye, I heard your last words whispered, sending shivers through my body as I watched you be the one to run first this time. My face was red; I could feel it. I'm glad I finally learned, too.