Saudade, noun, the feeling of intense longing for a person or place you love but is now lost, a haunting desire for what is gone.
I watched a movie once that said the easiest way to fall asleep was by trying your hardest not to, maybe it’s the same about love.
All that is on my mind at the moment is how heavy this box is, seeing that it has my name written across the top of it though I know better than to say a word, but at least it was the last box.
“Hello? I just grabbed the last box!”
I ask into what seems like an empty apartment, also setting the box against the wall with the others. I look at all of our stuff that we tried to put in the right places but eventually just started setting down to get everything inside quicker.
“Hello there beautiful.”
I hear behind me as arms wrap around my waist and lightly hold me, pulling me closer to a warm body. I smile at this voice I’ve been in love with for the past two years, the voice that is always so comforting to me. The man behind the voice is Alexander Brook, the love of my life. Alexander has almost full dark brown hair but the right front and right eyebrow are a white blonde, his eyes are a beautiful blue-green that have this light that shines so bright when he looks at me and his smile is my favorite thing to see every day.
We met a little more than two years ago, when we were both sixteen in a mall, he was coming out of a sports store while I was out with friends. I don’t want it to sound like a movie but it seemed that we both looked each other at just the right time. When our eyes met, it was a sense of calmness, all my worries and woes disappeared but only for a short while because I looked away and blushed. We didn’t get introduced until I went to throw my trash away and he was just getting his food.
He said without me even knowing he was there, making me jump a little. I turned around and saw that smile I didn’t yet know would be my favorite.
I replied and smiled as he took in my name like it was something foreign and beautiful. He stuck his hand out and I lightly shook it. He was wearing his basketball uniform and was lightly sweaty, probably from having a recent game. I was wearing a red t-shirt and jeans, it was an up step from my recent week of nothing but sweatpants and tears. I had a little makeup on my pale skin face, but nothing to make my dark blue eyes pop and my dirty blonde hair up in a messy bun.
“It’s nice to meet you Anna, I was wondering if I could have your number?”
I looked at him and part of me was wanting to say no because I’ve been very badly hurt recently and I really didn’t want to get back into something. On the other hand, something in my heart was tingling and something in my head was screaming yes.
“Yeah, umm let me see your phone.”
He gave it to me without hesitation, I typed my number in with my name and texted myself. I smiled and handed him his phone back, blushing some and showing him the text I got from his phone.
“Anna, come on let’s go!”
I heard my best friend Caitlin say from the table where we were just eating.
“I’ll text you later, okay?”
I turned and walk back to Caitlin, I waved bye while I pick up my bag of clothes I had just bought. I remember Caitlin giving me a look knowing something would happen between us but just letting it go and disappearing in the conversations we had on the way home.
“What are you thinking about?”
He asks while still wrapped around me, turning me and pushing some hair behind my ear.
“How it all started, us.”
He smiles at this and kisses my forehead before picking up the box I just set down and taking it to the room it belonged, I hear him open it and sign before starting to put all my things where they belong.
How did we get from the mall two years ago, to moving into an apartment together? Well that night he called me, we talked for hours and hours on end about everything you could imagine. We did that every night for two weeks straight before he asked me out the first time.
“I’m not ready, I was hurt really bad and I don’t want that to happen again.”
I felt so guilty telling him this because he cared so much about me already and I was just scared, I was terrified. But he was persistent and kept working to show me how great he was. Finally, on one cold night while we were on the phone, laughing the night away I finally decided it was time.
“I’ve been thinking about that question you keep asking me…”
“Yeah? Do you have an answer?”
“What is it?”
“That was it.”
I swear I could feel him smiling through the phone. After that he made sure to introduce me as his girlfriend for everything even though people already knew. He liked to say it and sometimes still will over use it, just simply because he can.
On our one year anniversary, he took me on the perfect date, or what we tried for it to be. He laid out big thick blankets and pillows in his back yard, his best friend stole some wine from his mother’s cabinet and there was chocolate. He didn’t invite me over until night because it was when we officially started dating and I love the moon, stars and everything in the night sky. He played my favorite music in a folder he had labeled ‘her songs’ that he only would play if we were fighting, I was in a bad mood or he was doing something sweet for me.
We laid on those blankets and took a sip of the wine before deciding it wasn’t even good and wasn’t for us. We laughed and talked like always, but then I heard our song starting to play and he stood up and held his hands out for me to grab.
“Come on, dance with me baby.”
He smiled that smile and started singing the words while he pulled me up. This was the first time we ever danced to our song, which I had just noticed. My head was on his shoulder while our bare feet were moving slowly on the damp grass, hearing the speaker softly along with him, underneath the moon and stars and everything just felt right. Then I felt a drop of water and looked at him, the next thing was us grabbing the blankets, speaker, wine, chocolate and running inside as the rain started pouring down on us.
Inside and soaked we just started laughing. I put the blankets and my dress in the drier, wearing one of his shirts and basketball shorts, and then walked into his room and sat on his bed. He was standing up and wouldn’t sit down near me, which was weird. I had never seen him like this, it worried me some. He walked over to me and got down on one knee, I felt my heart pounding and I know my face must have went paler than it already was because he smiled a little and kisses my hands.
“I’m not asking you to marry me princess.”
I can tell my face must have not changed much because he still seemed more in this mood I didn’t know, he rubbed my hands and smiled nervously and pulled something out from his pocket… a ring even though he just said he wasn’t proposing.
“Alexander, I don’t… I don’t understand.”
He looked into my eyes and looked down, his thinking look. He used it when he was about to say something important. I think he could hear my heart beating out of my chest because it was about to make me go deaf.
“I’m not asking you to marry me, yet. But I want to promise you that you are the one I want to marry, I want to promise that one day this ring will be an engagement ring, that one day you’ll be my wife. I love you and I want to spend that rest of my life with you. So, I’m asking will you make this promise with me?”
I looked into those breath-taking eyes of him and I saw that light that I loved so much, that light that showed me the endless love and care he had for me. I kissed him, I kissed him so hard.
“Yes, yes I promise baby.”
I didn’t even realize I had started crying until his hand were wiping them away and I saw some on his face as well, I wiped them away gently and kissed him again and again. Then he pulled away and slowly put the ring on my finger.
“It actually fits.”
I remember saying kind of confused because I don’t have the average finger, so how would he have guessed right.
“Last week when you went out with Caitlin I kind of asked her to find out for me.”
I gave him a look. She took me to the ring shop because she ‘wanted to know her ring size’ and she said I should figure out mine too.
I’m smiling hard while looking down at the ring on my finger, looking at the heart shaped stone on a sliver band that I loved so much. It is still a promise ring, we wanted to start our lives before we continued with our relationship in that way. I finished with the few kitchen boxes and decided to start on our bedroom, leaving him to do the living room with his games and movies. As I start hanging our clothes up I’m thinking of the other year up to now.
After our promise ring proposal, we only got better. We still fought and got jealous every now and then but we got better at working the problems out. We graduated from high school and decided we wanted to move in but both our families were a little worried. His parents agreed to let me stay with them for a few months so we could have a test trial and it was a little tough at first.
“Why have you been avoiding me so much, huh?”
He asked me while nonstop following me around for the past hour. I just wanted a few minutes to myself because we had been together all day and both were slightly starting to annoy the other over little things, like which city we would live in, whether or not I’d get another job and just anything else we could pick about.
I wasn’t stopping on the way to my room upstairs when he grabbed my arm but I pushed out of it and kept going. But like Alexander, he doesn’t stop until he has what he wants. I finally got to my room and tried to shut the door but he was right behind me. I just sat on my bed while he slowly closed the door. He just stood there staring at me, both of us not saying a word.
“You will not get two jobs, I don’t care if I have to get three but you will not get two.”
He said, even though I loved him for caring and worrying I felt so controlled in this moment. I had already given up my free time, my own house and was going to have to give up my job to move in the town that was just right for him.
“Anna, please say something.”
I looked at him with so much anger, even though I wasn’t very angry. I just wanted to be left alone, I just needed five minutes!
“Alexander please give me a few minutes alone.”
I knew he hated leaving in the middle of fighting, it was his weakness. I wasn’t using it against him I just wanted to be alone, I wanted to think about it by myself. He walked out of my room and shut the door, I laid there in my bed and waited for him to come back. I waited ten minutes, then thirty, then an hour and I hadn’t heard him even come near. I opened the door and slowly made my way downstairs to his room and I slowly opened the door where I could see his face as he tried to drown his thoughts in his game and music. I just looked at him and realized I wasn’t the only one who had given up stuff. He gave up his house by letting me come live in, even if it was just that he didn’t need to give up more because I knew he was willing to do things for me.
“I won’t take two jobs.”
He looked at me, not even knowing I was there and smiled a little. I walked over to him and kissed his cheek lightly before getting in his lap making him pause his game.
“Only on one condition.”
I smiled at him while he started shaking his head and gave me the ‘what’ look.
“Run me a nice bubble bath once a week and leave me alone for twenty minutes.”
He kissed me.
I still get my fifteen-minute bubble baths, so peaceful. We went through four more months of living together and saved up a lot more money. We finally decided to move just one town away so he could go to college, and our jobs were close enough. I was taking some classes online for now and would finish the others later. Last week we had our two-year anniversary and celebrated by deciding on a place and getting everything set up.
“I ordered a pizza.”
I hear come from the living room, knowing he was probably done now and hungry. This boy is always hungry but I’m a big food lover too so I can’t blame him. I pick up the box now full of empty boxes and bring it in there to put with the rest. We don’t have much to unpack in the end, we just brought some stuff a few days before to set up the big stuff and main areas.
“The bed is made, clothes are put away and all these boxes are empty.”
I kiss him as he stands there in the kitchen pouring us drinks. I turn and look around the apartment, looking at it all put together. It may be small and we may have to work our butts off to stay ahead but I know we can do it. We made it this far, we’ve went through everything and got to here. We did this.
I jump slightly at the sound of someone knocking on the door, Alexander walks past me grabbing his wallet from his pocket and talking to the pizza delivery man and then bringing it in and putting it on our counter.
After pizza and a few movies, we are off to bed. My body so tired from moving boxes and unpacking that I almost didn’t change for bed. But after I have I climb in bed with Alex and snuggle.
“Your hands are cold baby.”
He laughs and rubs them to try and warms them. We lay in bed kissing occasionally and talking about a few things we might want to do the next day. He is rubbing my hand and playing with my ring when he turns on his side to look at me.
“Let’s get married.”
Before he could say something else we hear our front door raddling, someone is trying to open the door. We both look at each other and he slowly gets out of bed walking slowly to the door. I grab something I think might hurt if you got hit with it over the head, but once we get to the door it wasn’t shaking anymore, but we can hear weeping on the other side. Alex slowly opens the door with me right behind him and we are both shocked.
“Oh my god are you okay?”
There is a little old woman on the outside of our apartment weeping, then she is looking up like she couldn’t believe her eyes. She isn’t looking at me but past me at Alexander. She starts standing up but with my help.
“Alexander? Oh my Alexander!”
I look at him and at her, both him looking as confused as I am. But then she looks at me and then down at her hands, being confused herself.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
She turns and grabs the railing and walks down the stairs. I look at Alexander, as he is trying to pull me back inside. But I move away and follow her, I want to make sure she is getting home okay. At least getting somewhere out of this cold.
As I get to the bottom of the stairs I see her trying to open the door to one of the lower apartments and talking to herself but I can’t make out what she is saying. I get to her door after she closes it but I can hear her talking from outside and she sounds so distort, so I knock. I knock a few times and wait. She comes and opens the door, just looking at me.
She keeps saying and then she just goes into the apartment leaving the door open, so I follow slowly. This woman is maybe in her seventies, she is just a little shorter than me, her eyes are a gray dark blue and her grey hair fallen around her face.
“It’s okay, do you want me to call someone? Or take you somewhere?”
She shakes her head and sit on this old rusted brown looking chair just playing with her hands, she looks so confused and I can see the tears streaming down her face.
“I don’t have anyone to call.”
She barely whispers to me. I decide not to push it, something in my heart telling me to just try and see if she is okay first. I sit across from her but can’t think of anything to say. I don’t know if I should take her somewhere or if I should do something. I don’t even know if this is actually her apartment, maybe she just got lucky and the door opened. I look around to see if maybe I can find out if it is her apartment or someone else’s. I only see one picture in the apartment and it’s of two people, my contacts or glasses aren’t on so I can’t make out their faces but I guess she notices me looking and grabs it.
“This is my Alexander and I when I was much younger.”
She looks at the picture smiling lightly before handing it to me. I look at the girl around my age and the man standing next to her, it looks almost exactly like Alex it was just difficult to see because the picture seems to be very old. She just sits there smiling at me while I look at the picture of them. Where is her Alexander? I look up at her and realize I haven’t introduced myself.
She looks at me with those sad eyes of hers, almost confused again like before. She looks down and thinks for a moment before introducing herself.
“I’m Sue, I’m very sorry about tonight. Can I get you something to drink?”
She asks in her sweet voice, a voice that sound comforting but I don’t know if or where I’d ever heard it from. I shake my head no lightly, handing her her picture back. She stands and walks into the kitchen slowly and glancing at herself in the mirror as she walks past it. I follow her making sure she can walk okay and trying to see if she is hurt anywhere.
“Sue, are you sure there isn’t anyone I can call?”
I ask again because leaving now just doesn’t seem right. She shakes her head no and gets out an old china tea cup, then putting some water on the stove. I sit at her counter top watching and looking around. Her apartment seems about the same size as ours but with everything in here it seems much smaller. There are boxes on boxes, there is walls of books and papers everywhere. Some of the ones on the floor I saw earlier looked like they were written in letter form. Who could she be writing to that isn’t available for me to call? I turn, just watching her now and seeing her hands lightly shake. I can sense she is holding something painful in because my hands shake the same when I’m really upset. It only has happened a few times though.
Once before Alexander and I moved in together, before even our one year anniversary and our promise ring, I found him talking to another girl. Not just causal friend, but flirting lightly and agreeing to go over to her house. I remember sitting there on his bed, holding his phone with just tears pushing at my eyes but I wouldn’t let them fall. If we were going to break up I was going to be strong about it, I wasn’t going to cry in front of him. He walked in and I knew he knew something was wrong.
“Baby? What is it?”
I looked at him and just shook my head. What was I supposed to say to him? Did I want to end this relationship right now? Could this be worked out? While all these thoughts trailed through my mind I hadn’t noticed him getting so close to me, he grabbed my hands and held them trying to make them stop shaking. It wasn’t working. The pain I felt in my chest was unbearable, it just felt like some cut open my chest and scrapped everything they could out and filled it with air. I felt a single tear stream down my face, so I stood up and set his phone on the bed and it went off again. Blinking her name with a ‘what are you doing cutie?’ texting popping up with the others. He saw it and just started at it. He didn’t look at me, but he still tried to hold my hands. I snatched them away and moved a step away even though it felt like ten.
“Don’t touch me, don’t…”
I said as I couldn’t even look at him, I didn’t want to see him. I knew he was probably crying or getting close to it and that there was my weakness. But not this time.
“Why? What am I not giving you?”
I asked so painfully I knew he felt the stab in his heart. He knew this would be the end. He got up from his knees on the floor and sat on the bed, putting his head in his hands. Not saying a word, just breathing slowly, like the wind had been knocked out of him. I wanted answers but I needed space.
“As of right now…”
I tried so hard to get the words out without cracking, trying so hard to pretend like it didn’t affect me, like this was just another day and he was another guy. It was so hard, so hard to be in the room where the person with your heart sat, telling him that he couldn’t have it anymore. Telling him that you didn’t want to be together even though your mind and soul needed him. He had your missing pieces and you were going to leave incomplete. But I was also in the room with someone who was being dishonest to me, someone who was considering another woman and someone who knew what they meant to you and who they’d presented themselves to be and were going to throw it away. That person didn’t care for me, right? That person didn’t love me. That is what was going throw my head as I was trying to make the words escape my mouth, I just wanted them out but I also just wanted to be held by my best friend, by the love of my life. Even though it was hard, even though my voice cracked, I had to do it. I had to make a choice of standing up for myself and this relationship or feeling the arms I loved being wrapped in, so I did.
“We aren’t together anymore, not until you can answer that and prove to me this won’t happen again. Not until you grow up into the man you presented yourself to be.”
I left after saying that, we didn’t talk for three whole days. Or more like I didn’t answer him for three whole days, until he showed up to my house. I didn’t tell anyone because I was hoping we could fix it, hoping he could prove to me it wouldn’t happen. I let him in my house that day and we talked through everything. Even though things weren’t close to the same for a month or two after, we fixed it.
I look at Sue, in her homeliness sense and style. I wonder about what is going on in her mind to where she is holding it in. Maybe it’s because a strange random girl from upstairs followed her into her house, or maybe because she is in pain from something else. What is a little old woman doing alone in an apartment? With no one who can be contacted if something happens to her? I almost can feel tears wanting to form, thinking about what if this is myself or maybe my mother. I would want someone to be here for her if I couldn’t be.
“Can I at least take you to the hospital Sue?”
I ask her when she finishes making her tea. She kind of shrugs and give me a ‘why’ look, as if she wasn’t just at my door a little while ago crying. She sets her cup of tea down and disappears into a back room and I hear a few doors opening and closing before I see her some out with some shoes and a jacket. She sighs as if she already knows what is going to happen, maybe this happens a lot for her. I wonder if she’s mistaken someone else before.
Alexander drive us there, after I went upstairs and got dressed and making him come along. Sue and I get out while he parks the car and we walk in, I can tell she is nervous so I grab her hand lightly and smile, rubbing it the way Alex does for me and it actually seems to work as her breathing comes to a normal rate.
“Hello, I was wondering if I could have a doctor do a checkup?”
I talk to the nurses at the front desk with Sue right beside me, I don’t mention how we actually met because I don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. We somehow convince them to do one really quick so that we can go home. I don’t like being in hospitals but I’m doing this for Sue, to make sure she’s fine. She is still holding my hand as we are pulled back into an area for the doctor to see her.
“Hello Sue, I haven’t seen you in a while.”
He says right as he walks in with a clipboard, smiling that annoying doctor smile. He looks at me and gives me this look like he knows what has happened.
“Who is this Sue?”
She looks at me kind of worried before turning back to him like he’d know.
“I’m her granddaughter.”
I smile that annoying smile back at him and I continue to rub her hands so she would know I wasn’t going anywhere. He looks at us, slightly annoyed and writes some stuff down before starting her checkup.
“We can keep her over-night if you want us to?”
The doctor says after pulling me away from her, but I made sure Alex was still with her.
“No, it’s fine, I’d like to take my grandma home.”
I try to smile convincingly but I know he isn’t buying it.
“This isn’t her first time in here, this happens every few months. I know she has no other family, no one to contact.”
He looks at her and then back at me with some sad eyes.
“She’s been through some hard stuff and I’ve tried to get her into a home, if she comes in here one more time I have no other option.”
I am barely listening to him, I’m looking at Sue. What has this poor woman been through? I look at him and nod my head before walking over to her and helping her off the table.
“Let’s get you home Sue.”
I don’t know what I am getting myself into but I knew I’m going to do everything in my power to keep this woman for going to a home. He said she’d been through a lot, how could you just try to dispose of someone who you know is only is way from hurt.
Alexander is looking at me worried, he is holding the door open to the car. I still have to deal with what he brought up earlier this night. I get in the car and we head back home. This is just our first day living together on our own, becoming us and maybe this will somehow make us a better us. I look in the mirror back at Sue and see her watching every move Alex makes, maybe we can be her contacts, maybe we can be her family.