I have decided to briefly return from my hiatus because I finally finished The Night Before two days ago. This was supposed to be a 6-8 page project and ended up being much, MUCH longer. Scarlett had a lot to say about Ava, and after reading both sides, I’m not sure whose side I’m on.
I have decided that I will post the first section, the actual night before and the short epilogue.
Winking was dangerous.
In my case it led to a bunch of unwanted feelings towards a girl who clearly did not feel the same way I felt about her.
For months I had been at Ava’s door with the simplest phone call. Waiting on her call every night, to experience a few hours of pure bliss before waking up the next morning and watching her tear herself apart for the guilt she felt.
Guilt for what, I wasn’t sure. After all she was the one who winked at me. She burst into my little coffee shop with one of my regulars, Jeff. The first words I ever heard from her mouth were complaints about his desire to spend all his time in “this quaint little coffee shop.”
She ordered a tea and admitted that she hated the taste of coffee; ironically, something we had in common.
That was the first time she stepped foot in the store, but she continued to visit every Wednesday until I had her order memorized and knew all her habits.
Like the way she buried her face into her scarf when she was cold. Or how she crinkled her nose when she saw or heard something she didn’t like. She wore sunglasses all the time, but they were always pushed up on her forehead. She told me that at one point she used them to shut herself away from everyone’s eyes, but now she likes to see more openly.
She loved chocolate chip cookies. She bought one when she came in and two on her way out.
She wasn’t dating anyone, but she missed being intimate. She didn’t want another relationship though- all guys were jerks.
Then she winked at me.
I tried to pretend it didn’t happen. I couldn’t hit on straight girls, it only led to heartache.
Boy, was I right.
My twenty-fifth birthday was a couple days later. I had texted Ava to remind her. I still didn’t want what we had to be over.
She told me she’d make it, so long as her stomach stayed steady.
I smiled and tried not to think of how I’d feel if she didn’t show up.
My apartment felt crowded, but I loved it. There was something welcoming about your closest friends all being together in the same room. There were games and food. There was drinking and laughing. I kept one ear on the door at all times, waiting for Ava to walk through it and curl up beside me.
The buzzer did go off at one point, and I swear I practically flew over. My best friend laughed and made some sarcastic comment I didn’t quite hear. I tried not to let the disappointment show when I realized it was just Johnny’s pizza he had ordered.
“Cheer up, Scarlett! I got your favourite!”
The rest of the night was a whirlwind. I tried to have a good time, and succeeded to an extent.
Sometime around 2am, everyone started to call cabs and leave. I thanked them all for such a great time, and hugged them on their way out.
Ten minutes later I was in a cab heading for Ava’s house.
She buzzed me in after I threatened to climb up the fire escape.
“I’ve climbed down it Ava, I sure as hell can climb up!”
She opened the door and let me in, not bothering to look at me until she sat down on the couch.
“The roommates?” I asked.
“Out,” she mumbled.
“Good. Are you sick?”
“No,” she shook her head, “Happy birthday, by the way.”
“Really? Because that was yesterday. I had a party, you were invited, remember?” I snapped.
“What the hell, Ava? We didn’t have to do anything. I just wanted you to come hang out with me and my friends.”
“I know,” she whispered then looked up at me with her big dark eyes, and I knew something bad was going to happen.
“Maybe I wanted you all to myself,” she purred, and then I was being pulled down to meet her on the couch. Her lips were on mine and she didn’t let me pull away.
With that one move she took my heart from where I stood, offering it. She gave me hope that things would change between us. I was happy, and didn’t see her toss my heart over her shoulder.
The morning after all…that, I gave Ava a choice. Everything clicked that morning as I watched her struggle with her guilt once again.
She didn’t love me.
She loved me at night, but I would never be able to wake up to her happy. She would always be wrestling with herself.
Maybe I loved her enough to back away- to remove myself from the equation so she could be happy again. Or maybe I was tired of waking up feeling like I wasn’t good enough for her. Maybe I was tired of constantly being hurt.
Our “breakup”- if you can call it that- couldn’t have come at a better time. About a few weeks later there was a job opening as store manager at a coffee shop a few towns over. I wanted change. I needed change. I jumped at the opportunity and moved away; never looking back.
There was one night, a little while ago. Ava called me in the middle of the night. I thought about picking it up. It still would have been easy enough to run back to her. There’s was a part of me that still loved her and always will.
I let it go to voicemail.
I listened to it once. She was drunk and her slur was almost impossible to understand.
“I know you said not to call you. I know you said you didn’t want to be my booty call anymore, but I think I lov-”
I deleted it without hearing the end. I couldn’t put myself through that again.