Torn Between Two Ways

Much Love, Friendship, and XOs


That morning might very well have been one of the worst mornings of my life. My parents were dead. I’d broken my best friends’ hearts (breaking mine in the process.) I’d hurt the only person that came close to being my second mother. I was about to move away and start over with zero friends. At least my aunt was pretty cool.

The worst part was not the wordless breakfast or the cold silence I was getting from all of them. No. The worst part was when we were all waiting on the porch for my aunt to show up. It seemed to make everything seem so final. It was raining, and although the porch roof kept us from getting wet, it sure set the mood perfectly.

Correction: the worst part was when Aunt Carol actually showed up. At first, none of us moved. Then reluctantly, John picked up one of my suitcases, and Mikey picked up the other. Then we all walked out into the ice cold rain.

I watched as the two men I loved most in the world threw my bags into the back seat of the car. We all turned to look at each other.

I was grateful that it was raining. That way they couldn’t tell that I was crying, and I couldn’t tell if they were. Well, Mrs. Way definitely was. She was sobbing quite loudly.

I went to hug her first. She squeezed me so tightly it hurt, and I squeezed her back. “Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. I trust you more than any other adult in the world. I know this is a lovely way to thank you, but I have to go.”

“You’re really welcome,” she replied. Much more quietly so that her sons couldn’t hear, she added, “I know what happened, or at least I have a rough guess. I figured something like it was bound to happen eventually. Please stay in touch. You’re always welcome here, and what I say goes. Maybe you can come back some day.”

“I hope so,” I admitted, revealing more to her than I intended to. Then I let go and turned to John, who was next in line.

It seemed like he didn’t want to hug me, so I made the first move to embrace him. He seemed thankful, and it was a more intimate embrace than we probably appropriate in front of Mikey, but he would get his turn. This was my goodbye to one of my best friends.

“I’ll miss you,” I whimpered. “Don’t forget your promise.”

“I won’t,” he vowed strongly, “and I’ll miss you too.” He squeezed me and, where neither his mother nor his brother could see, kissed my cheek quickly.

Lastly was Mikey. He was eager to put his arms around me. “I love you, Anna. Remember that,” he murmured into my ear, his lips brushing my cheek.

“I will,” I promised. “I’m sorry. Remember that.”

“I won’t forget,” he said firmly. I wondered if he was trying to convince himself. “Not ever.”

Letting out my first real sob, I let him go. His hand lingered on mine for an extra second. Then it was over. “Goodbye,” I said hurriedly to all of them, afraid that if I didn’t get into the car I would change my mind. I turned on my heels and ran to the passenger’s door, opened, it, and jumped in.

“Ready?” Aunt Carol asked me with a worried expression on her face.

I nodded, freezing my face so it was as still as stone. I was hoping I could keep myself composed until I was alone again. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even make it to the end of the street before I broke down.

“Oh, Anna…” my aunt started apologetically. “If you loved them so much, why are you doing this?”

“They weren’t acting like brothers anymore,” was my muffled reply. “I have to.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not now.” It came out a little more irritably than I meant it to, but I didn’t apologize. I probably cried for most of the hour-long drive. When I was finally all cried out, I reached back, unzipped one of my suitcases, and pulled out my makeup and a little mirror so that I could fix it.

After fixing it, I was too lazy to unzip my whole suitcase, so I unzipped one of the side pockets. When I stuffed the makeup in it, my hand touched something smooth and stiff. It was a piece of paper.

I pulled it out quickly and unfolded it curiously. I never could have predicted what it really was, and my tears ruined my makeup all over again while I read it.

Dear Anna,
I don’t know when you’ll find this, but I hope it’s soon. No matter how long it’s been, I miss you already, and I still love you. I just wanted you to know that, if you want or need me, I’m only and hour away. An hour isn’t that long to someone who loves you. Even if you just need a friend, I would be glad to be that. If you need it, I will listen to you talk about how horrible your new English teacher is, how much you wish that girl in your new school would go live in a hole, or even about how cute that guy down your street is without complaint. If you need a shoulder to cry on, mine is always open. If you need someone to laugh with, I’m good for that too. Call me. If you don’t I’ll understand completely.
Much love, friendship, and XOs (whether you want them or not),

I saw my aunt eye the note suspiciously when I pulled out my cell phone. Not really wanting to explain myself, I handed it to her. She still gave my wet face a strange look.

I didn’t really want to do this in front of her, but I felt like it needed to be done at that moment.

“Anna?” Mikey answered so quickly I though he’d been holding his phone, waiting. What if I hadn’t found the note or hadn’t called him? How long would he have waited?”

“Are you alone?” I asked quickly.

“Yeah,” he replied, sounding tired and strained.

“Good, because even though you probably hate me by now, I needed to tell you that I loved you.”
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The last chapter! I'm so sad, but also so happy. Please comment and say what you thought! I left it off at a spot where you can all create what happens next in your imagination. Fun, right? :D