Like I Would


I’d driven around for nearly an hour and a half, needing to get over being angry at Jordan before even thinking about coming to see her. The last thing I needed or wanted was her sensing something was off and making a wrong assumption. She’d always been creepily accurate about guessing your emotions, regardless of how well you could hide them.

When I pulled up, it was like my heart stopped. The yard and house looked the exact same as they had seven or eight years ago, down to the rusted out old Ford parked beside the garage. It had been her dad’s ‘project’ since I’d known him, and for some reason almost remembered being told that it had belonged to Carly’s grandpa at some point. A rental car was parked out front, the one she must have taken from the airport, and it took all of the courage that I had in me to walk up to the front door and knock.

I almost hadn’t believed my eyes when she opened the door. Gone was the girl I knew years ago, and in her place was the woman she’d become. Jordan hadn’t been kidding when he’d said she was even prettier in person – the grainy video Natalie had showed us had distorted the elegance her features had gained. She’d become a whole new version of Carly, one that could stop you in your tracks and take your breath away, even more than she had when we were teens.

“So um, when is…”

“Tomorrow. Um, I know you’re probably busy but…”

“No, no I’ll be there,” I immediately knew she felt reservations about asking me to come to her father’s funeral, but I wouldn’t leave her alone through what would undoubtedly be one of the most difficult moments of her entire life. And besides that, her dad had been almost a second father – I couldn’t miss saying goodbye to him, even if I was too late to do it in person.

“Thanks Marc,” her whisper was hardly audible, and I knew she was trying so hard to pull herself together, even if she was struggling to do so. We sat in silence for a while, my arms tight around her as we sat on the couch we’d watched so many movies on, and slept through many more. I’d spent so much time in this house I knew it nearly as well as I knew my parents home. From the quick looks I had stolen, nothing had changed; the same pictures were on the walls – a few new ones in old frames – the furniture was the same, the rug was the same… it was sad but nostalgic all at once. As topsy-turvy as my world had become since last week, it was a glimmer of hope that some things remain stable.

“So, uh, you and Angie, huh?” she asked nearly an hour later, once we started actually talking again. It brought a lump into my throat; the last thing I wanted to talk about was Angie when I had Carly wrapped up in my arms.

“Yeah, uh,”

“Jared and Nat told me,” she quickly blurted, as if worried I thought she’d been following my life. Her cheeks heated up, and she watched the floor as she waited for me to speak.

“Yeah, Nat’s a chatterbox,” I allowed, getting a hint of a smile from her. “It’s just… some days it’s rough.”

Surprise marred both of our features as I realized what I had just said. I hadn’t really admitted my doubts to anybody; the fact she didn’t really seem interested in a wedding, and that she didn’t want kids… things that I desperately, desperately wanted.

“Are you guys okay?” Carly’s voice was hesitant, careful. She didn’t want to be nosey, and she approached things the same way she did in high school.

“It’s… yes but no. I mean, you know how we were in school,” I sighed, and she nodded, her nose scrunching slightly. She hadn’t cared much for Angie initially, but she’d warmed up to her a bit, decided and told me she approved, then turned me down and told me guys like me married girls like Angie. This seemed out of left field after all of that, until Eric’s words earlier today rang through my head.

Because it sounds to me a hell of a lot like she just told you that because she wanted what she thought was best for you. You don’t do something like that unless you love someone…

“Yeah, I remember. She did everything possible to try and cut me out of your life,” That was a shocking news flash. I almost got whiplash when I turned to look her straight on.

“She what?”

“Oh Marc, you’re just as clueless as ever,” Carly’s smile was soft, and dare I say even fond as she shook her head at me. “She was always trying to push me out, dangle your relationship in front of me as if that would somehow drive me away. She hated that we were so close; to her I was another girl in your life and she didn’t want to share you.”

“I’m so sorry… I had no idea…” I felt like a total ass. Had I known that, odds were I would’ve dumped Angie in a heartbeat.