The Space Between Us

02: Sorry It’s Been So Long

Amelia had no idea what to do next.

Her first thought was to jerk her arm out of Lionel’s grasp and walk away, overwhelmed by the memory of every unanswered text that she had sent to him, and the amount of her calls he’d ducked, but her feet wouldn’t cooperate. She hadn’t seen him since the morning of her wedding day. The last time that they had been in the same room, Lionel had smiled and told her how beautiful she had looked, and then he had disappeared, and Amelia hadn’t ever really known why. He had been distracted. Amelia could remember the way he’d reached up to smooth his tie more than once, and the hesitation he had had about meeting her eyes, but he had insisted that it was nothing, and she had taken his word for it, making his sudden departure from her life all the more painful.

Letting out a slightly shaky breath, Amelia gently tugged her sleeve out of Lionel’s grasp.

Lionel let his arm fall back to his side. “Hi” he breathed.

“Hi” Amelia’s voice was slightly wobbly.

For a moment, all Lionel could do was stare at her, waiting for her to say something else that would decide how their interaction progressed, but she didn’t. Instead, they stood and stared at one another for another long moment until he felt someone brush past him, causing him to look away, watching as Alexa stepped up to her sister’s side. “I thought you were getting out of here” she said.

Amelia’s eyes left Lionel’s, blinking a couple of times as she focused on her sister. “I was” she confirmed “I am” she added.

“Then get out of here” Alexa encouraged.

Amelia hesitated for a second, her eyes cautiously glancing back over at Lionel, before she nodded her head resolutely. She wasn’t ready to handle the situation between her and Lionel, and she knew that Alexa knew it too. She knew that her sister was trying to offer her an escape route. Flashing her sister a small, slightly uncertain smile, she turned and walked towards the exit.

Lionel watched her go before he cautiously glanced at Alexa, finding her watching him with an expression he couldn’t quite place. “Lexi...”

“Don’t talk to her” Alexa’s voice wasn’t sharp, but there was a tone in it that Lionel couldn’t quite place “Not now, not if you’ve not got a good explanation for what’s happened. She doesn’t need it. Just...just leave her alone, OK?” she added.

Lionel nodded his head wordlessly. He had questions. The look on Alexa’s face, as well as the strangeness of her voice, told him that there was more to her request that he leave Amelia alone than her being upset by what had happened between the two of them, but it also warned him against asking. He had no right to know. When he had walked away from Amelia, he had forfeited any rights he had to know what was happening in her life, and Alexa’s expression, as surprisingly gentle as it was, was a reminder of that.

When he nodded, Alexa’s lips quirked upwards ever so slightly into a rueful smile. “It’s good to see you, Leo” she said gently.

Lionel smiled back at her sadly. “You, too” he said “Sorry it’s been so long” he added.

Alexa gently squeezed his elbow before she walked back past him, leaving Lionel staring at the door that Amelia had stepped out of.

Placing her phone onto her nightstand, Amelia sunk down onto the side of the bed, her eyes squeezed closed as she tried to adjust to the overwhelming silence that filled her apartment. It bothered her more than she had ever admitted. The house she had shared with Fernando had never been quiet. Fernando was good at making noise. He had never managed to do anything quietly, and as much as Amelia had griped about it, now that he wasn’t there, making noise, she missed it. She missed listening to the sounds of him rummaging through the kitchen cupboards, or the sound of his off-key singing in the shower, but she knew that there was nothing she could do about it. She knew that there was no coming back from the damage that he’d done.

Rubbing her palms over her face, she let out a ragged sigh, frustrated with herself for getting lost in thoughts about Fernando again, before the low sound of vibrations against wood reached her ears, causing her to lower her hands and glance at her phone again. Reaching out, she picked the phone up and pressed the lock button, her stomach dropping at the text message that had appeared on the screen.

She knew who it was from. Even though the number it had been sent from wasn’t saved in her phone, the snippet of the content of the message that she had seen made it obvious, and it made her eyes sting a little. Fernando still texted. Every now and then, he still called, trying to coax her into a conversation, but Amelia never answered. The look on his face when she had asked him outright if what the other woman in their house had said was true had said everything.

Reaching a hand up to wipe her eyes, she swiped at the text from Fernando, deleting it before she put her phone back onto the end table. Pushing herself off of the side of bed, she padded into the bathroom and turned on the shower before she ducked back into the bedroom. Moving towards a dresser, she collected a pair of pyjamas before she heard her phone’s vibrations again. Throwing the pyjamas onto the bed, she sped towards the end table, desperate to turn the phone off and stop herself from thinking about everything that had happened for a brief moment, only to freeze when she illuminated the screen.

The text wasn’t from Fernando.

Sinking back onto to the side of the bed, Amelia stared at the message for a long moment before she unlocked the phone and typed out a reply, agreeing to Lionel’s request to talk.