Welcome Home. – Chapter 3

Read Chapter 2 HERE

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The next morning Melanie wakes up to the sound of many voices in the house, and kitchen clanking.

She looks at her clock on her end table. 12:30 PM.

Wow, I seriously over slept, she thinks.

She grabs a towel and heads into her bathroom.

*********************************************************************************

Melanie walks downstairs to see a packed kitchen. Generations of women prepping for Thanksgiving dinner.

The rumble of the lawn mower outside, as her Dad landscapes.

“Hi Hunny, you’re finally up!” Grace, Melanie’s mother says her voice cheerful.

“Hi, Hi Aunt Rita, Aunt May,” she says coming over and kissing them each on the cheek.

“So good to see you sweetheart,” her aunt Rita says hugging her tightly.

Melanie’s eyes start to well up. Something about the hugs she receives from the people she knows love her have such an impact on her. The reverse effect of what she knows they actually intended- hugs are meant to be a comfort. For Melanie they feel like the passage of time, years she’ll never get back.

“Oh sweetie, is everything ok?” her mother asks, noticing her puffy eyes.

“I’m fine. I just- I really didn’t get much sleep last night. I’m sorry I wasn’t down earlier to help you all.”

“Don’t apologize there’s plenty left to do,” she says smiling and passing her an apron.

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Melanie stands in the kitchen and grabs a bottle of wine and a glass.

Noticing her dad Charlie smiles, “need a hand there hun?”

“Oh no, I’m good. These days, I’ve perfected how to pop a wine cork in 3 seconds flat.”

“Tough day?”

“Tough 5 years.” She says, raising a glass to her dad before taking a sip.

He looks on with a faint smile.

“Talk to me Mel Belle. Because kid, you gotta get it out at some point.”

“I just. I can’t shake this one dad. Skinning a knee, failing a test, struggling to find a steady job right out of college, all of that is a piece of cake. Because they had the rhyme of reason. But this, how do you explain this?”

“You can’t.”

“I’m getting really tired of people telling me that. You, mom, Oliver, my therapist.”

“So you are seeing a therapist?”

“I am. And she’s great, but every time I get some distance, some perspective, I come back here and I am just right back there.”

“So what’s the answer, you never wanna come home again? Is that the alternative?”

“Of course not. This is home, I love this town. Philly is all I’ve ever really truly known. But it’s been tainted.”

“Don’t let it be. You’ve grown up here your whole life. This rough patch your going through is no competition for the memories you hold in your heart. The good that you had here, let that outweigh the bad.”

Melanie smiles. Taking down another glass she pours some wine and hands her dad the glass.

“Cheers.”

She clinks her glass into his.

“Hey at least you’re sharing?”

“Small steps.”

Her dad smiles at her and pulls her into a side hug, kissing the top of her head.

“Oh kid, you’re gonna be ok. I’m sure of it.”

Melanie smiles smelling the warmth of her father’s known scent of cider wood and engine fuel.

“Let’s go eat, shall we?” Charlie says smiling down at her.

“Yes please!” Melanie says excitedly, as they walk off toward the dining room.

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“Mom that was the best Thanksgiving meal. Honestly I think it’s one for the books.”

“Well my daughter is home, I was motivated.” She says smiling as she and Melanie begin to clear the table off.

Melanie smiles brightly.

“Well I am stuffed…when’s dessert?” she says with a small laugh.

“Whenever you’re ready hunny, we’ve got all your favorites…Oh shoot but I did forget to pick up the extra honey maple syrup.”

“I can get it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yea no problem. I’ll be back,” she says kissing her mom’s cheek and walking off to grab her coat.

*******************************************************************************

Melanie walks into the neighborhood grocery store and makes  a beeline for the dessert aisle. She turns a corner and bumps into someone.

“Oh excuse me, I’m so sorry,” she says looking up, she sees Oliver peering down at her.

“Hey, Mel.”

“Oh. Hi. Um. I’m just here for honey maple syrup.”

“Grace’s sweet potato pie?”

Melanie nods, with a smile.

“Right. Well enjoy,” he says smiling and walking past her.

Melanie’s mind and heart screaming at her to call after him.

“Oliver?”

He stops, surprised and turns.

“Do you have a minute?”

“Sure.” He says nodding and putting his hands in his pockets, slightly nervous.

“Would you like to take a walk with me?”

“Of course,” he says with a hopeful smile.

“We should probably pay for these things though,” Melanie says with a small laugh.

“Right,” he says following her to the register.

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The night is lit up in twinkling lights as a peek of orange dresses every corner, Melanie and Oliver walk side by side. The silence building into an anxious cloud around them.

“Oliver.” “Melanie.” They both say in unison turning to each other. 

“You first.” Oliver says smiling.

“I just wanted to apologize for the way I acted the other night. I was so rude to you. That’s not how I wanted that to go, especially since it’s been so long. I guess I just wasn’t really quite ready to see you that soon after getting home.”

“I get it, Mel, really I do. Seeing you was kind of like getting hit by a ton of bricks for me too.”

“Really? Well I gotta say you hid it really well.”

“I try,” he says smiling.

“I know that you must have things you want to say to me. And I deserve them all. The way I left, the way I handled things. It was terrible. And I truly am sorry.”

“You broke my heart when you left. After everything we went through, all that pain, I didn’t think that I could ever hurt more, and then you were gone. I was a wreck, part of me still is. But I want you to know something I never blamed you. I understood you did the only thing you could. The only thing that felt right for you.”

“Regardless, I could have went about it differently.”

“I don’t think that you ever really had a plan. I don’t think you knew what you wanted or how to feel. You weren’t thinking at all, you were feeling and when the feelings got to be too overbearing you ran. I get it.”

“I just didn’t feel like me anymore. I was broken and I needed a change. It wasn’t you.”

“I did think you would always come back.”

“There were so many times when I wanted to pick up the phone to call you, or drive to see you. I would get as far as getting into my car and turning it on and backing out of my driveway.”

“So what stopped you?”

“It wasn’t fair to you. For me to jump back into your life. You seem like you’ve moved on. And Nancy seems wonderful. You look good together.”

“So you’ve been checking up on me, I see?” he says smirking, his eyes sparkling.

“Of course I have.” She smiles.

“It’s ok, I’ve been checking up on you too, more than I care to admit.”

Melanie smiles and looks away.

“As long as you’re happy, I’m happy for you.” Melanie says looking into the eyes of the boy she’s loved forever.

“It’s over with me and Nancy.”

“What? When…Wait why?”

“Why do you think?”

They exchange glances filled with a heavy history.

“The minute you walked back into town, it was over. She knows it. She knows that I’ve never gotten over you.”

Melanie looks up at him, her eyes welling up.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything. I just thought you should know.”

“Why are you being so nice to me? You should hate me, after everything I put you through. I mean I can’t imagine what you’ve been feeling all these years.”

“I don’t hate you. I could never hate you Mel.”

“A part of you must hate me, right?”

“Of course not.”

Melanie stares at the love of her past, in disbelief.

“Look, I’m not going to lie and say that it hasn’t been difficult. Losing you was always my worst fear and it finally came true. We both went through a really traumatizing time, and I needed you more than anything, but you needed to run…and that’s ok. I get that the weight of it all was harder on you, physically, mentally and emotionally. I felt like my heart was ripped out, but I wasn’t the one who had to physically deal with it. So once that was in perspective, it was pretty easy to understand why you ran. I forgave you a long time ago.”

“How…why? I was so selfish.”

“We lost our baby Melanie. That’s not something that you just get over, and how people deal with it…there’s no rule book.”

“But I know that I hurt you. I want you to know that I don’t…I don’t take that lightly. I didn’t intend to run. And even when I did leave, I didn’t expect it to be permanent. You have to know I never meant to hurt you.”

“I know that.”

Melanie sighs and looks away still unable to fathom his understanding. But then again, Oliver was always level headed and kind. He always looked for the good in people, even when they let him down.

Oliver looks at her and smiles simply.

“Mel. Hey, look at me. It’s all ok. We’re ok. I just, I’ve learned that you and I-we just love differently.”

“What…how so?”

“You don’t know what it means to love someone so completely, so unconditionally that no matter what they do, you’ll always love them and want them in your life. But it’s ok. You will. One day. “

Even though Melanie knew Oliver’s intentions were meant to be kind, hearing him say those words were kind of a blow to her heart.

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“I know that what we had was a long time ago….but I have never forgotten. I’ve never stopped loving you.”

Oliver’s eyes lock on hers, the stillness of the moment begins to threaten Melanie’s will to handle the intimacy.

He begins to lean in and Melanie takes a step back, putting her hand on his chest, to stop him from getting any closer.

“I should probably go. My family is expecting… their syrup.”

Oliver pulls back with a small understanding smile.

He gestures with his hands, a clear path for Melanie to walk.

Melanie smiles faintly and walks swiftly past him.

Oliver stares after her longingly, but shaking his head he lets out a laugh.

“One day,” he whispers to himself as he walks off.

 

To be continued…

 

* I do not take credit for any images used.*

-<3-

 

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