I Almost Do

‘And I hope you know that/Every time I don’t/I almost do’

You left me. Here one day, gone the next. I knew you would leave one day, but I wished it weren’t so soon. But you did. After you left I was left alone, broken, shattered into pieces just lying silently on the ground. Time passed and I gradually picked up those pieces, but you hurt me so bad, so deep I couldn’t take another chance. I didn’t want to feel broken again. So just remember this, every time I don’t, I almost do.

So here, the tragic tale of Isabelle Williams and Cameron Richards. Their story might seem lost and broken to the bits, but after all, life was built to have mistakes made out of. Its seems we all make them, but the thing is, we learn and fix our mistakes and forgive other people for theirs. But before that, you need learn to take risks, even after the mistake, even after the worst, even after you are hurt. You need to take a chance. And that my friend, is what Isabelle did not do.

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2. ⓣⓦⓞ

Chapter two

I gaze out the window and watch the snowflakes drift downwards as they either melt on the window pane or fly away behind the moving car. Cars zoom past, sending a few flakes spinning. I sigh, breath fogging up the cold glass. My mother hums to the pop song on the radio, bobbing her head up and down in the seat beside me while Amelia, my 11 year-old sister sitting at the back, belts the lyrics out at the top of her lungs and dances in her seat (mostly with her hands) enthusiastically nodding her head along. My mother had finally found a way to convince me to leave the house after three long days, using bribery, might I add. A promise to buy me the latest Ed Sheeran album was all it took for me to throw on my coat and lace up my boots, rushing to the door in my excitement to leave for the mall.

 

The winter weather was harsh and the day had been one of the best so cars were out and about, making use of the open stores while they could. Our vehicle pulled up at the almost-full car park of the Target department store and I was almost jumping in the haste to go in and make that CD mine. We entered the sliding doors, instantly warmed up by the heaters of the store as Mum immediately walked away muttering something about a dodgy coffee machine and Amelia instantly started to run towards the doll section shouting something about a Harry Styles. I, being the only probable sane person in my family, played casual as I power-walked over towards the CD section and started to flip through the huge array of albums. Orange, orange, orange, where is it?

 

Tapping a young looking worker on the shoulder, I asked, “excuse me, do you happen to have ‘Plus’ by Ed Sheeran in stock?”

 

“They ran out last week and shipping is late because of the horrible weather,” the girl said cheerily. “But we do have the latest One Direction album here, and Justin Bieber there, and Adele right over there!” she said pointing at each self dedicated to the different albums. “If you need any help, just ask!” She said with a fake grin plastered on her face.

 

“Erm, okay, thanks.”

 

So, I had left my perfectly comfortable bed to find this? Three days had been spent wallowing in my thoughts, and then interrupted by hope of the Ed Sheeran album. But no, fate just had to screw that up too. Absolutely perfect, I thought. I guess it wasn’t that bad as I had the full album on my iPod, but having in hardcopy would be so much better. Not that I would know though, I didn’t have a single album (if you didn’t count the ‘my little pony’ sound track from when I was six) but I owned a particularly large iTunes library.

 

With a huff I continued flipping through, mumbling profanities and cursing Target, my soggy boots, the bad weather- anything really. I was that upset. A familiar album caught my eye, Fearless. Taylor Swift was the complete queen of breakup songs; she had written countless songs that many broken-hearted could personally relate to. But that wasn’t the reason.

 

Taylor Swift had written our song- the song that I was listening to when we had first met, the song we had first danced to, the song that was playing when we first kissed. The tune rung through my head, echoing like church bells, you are the best thing, that's ever been mine. It brought me back to the days, the days of constant laughter and smiles and chatter.

 

As soon as the memories arrived, I forced them to leave in a flash. I reminded myself I was better now that you left me for good. I reminded myself that I was mature, that I wasn't the naive little girl who used to wear sundresses and bright flowers in my hair. I was Isabelle, not the girl you left that day, a new one now, a strong one. But somewhere deep inside, I wanted it, I wanted it all back. I wanted to go back in time, i wanted to change your mind, i wanted to be freed from the jail cell of being alone, from being away from you. I wanted to feel safe. And the only place that could make me feel that way, was with you.

 

“Ahh, so you like Taylor Swift?” the same worker asked from a few shelves behind where she was stacking DVDs. I whipped my head around completely bewildered that she had been standing close by and possibly staring at me for the past ten minutes.“Well her new album ‘Red’ is right there,” she continued, not giving me time to answer her question. I followed her pointed finger and turned to face the large shelf covered with posters and merchandise, the albums squeezed side-by-side in every slot available. I gave the lady a brief nod as she grinned as if she was a little kid and I had given her a lolly store.

 

Feeling the girl’s gaze on me, I felt myself take slow steps towards the bright red rows of CDs, pick out one and flipping it over to read the back. It wasn’t like I was getting ‘+’ that day so, why not?

 

--

 

As soon as the engine of the car slowed to a halt I jumped out of the car so fast it was as if I was being chased by a bear… or in this case, a Harry Styles Doll. It was partially my eagerness to exit the car which heaters had somehow stopped in the middle of the trip home, leaving us freezing, and partially to leave Amelia’s constant ranting about pigeons, carrots and spoons. I kicked off my UGG boots and bolted up the staircase impatient to get to my bedroom aka my safe haven. I tugged the dusty and ghastly bright pink colored Barbie CD player out from underneath my bed. I coughed loudly from the excess dust atop the player and unwrapped the newly bought CD. I inserted the disc into the player, remembering the last time I had used the ancient CD player was back in first grade. I had been practising for my class’ production for ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and had unwillingly been chosen to play the scarecrow.

 

Let’s just say the performance that night did not go very well.

 

I propped the player on top of my dressing table and made my way to the laptop nestled on my bed sheets. The intro of ‘State of Grace’ started to play.

 

‘I'm walking fast through the traffic lights/Busy streets and busy lives’

 

I had to admit, I didn’t regret buying the album as much as I thought I would. Well, until track 7 played.

 

I remember I was reading my English book, To Kill a Mockingbird, well trying to since I was pretty distracted by the lyrics of the song. I had unknowingly reread the same sentence a couple of times before giving up and slamming the book shut. The words sung echoed through my mind and seemed to ricochet off the walls of my bedroom. The walls seemed to be inching closer and closer as each second passed.

 

What the hell Isa, they’re just words, I thought. Words, just words. But I couldn’t think straight. Sure they were words, but they may as well have been words that spoke my life story. Well not so much my life story, more our love story. Now I was quoting Taylor Swift song titles, I thought, mentally rolling my eyes, and in my mind too.

 

‘And every time I don’t, I almost do.’

 

I almost do but why don’t I?

 

--

 

Each time, when I finally resolved to writing to you, I used our old purple biro. Remember it? We got it free from that crappy restaurant downtown, the one that sold burnt dumplings and cherry flavoured milkshakes. Whenever I believed I was going to write to you, it was the pen I picked up. It was the only time I ever used it. And each time I held that old purple biro the words I had so perfectly planned out in my mind, would not flow out and my fingers would start trembling, not even making it to your name after the ‘Dear’.

 

After finally completing the writing on the wrapping of the neat brown package slip I, at last, got to writing the actual letter. This, obviously, took awhile too. After filling the waste bin with crumpled balls of paper, with an occasional ball spilling over the sides, I was happy. Well, not necessarily happy, just okay with what I had written with that purple biro that held so much of what I wanted to say, but would never be written or read by you. And that was okay to me to,so the note was then tucked deep inside the parcel.

 

From my drawer I took a random animal themed stamp and slapped it onto the brown papered package. The stamp hung lopsided over your name, your address, your city- now different from mine.

 

I ran down the stairs to meet a surprised looking mother chewing on some chocolaty midnight snack coming up the narrow stairway. After snatching and skimming through the name on which the parcel was for she took it kindly, and said that she would send it off as soon as she left for work the next morning, then she hugged me and asked me, ‘how are you feeling?’

 

I didn’t reply.

 

“So did you get Edward’s album?”

 

She, for some unapparent reason, would only call Ed Sheeran his full first name-‘Edward’.

 

“Ah, something like that.”

 

--

 

You rub your eyes tiredly, running a hand through your messy hair. Classes weren’t scheduled to start until nine that day which was, strangely, far later than usual. Clad in the same attire from the previous night you walk out of your bedroom and towards the kitchen, ready to brew your much needed daily dose of caffeine. You snap quickly out of your morning haze as you see a bundle of letters being slitted under the door. Strange, you thought, the mail hadn’t came for weeks because of the heavy snowfall around Britain. Making sure that not a drop of your precious coffee would land on your new door mat; you bend down and snatch up the pile of paper and packages before walking over and placing them haphazardly on the coffee table.

 

After emptying the mug til the very last drop you check your watch, “Holy crap!” it was already 8:40 and it took at least 15 minutes to get to Oxford in the terrible traffic and dreadful weather. And what with your horrible excuse of a car. The letters would have to wait, but who really cared, letters from Oxford and bills, was there really anything different in this endless routine?

 

--

 

You push open the door and flick on the light switch. Your eyelids droop even after a later-than-usual wake up that day. You drop your briefcase and slump onto the armchair feeling as if you could fall asleep any moment. Like every other night, the city lights shone through the uncurtained windows, but in a seemingly peculiar way, every night the lights were different. Different. But why weren’t the city lights part of this undying routine i call life?

 

As you stare at the flickering lights outside, the bundle of mail sitting on the coffee table catches your attention.

 

Sitting straighter in your seat, you grab the bundle and swiftly sift through the envelopes. Oxford, Dad, bills, Oxford, Oxford, electricity bill, Dad’s business, and then a strange, thin parcel. Maybe an early present from mum and Emily, you think curiously, flipping the thin brown package over.

 

But the ever-so familiar messy cursive handwriting, slightly wobbled when coming to your name, catches your eye.

 

Isabelle?

 

You rip open the parcel, completely wrecking the many tens of minutes spent on the careful calligraphy. An album comes to view, Taylor Swift? Isa never liked her music that much, you think, well except for our song. ‘Mine’ was all we listened to for weeks on end.  You let go of of the remains of the wrapping in order to crack open the album case, a little folded up letter slipped out onto the cramped living room’s dark rug. You pick it up, slightly trembling in silent fear at what you were about to read.

 

track seven.

 

remember, everytime i don’t i almost do.

 

this time i did.

 

The thirteen words seem puzzling, running wildly in frenzy through your mind. But in a flash it starts to make sense as the puzzle pieces move closer to click together. You hastily unzip the briefcase, grabbing the Macbook and booting it up. Hurry, you urge the laptop to open iTunes as you fumbled around with the plastic CD case before finally extracting the disk. You insert the disk and when the CD is registered you immediately click ‘track 7’.

 

--

 

You toss and turn all night, one second the sheets get warm and sweaty, and the next completely dry and ice-cold. You understood now, well, not quite. There are so many questions, a whole mile long list you could’ve written out and presented to me. The room felt crowded with people all screaming and yelling, but really it was just you, and your mind with so many thoughts shouting at you.

 

Did she still want to see me? you think, meet me again, even?

 

Does she want us, our whole friend group, to get together again and maybe reform our band? Does she still want to hold-hands like we used to and spend weekends together? Does she want to laugh and joke around, the comfort of each other’s presence letting us free to have fun? Does she still want to be together after all I did, and after all this time?

 

Most of all, does she still love me?

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