As I pulled up to my childhood home, I couldn’t help but get teary eyed at the nostalgia. It’s been two years; two whole years since I have driven past the hole in the wall convenience store a block away from the house; two years since I pulled up alongside the cracked curb of my childhood home; seven hundred and thirty days; seventeen thousand five hundred twenty hours. And now I was back after I swore to myself I would never step foot in the village of Holmes Chapel again. When I left, there were so many things I was running from; I never thought the major reason I left, would be the reason I came running home.
“Lily!” My mother yelled from the white picket fence entrance. “My baby is home!” She squealed leaving her spot and practically jumping into my car as I opened the door.
“Hey mom.” I could barely say anything else before she engulfed me into a bear hug, in which I could barely breathe.
Pilling back she said, “Come in love. I was just about to start preparing dinner.” Helping me with my luggage, we entered the warm home. Pictures of my childhood scattered upon the walls.
“Make sure to put all of your clothing downstairs in the washroom, and don’t forget to take your rain boots and jacket off!” The clean freak of my mother finally showed.
After doing as she said, I went upstairs to freshen up.
My room was exactly how I left it. Nothing was out of place, and I was surprised to see there was a thick layer of dust on my furniture. In a way it shocked me, knowing my mother, being the clean freak that she is, never stepped in my room to dust. I wondered if she even came into my bedroom at all.
I met mom in the kitchen after I was done settling in. She was standing over the sink with furrowed brows, washing a pot. I couldn’t help but realize the changes in her features since the last time I saw her two years ago. Mom’s skin was now pale and beginning to show signs of withering; her once dirty blonde hair was now a shimmering grey in the evening sun shining through the kitchen window.
Noticing my presence, my mom looked up and smiled. “I feel like an idiot, but when I went to the market, I forgot to grab buttermilk and yeast for the rolls!” She paused, while grabbing a rag to wipe her hands off with. “I hope you wouldn’t mind running to the convenience store down the street.”
Waving it off, she gave me money and soon enough I had my boots and jacket on and was out the door. It had been so long since I walked into the hole in the wall store, I forgot that the censored doors lagged a few seconds, causing me to slam straight into the glass sliding doors with an ‘omf’. Quickly recovering, I looked around, hoping no one saw my not so graceful moves. Luckily no one was there so I walked into the store.
The store smelled of tobacco and burning incense, just how I remembered. Memories of buying my first ounce of liquor, first cigarettes, first time buying rolling paper for joints… My heart was heavy for all the things that I lost when I ran to the city.
With everything that I needed in my hands, I made my way to the single lined checkout. Just as I was putting my items on the counter, I heard a loud crash of glass on the store floor. Jumping, I quickly looked back to see what the commotion was about. The air quickly filled with the smell of strong hard liquor.
Glancing up from the mess, I froze.
Low and behold if it wasn’t Carter, my first love and heart ache, looking as if he was a dear in headlights. And just as soon as I could blink, he was sprinting out of the store like lightening. Without even thinking, I left all the merchandise on the counter and sped out the door after him.
“Carter!” I breathlessly called after him. He didn’t look back once as he scurried down the unlit streets. If I didn’t recognize the way he ran by his silhouette, I probably wouldn’t be sure if I was even chasing the right person.
“Please…” I puffed as my lungs expanded for air. “Carter, stop!”
As quick as he ran off, he stopped. Not giving me any warning, I tumbled into him, knocking both of us to the ground. I was laying straight on top of him. Only one word can describe the feeling and that is, awkward.
“Shit.” I winced, feeling a jab in my ribs. As my eyes became adjusted to the moons light, his features became more visible. I took a moment to absorb in his appearance.
Carter’s dark brown curls were lazily muddled into a dark grey beanie; his cheeks were sunken in; dark circles and bags under his once glowing eyes. The only thing familiar about Carter was his cologne. The deep musk conveyed back so many memories; a lump was brought to my throat and tears to my eyes.
“Lil…” He flinched as if someone or something had stricken him. “I mean Lilith,” He paused, “Are you going to get off of me?”
I blushed he probably thought I was weird, as I laid on top of him taking in his presence. As I moved I realized the object that was stabbing me in the ribs was Carter’s protruding ribs.
I quickly sat up, looking at him still lying on his back looking up at the night sky. I observed how fragile and bent he looked. He was a skeleton, looking as if he hadn’t eaten in god knows how long.And I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to him when I left.
“Carter...” My voice thick with emotion, “What happened?” Running a hand through my brown hair, I looked at him frantic for some sort of answer.
Carter stood up like lightening looking as if he had seen a ghost.
I reached for his hand, but he pulled it away from me, out of reaching distance.
“You…” He whispered looking at his hands, then looked to me, his blue eyes practically piercing though mine. “ You did this…”
And with that he sprinted off into the darkness. I would have followed him, but I was too shocked, stunned, at the words that had just come out of his mouth.