Someone's fierce knocking downstairs awoke me. I could barely breathe, let alone sense what time it was. I knew it had been a while since Michael had left, leaving me in a pile of regret. My hair felt rough with wear when I scratched my head and my eyes felt empty and dry, free of any liquid. I feared my reflection and stealthily avoided it while I unsteadily lifted myself onto my weak legs.
I descended the worn wooden stairs, each footstep sounding heavier than the last. The banging continued on the door. The sunlight nearly burned my eyes when I opened the door to my best friend Alice, one hand was mid-air and ready to pound once more.
“My god,” she nearly whispered after a moment of silence as she took in my appearance. “What happened to you?”
“Melanie, tell me.” She ordered; worry was beginning to etch in the few wrinkles that were slowly creasing in her forehead.
“I told him to leave.” I said flatly.
“So that’s why…” she muttered to herself while letting herself in past me. “You know you’ve been MIA for the last week? I tried calling you, but you wouldn’t answer, I was worried.”
“I’m all right.” I answered while quietly watching her make herself at home by removing her scarf and leather jacket.
“Well, Jodie said she came by here two days ago because you two had plans to watch a movie together, but she said that you never—oh god, what is that smell?” She sniffed the air in my small semi-detached house and did a simple exploration of the lower level to figure out where the smell was. “How long has it been since you opened the windows in here?”
“It’s cold outside.”
“Well, sweetie, that’s why air fresheners were invented. Now, where is your lovely can of Febreeze that I know you bought a few months ago.”
“It’s in the kitchen, under the sink.” I answered and didn’t move as she rushed past me. I could hear the banging of cupboards and after a few seconds I began to smell the scent of velvet violets.
I stood still while she spent the next ten minutes spraying every corner of my home and barely registered her loud gasp when she had entered my room.
“What the hell is this? Melanie! Have you been living in here or something?” When I didn’t answer her question she appeared in front of me after a few seconds of huffed urgency. “Have you not left your room at all in the last week?”
I stayed silent, but my quickly forming tears spoke all of my truths.
“Melanie, sweetie, why did you do it?”
I could only shake my head before I broke down into my best friend’s arms.
“Okay, okay, listen: why don’t we get you some tea or something?”
“Four years Alice,” I finally whispered, the sound almost swallowed by my gasps. “Four years of my love, but I couldn’t anymore, I just—“
“I know Mel, I know.” She held me for a while in my slightly cold living room that smelled of strong velvet violets. The sun swallowed our shadows as the time passed and my body ran dry of emotion.
When time was but a distant memory Alice moved suddenly and looked down at me with a look on her face that emphasized that she had gotten an idea. She let me go and stood up, for the first time towering over my tall frame slumped on the ground. She handed me her hand and I looked at it, half understanding that she wanted me to grab on and let her pull me up.
“I have the perfect solution for you.” She smiled down at me encouraging and urged me to take her hand. I did so tentatively. “Now come on, I know the best cure for a broken heart.”
My blurred thoughts became confused when she led me into my room, darkened by the ruby red curtains that Michael had helped me install the year before. Melanie tightened her grip on my hand, not roughly, but hard enough to bring me slightly back to reality.
“Look at this,” she whispered, her voice just touching my near-deaf ears. “The Melanie I knew was nothing like this Melanie standing here broken hearted. Before, you were elegant, showers were your haven, and your hair was your prized possession. This bed was always made right before you showered every morning and your room was always freshly sprayed with perfume. My old Melanie would change her clothes every day and would call me to gossip.”
I listened to her while the salt of my tears dried on my skin.
“This place is a mess and my best friend would never let anyone see her like this.” She turned to me and took both of my cold hands in hers, “I will not let some two-timing loser break my best friend’s heart—I will not let you destroy yourself with these emotions.”
“I love him.” I muttered simply, the words like ice on my tongue.
“There are others to love.” She stated matter-of-factly.
“There is no other Michael.”
“If you told him to leave and risked everything knowing that you would feel like this, how could you possibly say something like that?” She questioned.
I could only look down at my worn socks covered with fluffs from the bed covers.
“We will clean this place, do some laundry, get you showered—Mel,” she made me look at her. “I will fix you, you will move on. You will forget this pain.”