Re-draft of When Your Soul Mate Says No
Switching some stuff around
It had been almost nine years since I last visited my hometown, but now that I was leaving the country for good I felt compelled to visit there one last time. My much loved, battered blue car had been sold a few weeks ago, so I took the train and then a bus to get to Reddville.
Things had not changed much. The area had stayed more or less the same, a few buildings renovated, the streets perhaps a little cleaner now that the environment had been placed at the forefront of our minds. I even recognised a few people.
Most of them remembered me from the time that I had lived there. Those that weren't in a hurry made the usual polite conversation exchanged between old acquaintances. Some of them, my classmates, had children of their own, which reminded me of how much time had past. I was only a teenager myself when I left Reddville.
About twenty minutes or so after I was dropped off at the bus stop, I was spotted by Mrs Harper, my old next door neighbour. I had lived in number 7 Peppermint Road and she had occupied number 5. Even then she was a rather frail old lady who had been a widow for as long as I could remember. Despite the age difference, my parents had been very good friends with her and she had always been pleasant towards me.
When she realised that it was me walking along the street her wrinkled face broke into a smile, one that was already more genuine than the other townsfolk. She gripped onto her walking stick and hobbled towards me.
We sat down on a nearby bench and she could barely contain her happiness to have been able to see me again, asking me questions like: how I was doing, where I was living now, what I was up to, how were my parents. Each answer I gave, she listened with keen interest.
When I asked her how she was doing, she put on a cheerful grin and I saw in her eyes a glint of her old humour self, which I had greatly missed.
"My nephew insists on me selling the house and moving into a retirement home - which is what they call care homes nowadays - that I'm too old and vulnerable to be living on my own. But I told him to shove off, I'm still alive and kicking, and if the home is as good as he says it is then maybe he should go and live there. After all, he will be sixty next year!"
"So, what brings you back to this old dump?" She asked me.
I shrugged. "There's something I need to do before I move away again."
That was when she noticed that I was holding a bunch of flowers. Her face fell and she took one of my hands into both of hers.
"Have you met someone, dear?" She spoke softly, in a measured tone. I supposed she had been trying to avoid this topic until now.
I shook my head. "No one special." No one that was him is what I really meant. She knew that, but kept silent.
Mrs Harper got up a moment later. I could see that she was struggling so I tried to help, but she refused.
"I shan't keep you any longer, dear. It was a pleasure to see you again, and if you ever back in the country, don't be a stranger and come visit me. I will be living where I have always lived for as long as I am alive!"
I smiled at her stubborness and she smiled back. I stuck out a hand, expecting her to shake it, but instead she pulled me into a hug and told me that she wished me all the best with life, what ever I decide to do with it. Then she picked up her walking stick and hobbled down the road.
I headed off in the opposite direction, towards the park. The closer I got, I began to feel a lump form in my throat and my eyes starting to sting. This was harded than I thought it would be.
As I reached the park's gates, I saw the hill in sight. It was smaller than I remembered. Had it shrunk? Was it the larger hill towards the back of the park?
No, this was definitely it. I knew as soon as I was stood upon it. The way all the buildings had parted so that the town's main road could cut down the middle of them, but more importantly, in the evening you could watch the sun set below horizon.
This was it. This was Adam's favourite place.
I shut my eyes and let the breeze hit my face, the sun shine through my eyelids. Up here, though only a few metres from the ground, everything else seemed so distant.
Though the idea seemed so foolish, I half expected to find Adam standing beside me when I reopened my eyes. He'd be crossing his arms, wearing that half-smile of his and his dark eyes alive with emotion.
"Evangeline," he'd say my name. My full name that not even my family used, but he had always called me by it. When I did not respond he would wrap his arms around me and whisper it in my ear.
Another gust of breeze came from the east and it felt as human breath does when it hits the skin of your neck. I opened my eyes, for a split second forgetting everything and believing that he was there.
I was alone and he was not there. This fact came crashing into me with such a force that I burst into tears. The bunch of flowers slid from my grip and landed on the grass with a thud. They started to roll down the side of the hill.
Why. Why couldn't I just accept that he had moved on and I couldn't? Why had I come back here, to this place, to go through all this again?
"Hey," a voice called from behind her. "Evangeline, is that you? I should have known that I'd find you here one day."