-August 20, 1987-six days remain-
After that, Donnie and I became inseparable. We spent every waking moment together. I wanted to know everything about him, every tiny detail of his life.
Elizabeth figured it out soon enough- though of course it was blatantly obvious when she walked into my room unannounced and found me pressed against a wall with Donnie’s mouth working furiously against my own. Needless to say she’d given me a ton of shit about it and she would probably tease me about it for the remainder of my stay.
But I didn’t care. I was in love. I wanted to spend every moment with Donnie. I never wanted to let him go.
“Alyssa,” he murmured later that day. iT was nearing dusk and we were sitting on the front step once against, watching the streaks of gold and rose and lavender all flow together as the sun fought to stay above the horizon. I was wrapped up in his arms, my head ducked into his shoulder and his resting atop mine.
“Your house didn’t really burn down, did it?”
The question caught me off guard. Nobody had brought up my past since I’d arrived here so many days before. Eve I had found the Alyssa I’d been before drifting away as my new life with the Darkos consumed me.
“No,” I whispered hoarsely. I thought I felt a few tears drip down my cheeks. I swallowed hard in attempt to fight them off.
Donnie reached up to grasp my chin in his hand and turned my face towards his. “Don’t cry,” he said quietly, brushing his thumb across my cheek to wipe the tears away.”Please don’t cry.”
I did my best to smile, though I was sure it came out as more of a grimace.
“I’m not crying,” I lied through my tears, which were now cascading at a steady rate. It felt so wonderful to let all that emotion go, to release it all from where it had been trapped within me.
Donnie gave me a reassuring smile, kissed me on top of the head. “It’s okay, Alyssa. I didn’t mean to upset you. You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
But the truth was that I did. I’d been ignoring it all for so long, lying to everyone- including myself. I wanted someone to talk to, someone who would listen without judging me. I was sure I had that in Donnie.
I took a long, deep breath. Donnie’s eyes were patient, searching my face.
“See, the truth is… I kind of… ran away.”
I immediately adverted my gaze back to the sky. The sun had, at long last, given up its fight and slipped below, allowing darkness to overcome the sky. Now the first few stars were beginning to show.
When he spoke, his words were soft and low. “how come?” he questioned. “What were you running from?”
I had never thought about it in that term before. I paused, knitting my brow as I considered.
“I guess… I guess I was running from myself,” I said finally. “I was running from the nightmare my life had become because running seemed so much easier than actually doing something about it.”
Donnie nodded slowly. “Running away doesn’t solve anything,” he replied. “Sooner or later you have to face it all.”
“I think I figured that out now,” I told him truthfully.
Donnie paused, then dared to ask, “What was it that was so bad?”
I pulled the side of my mouth into a half-smile. “My parents were pretty abusive.” Saying it now wasn’t hard, and it didn’t even really bother me. I found that it was easy to leave it all behind me now.
Donnie put his arms around me again and held me tightly. “I’m sorry. I know that sounds cliché but I really am. I can’t imagine why they would do that.”
I shrugged. “I’m kind of over it now that I’m free, you know? It doesn’t really seem that bad anymore.”
Donnie nodded again, and then we slipped back into a comfortable silence. It could have been hours or seconds, I wasn’t sure. We probably could have sat there forever if a moment later the door had swung shut and Elizabeth was sitting down beside us.
“Hey, guys,” she greeted. “what’s up?” I sensed the double meaning in her words and the slight edge to her tone. She cast a sidelong glance at Donnie and I.
“Nothing,” I said too quickly. I could tell she wasn’t buying it but she let it go for now.
Donnie rolled his eyes. “What are you doing out here?”
Elizabeth flashed a quick smile. “Mom and Dad sent me to check on you two,” She explained.
Donnie turned towards me and gave me a quick kiss upon the lips, then to Elizabeth he said “Tell them we’re just fine.”
This time it was Elizabeth who rolled her eyes. “Real mature, Donnie,” she muttered. “Anyway, it’s not like they really care. They’re just going through the motions to make themselves feel better.”
The sad thing was that she was right. Eddie and Rose Darko certainly loved their children, but when it came to discipline, the kids were pretty much free to do whatever they pleased.
“So, I’ll just tell them you’re being angels, then,” Elizabeth said with a bright smile, rising to her feet. We watched her retreat to the door, only letting out our breath when the door had closed behind her.
“We should probably go in too,” I admitted. “It’s getting kind of late.”
Donnie laughed a little. “Scared of the dark?” he teased.
“No,” I replied. Only the dark within me. “I’m just getting cold.”
Donnie stood up, reached out his hand to pull me up as well. I took in, and he pulled me right into his arms. “I love you,” he whispered into my hair. I was sure I would die right there.
“I love you too,” I whispered back, tilting my head up and pressing my lips to his softly. And I knew that meant I had to let him go.