Calli returns, next morning, fresh, awake and seemingly well.
“You look happier.” I say, a wide smile on my face, “Get a good nights sleep?”
“Yeah, not bad - I spent most of it putting up blinds.” she grins cheekily at my look of complete confusion, puts the set of clothes she has in her arms on the sideboard and kisses Alex on the forehead, “Has he been OK?”
“Nothing. No change,” she frowns, “but it doesn’t mean he’s got any worse.” I add hurriedly.
“Good. I brought you some clothes.” she indicates the pile that she left on the side and I look across. A pair of jeans and two t-shirts lay on the side. “Underwear in the middle, between the t-shirt and jeans.” she’s fussing over Alex, holding a notebook in her left hand. I look again as I realise it’s her diary.
“So, you really are staying over tonight?” I say quietly, “you’ve even got your diary.”
“Deepest darkest secrets and all that.” she says quietly, “Speeches, quotes. I spent some time reading it over in the darkest hours of this morning. It’s quite a page turner.”
“It got a bit boring around the 12th June ‘99.” a week or so before her 13th birthday, almost a month after Alex’s.
“Git.” she punches me on the shoulder, “go change, you smell, and bugger off for an hour or so. I’ve had my go… off you go.” she shoos me, and I realise she is going to divulge her darkest secrets to the unmoving Alex, and this is not the time to be here.
I return at half past 7, it’s dark outside, and the lights are down here, suddenly, I get the feeling that I still shouldn’t be here. She’s sitting in the semi-darkness, tears falling down her face, blinding her vision as she clutches his hand tight, holding onto him for dear life.
“I know you probably can’t hear me, but you need to hear this, I Love You.” She half smiled, and continued, “Yes, that is the best I can do, but you’ll see what I mean in a minute. You’ve got to pull through for me Alex; you’ve got a family, people that love you.” Calli presses her lips to the back of his hand.
She squeezed his hand again, planting her feet against the legs of his bed as she tried not to cry.
“That’s why I say I love you, to remind you that people do love you, most of all me. People know that eventually, something around the pair of us has got to give, to make or break our relationship, because of who you are, of what we do, Alex, but… it’s not going to be this. I won’t let it be this. Whatever it takes, I will be waiting right with you for whatever comes. If you fall, I will be right there to pick you up. People who love you, a wife who will wait for you forever if I have to.” she wiped her eyes and continued, “Alex, I love you, and right now, I don’t care about anything but you, and getting you better.” she held onto his hand, tired, feeling her eyes closing through exhaustion.
“I can’t stand losing you Alex, Don’t make me try.”
*Again. Before. Reunion*
She launched herself into Alex’s arms, so forcefully that he staggered backwards three paces, feeling her bury herself into his chest.
“Alex! I…” his arms tightened around her, he didn’t want to let her go - he wouldn’t be letting her go for a long time after this. Realising their position, they split apart and sized each other up, Alex, almost unchanged, reflected the worry lines now etched into Calli‘s face. He looked at her, tilting his head, silently speaking the words he had longed to say for so long.
“I missed you,” she shook her head, grinning, her arms bending to place her hands in her pockets. With a half smile, she replied just as silently, her eyes lighting up with a mischief that Alex had seen so many times before.
“You were worried about me?”
“Of course I was Cal. How would you feel if I hadn’t told you I was going to run away?” he realised what he had said, just a few seconds too late. “I mean…” she shook her head again, throwing her arms around him.
“It doesn’t matter, Alex. It doesn’t matter at all.” Combing a hand through his hair, Calli twisted her fingers around the back of Alex’s neck, the calming manoeuvre she always used when somebody around her was stressed.
Nodding, Alex knew this was one of those days where everything he said or did would turn to gold dust, just because she was so glad to be home, and he knew he should make the most of it, so he bent forwards and let his lips fall against her cheek. She smiled and closed her eyes, allowing her hands to hold onto his shoulders with a grip to rival that of a free climber.
“Don’t do that again Cal, you had me terrified.”