The soft breeze moved the curtains slightly without making a sound. The windows had been closed for so long – too long. She sat in the oddly placed chair, looking out the windows and letting the curtains brush against her knees. She had dragged the chair over, working up a bit of a sweat in the process. Now, though, she was still, and the sweat had dried an hour ago. She hadn’t moved once she sat down. There was no reason to – she didn’t have anywhere to go.

The house was so different the last time she’d been here. Back then it was full of noise and life. The party was one of those perfect ones that defied planning. Everyone who should have been there had showed up, and all the people she’d hoped would miss it did. There were children and old people and her peers, and everyone mixed well. The music was good, the food was delicious, and time didn’t matter. They were celebrating her birthday in the way she loved, and she was so happy. She even danced for a while, both solo and with her favorite dance partner. She was ready when it was time to blow out the candles, and she held her wish close and wouldn’t tell anyone what she hoped for. Most of her friends knew not to ask – they knew she’d never disclose her biggest wish for fear of diluting her drive to make it real.

As she sat, still, under the curtains, she thought about that night. She had barely landed in time for the party, having booked the latest flight possible so she’d be able to work right down to the wire. Grant was waiting for her at the airport, leaning casually on his double-parked car as if he wasn’t as excited as she was at the prospect of seeing her again. A small smile creeped onto her face at that memory. They both worked so hard at maintaining a casual air in their relationship and always had. The hug they shared once she made it across the lanes of traffic belied that casual pretense, and she loved him that much more as a result. Being enveloped in his arms felt so right and, as always, wondered why she kept herself from him. She breathed deep at that thought, letting ideas tumble around in her head. Had enough changed?

She blinked and returned to her reminiscence. He’d stayed close during the party while also giving her space. There were grandparents and God children and friends to entertain. Everyone wanted to have their moments with her, and she loved every minute of the attention. Birthdays had always been a favorite for her, and this one was extra special. He had taken care of all the logistics so all she had to do was enjoy the evening. It really was a perfect event, and she knew most of that was because of him. The smile on her face grew to include her eyes – she loved him, without a doubt.

A shadow passed over her face at that moment as more memories pushed their way in. The party was wonderful. The weeks between then and today had been terrible. Saying goodbye to her father was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do. She was glad she’d come home for the party. He hadn’t even told her he was sick. Grant didn’t tell her, either, though he’d been helping her father for months. They both wanted to protect her. Her shoulders tensed at that thought – she didn’t want their “protection” and they knew that. And they did it anyway. The party was wonderful, and she had gotten to spend a good amount of time with him that evening. She was still glowing from the fun when her father told her. They were sitting at the restaurant (purposefully out in public) when he slipped the news into their conversation. Grant was sitting next to her in the booth and slid over so their thighs were touching just before the words were uttered.

She hadn’t been in the house since. She came today to say goodbye or hello – she hadn’t decided which when she left the hotel. Now, sitting here, thinking back over everything, thinking about Grant, she thought she might know the answer. She took another deep breath and looked around the room. Her phone vibrated in her and seemed to bring her fully back to the present. She looked down at it and, slowly, typed her response to the text from Grant.

“I’m home. And…Yes.”

* All 30-minute musings are fiction.  Any resemblance to people or events is strictly coincidental.*

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