The house looks the same…kind of. The bushes are new, you think. Maybe. Probably. Hard to say.
You know you should head in, but you have to stop to gather your thoughts. It’s cold. Not bitterly so, but colder than you’ve felt in a long time. You wonder if you’ll still blush like you used to when you enter the warm home on a cold day.
Through the windows, the lights blaze out, spilling faint yellow spears across the walk and onto to the lawn. Too many lights, you think. Wasting electricity. Then you remind yourself you’ve been gone for a little while and maybe some flaw pointing can, or should, wait.
Gabrielle walks by the window carrying balloons. You stop breathing for a moment. She looks utterly the same and completely different. You’ve obviously seen photos since you left, but seeing her in person. It’s…shocking.
You feel your heart beating faster and faster. Part of you is wondering if a hotel might be a good idea. Just for tonight. Or just for a week. Or for a little while, at least. Until everyone can get used to the idea of you being home again. But you know that’s silly. It’s home. What’s there to get used to?
And, also, a part of you confesses, you’re never really going to get used to it again. You aren’t you anymore. Not that you, the one that signed the lease, the one that installed the swingset in the backseat. You are hoping to discover that you somewhere in walls or in the closets of this former and now almost home. You are hoping. But you aren’t optimistic.
The wind pushes by hard in a quick flush. It stings you back to the here and now. You realized you’ve been watching the house for ten minutes. You take another step forward and see Gaby talking to Tyler. God, he’s got big. Wow. You feel a lump in your throat and you want, so desperately, to just turn and run. Turn and run all the way back, beg them to take you back. Admit you were wrong, you didn’t hate it. Beg them to not send you home. Back where you used to belong. Back to where everything is a reminder that this is not your world anymore.
You want it, but you can’t. The people in that house waited for you, bought your hollow assurances of life returning to the way it was. You owe them. They may be the old you’s family, but you owe them nonetheless.
Tyler sees you and gives you an awkward hug. You feel tears on your face. You hear them say, “Welcome home.”
You hope they’re right.
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