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I am standing on the corner of Maple and Applewood Street in front of a small bakery that goes by the name of Baker’s Dozen. Bailey is parked in front of me, staring at me with her huge green and brown eyes that are hidden behind the bangs of long brown hair with a curl to it. The most beautiful creature I knew. But news was coming…bad news. And she knows it. This saddens me.
She’s wearing the dress. The dress I love. That pink satin sleeveless dress. Knee length. With a huge slightly over-the-top bow at the waist line placed off to the side. This is by far my favorite dress in the entire world. And she’s wearing it for me today…of all days.
I’m stalling…I might as well tell her now. Now or never…literally.
“Bailey?” I say quietly trying not to let her see through the glass that is me. “I’m not staying for much longer.” Her face is blank. Keep going Tanner…that is what I must tell myself. “My family and I are…are moving. We’re moving to New York.” Heartache is painted on her beautiful face. I can see the words forming in her mouth so I answer before she gets a chance to ask. “My father’s job interview went well…very well.” She won’t speak. The paint is thicker. “And…I’m not coming back…” She begins to say something but falters at the last minute. The paint is washed away with tears. “I’m sorry…so, so sorry…Bailey…” I instinctively wrap my arms around her shoulders and breathe in her hair. Strawberries…why am I leaving this behind? I let go of her and look at her straight in the eyes. “I love you.” I say it forcefully. She doesn’t answer. I hug her again only more tight. She hugs back. This makes me happy. “I’ll never forget you…everything we did? I won’t forget it.” I smile into the back of her head. I remember. “Even the time when we were in second grade…and you painted your nails with marker because…your mom didn’t like the mess nail polish made…” I hear her laugh. That’s good.
Finally she speaks. “Or the time when we were in fourth grade and I wanted to put highlights in my hair but my mom wouldn’t allow it…so I used paint.” We laugh together. I let go of her and look at her face again with admiration. “I won’t forget any of that. I promise.” I smile. We are quiet.
“When?” I understand the question.
“Tomorrow morning.” She shudders. I stroked the side of her arm. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I didn’t want you to have to wait for it.” She nods. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. “I have to leave now.” More tears stain her perfect cheeks. “I’ll never forget you alright?” She nods violently. This time she hugs me harder than any hug I’d ever given her. She’s just shorter than me so that her head fits under my chin. I rest my jaw on the top of her head and sigh. We rock each other back and forth for a moment and then I detach myself from her arms. I kiss her forehead and walk away down the street. It’s too painful to look back. I can only imagine her now.
Fifteen years later and I am thirty years old. I am walking that same sidewalk I walked down to say goodbye to Bailey. I stop in front of the Baker’s Dozen bakery and breathe deeply. It’s not the same. The air was much sweeter here fifteen years ago.
I walk still down to Bailey’s house which is just a couple blocks away. I falter in front of the run down shack that was the house of my beloved. It’s brown and dusty. It looks as if it hasn’t been inhabited in years. My heart sinks down lower than my stomach. Where are you Bailey?
I walk up the front steps and enter the small house. All the furniture is gone leaving behind a thick layer of dust on the carpet. I sigh but cough due to the dirt that filled my lungs. My first destination is Bailey’s room. Where we spent most of our teenage lives watching movies and eating popcorn on the bed. Those were nice times. It’s a shame they had to be covered with this blanket of time.
I open the shabby door to her room and am surprised to see the furniture still in place. The first thing you see is the towering dresser and to the right side of it the closet door. How could I forget? The first place I kissed her. I smile at myself.
I notice a small card on top of the dresser standing up on the edges so I can read the front. On it in perfect calligraphy was Tanner Open Me. I walk over quickly and grab the card off the dresser with deafening surprise. I open the card slowly not entirely knowing what to expect. It reads: Tanner. I know it’s been awhile. I miss you. You probably won’t even see this…but if you do and if you’re reading this right now…I ask you to look on the bed.
That was all it said. I turn slowly to my left where the bed would be. A tear washes over the brim of my eye. On the dust covered bed standing out from every other shade of brown and grey…completely free of dust and clean as ever…was the dress. My pink dress…