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‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Annette has a strong, undying hate for Andrew.
‘This is too ridiculous’ Andrew can only pretend to hate the only girl he has ever loved.
Silence.

Annette and Andrew met in high school. Andrew had a reputation to live up to, and broke her heart in every way possible. Annette never fit in. She never forgave him, and he never forgave himself. Now, at 9:47, late on the stormy evening of October, these two familiar strangers have taken seats in the same taxi cab. While Annette is counting the seconds until the cab arrives in front of her sister’s house, Andrew goes over every word he could possibly say to mend back the seams he tore.

‘Annie.’ He sighs as the soft word leaves his lips. Her name had settled itself in a cozy corner in the back of his mind. While she says nothing back and pierces her glare into his eyes, he is grateful that she showed them to him. Beautiful as ever, is what he wishes he could say. The delicate, beautiful fingers that wrap up in each other on her lap have stained his memory as the only fingers worthy enough to wrap up in his.

‘Andrew.’ She gasps to hold back the angry words that fight her lips to leave. His name was completely forgotten, filed away, and lost. His face brought her stumbling upon it, as if clearing out an attic. Dusty and old, the name feels tired and over-used, broken and rough. As she looks into his eyes, she sees the many times she cried and couldn’t find him anywhere. She feels the stinging dagger that he threw into her heart as he left her countless times. His rough hands that push upon the leather seat, seem filthy and tired. She thinks back to days that she wanted nothing more than to hold them, then her stomach aches.
Silence.

Annette was the smart girl. She gave people her homework to copy in hopes that she would make a friend. She had no one. Andrew was captain of the football team as a sophomore. Everyone in school knew who he was. He had everything. The only thing he didn’t have was his homework for Advanced Physics the morning before the state game. Annette did. When Mr. Popular came up to Ms. Nobody asking for help, Annette had hope. They stayed in the library through lunch. He was quiet and let her do all the talking. Then she took her glasses off and looked at him. “You get that?” All he could do was nod. After that her voice became a song. A song about velocity stuck in his head through the game. She wasn’t in the stands, and all he wanted to do was get another look at her eyes so close to his. They won the game.

The celebration started, as did the walking. Annette lived just outside of town. Andrew had a car, but walking seemed right. It took longer, but longer found the perfect words and placed them perfectly into sentences that made up the most perfect thing to say to her. He knocked on the door, and asked for Annie. That was how the name began. She was no longer boring Annette. She was beautiful Annie. While waiting by the front door, he revised the perfect thing to say, but as she slid into the room wearing baggy, paint-stained sweatpants, an over sized t-shirt and dog slippers, he fell in love. His perfect sentences broke into pieces so small the perfect words could never be recovered. He said, “You’re beautiful Annie.” He said only and truly because she was beautiful in every way. Her shocked smile made his heart explode and she became his.

‘How are you?’ Andrew sits in the old cab feeling like a teenage boy falling in love again. His hopes are completely high, as far as high can be.

‘Look Andy, I’m okay. I’m great, and have never been better.’ She is lying. She lies because it has only been three years since graduation and her heart never healed, in fact, she never took it back. She still cries every night over the boy who stole it. Now here he is, with her heart still in his pocket. Now she sits in a daze, completely stunned that she can look into his eyes and feel like nothing ever went wrong.

‘Oh, that’s good. I’m glad to hear that, Annie.’

‘Don’t call me that.’

‘You called me Andy.’

‘Everyone calls you Andy.’

‘Well, I call you Annie.’

‘Don’t.’ The truth is, she calls him Andy because she loves the sound of his name. Andrew could be anyone. He is Andy. Truth is, she loves when he calls her Annie. The deep, smooth sound of his voice gliding over those five letters is a perfect humming lullaby. She wants him to say it again.

‘Annie. I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am, because there is no way either of us is taking a cab anywhere far enough to finish. I regret hurting you more than anything I have ever done. Four years since I screwed up and I can’t forgive myself. I won’t, because if I forgive myself, it’ll stop hurting. Since the moment I became the reason for the tears staining your face, I wanted to die. I hate myself for it, and I won’t allow myself to be happy since then.’
Silence.

‘It’s really actually not that hard, Annie. You know why? Well, because there is no way I can ever be happy without you. It’s not possible.’ While Annette wanted to throw herself across the old cab’s back seat, Andrew wiped the tears from the firm of his jaw. She couldn’t look at him anymore.

‘That was the perfect thing to say. Too bad I’m five years late.’ Truth is, to Annette, he could never be late. Truth is, she wants to hate him. After five years of building up the hatred, she thought nothing could penetrate the cold, stone wall. Andrew would have thought so, too. As he reaches his stop, he puts money through the window and steps outside. Before he closes the door, he bends down to look at her one last time.

‘I really am sorry, whether or not that means anything to you.’

‘Okay Andy. I forgive you.’ Truth is, this really is the moment she forgave him. No sooner and no later then when he shut the old cab door, did the stone wall completely shatter and disappear as if it were never there. She was in love with him. She is still in love with him. Truth is, he just needed the perfect thing to say.





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