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One Ocean Over
“Don’t cry,” he pleaded, wiping yet another tear from her eye. The pain in his eyes tore up her insides, and her heart sunk even deeper in her chest.
“I’m trying,” she told him honestly with a shaky laugh. Because she was trying. These were there last few moments together for who knows how long. She didn’t want his last memory of her to be with tears running down her cheeks.
She took a deep breath, trying not to let her breath catch. He pulled her closer to him, and she rested her head on his chest so that she could hear his heart beat. That had always calmed her down before, she didn’t see why it wouldn’t work now.
She felt his lips on her head, and she closed her eyes, savoring the moment. In just a few short minutes she would walk away, not knowing when, or even if, she would see him again. The person who changed her life for the better. The person whom she would trade the world for. The person whom she loved.
Merely thinking of leaving had tears in her eyes again. She held her breath, trying to hold them back for just a little while longer. Once she was on the plane she could cry to her broken heart’s content, if she didn’t mind the strange looks she was sure to get from the other passengers.
“I love you, Abella,” he whispered softly against her hair. Hearing him say those words, those words that he had said and meant thousands of times before that suddenly held a new, deeper meaning, brought another onslaught of emotion upon Abella.
“I l-love y-y-,” Abella tried to say those three words back to him, but couldn’t manage to get them out before she broke down again. She squeezed her eyes shut and bit down on her lip, trying to calm herself. She needed to tell him, she needed to make sure he wouldn’t forget.
“Hey,” he murmured, cupping her tear-stained face and tilting it up so she had to look in his eyes. His sad, regretful eyes that Abella was sure mirrored her own. “It’s going to be okay. We’re going to be okay. I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Andrew,” she told him as doubt and apprehension filled her expression. She saw a new level of hurt pass through his eyes as he took in her words.
“I won’t,” Andrew assured her fiercely. She just nodded, not trusting her voice to speak. “I’m serious, Abella,” he said again. He had to make sure she knew that he meant it. “I do promise. It will be okay.”
Abella only nodded again, knowing she would only be able to get out a few more words before she wouldn’t be able to regain control until she had cried it out. She certainly didn’t want that to happen in front of Andrew, and there were a few words that were much more important that the rest.
Abella raised her head and laid her hands on Andrew’s face. As much as it pained her, she didn’t look away from his emotion-filled eyes.
“I’ll always love you, Andrew,” she told him, her voice steady. For the first time since Abella could remember, she saw tears in Andrew’s eyes. She saw his lip begin to quiver, but he quickly clenched his jaw to keep back the waterworks.
If it was even possible at this point, Abella’s heart broke even more. He was trying to be strong for her, when he wanted to curl up and cry just as much as she did. But he wasn’t, and it was all for Abella. Because he loved her. He really loved her.
Abella and Andrew had never had an easy relationship. It was always one thing or another threatening to split them apart. But, somehow, they had always managed to overcome it. That is, until now. Abella wasn’t sure if they would make it this time. There had been so many other things, she wasn’t sure if they were strong enough to make it through another.
Abella moved her hands from his face, and instead wrapped her arms around his neck. She rested her head in the crook of his neck, and breathed him in, trying to memorize his scent that she had become so familiar with.
Andrew’s arms tightened around her as she felt his shoulders shaking slightly. He regained control faster than she would’ve expected, and at that moment became determined to take her turn being strong for them. It had always been Andrew comforting her, but Abella wanted him to know she was there for him just as he was for her. Abella wanted to be strong for them, too. As much as he insisted upon it, Andrew couldn’t do it alone.
A voice came over the airport loudspeaker. “Now boarding Flight A-97.”
Abella sniffled and looked up at Andrew with a small, sad smile. He looked down at her with a similar smile, he eyes glossy with unshed tears.
Slowly, he lent down to meet her lips with his own. He kissed her softly, gently, and it only lasted a few seconds before he pulled away. Gathering up all the will power she could muster, Abella stepped out of his hold. A rush of cold enveloped her as soon as the contact was lost.
Abella picked up her bags and took a few steps backwards towards her gate. “Goodbye, Andrew.”
Andrew didn’t say anything, he simply smiled as best he could and tried to show her with his eyes just how much he meant what he promised her. He didn’t say good-bye. In Andrew’s mind, the words ‘good bye’ meant ending, and he and Abella have certainly not met their end.
Abella blew her love a kiss before turning and walking onto the plane. She found her seat in the first row of the first class seats. She had never flown as anything less.
Once everyone had boarded the relatively small plane, Abella was relieved to see that whoever was meant to sit beside her had not shown. Either way, nothing or no one could dull the distinct ache in her chest.
Once they were in the air, Abella curled her knees up to her chest and rested her head back on her seat. All the tears she had held in while she was with Andrew finally made their way down her face. Abella made no attempt to stop them or hold them back for even a second longer. She let them flow. She let herself hurt. She let herself remember.
She let herself remember how it had all started. The day she met Andrew. The way he smiled. The way his bright eyes twinkled. She smiled through her tears, just thinking of him and their better days.
Her smile quickly faded, though, when her mental timeline reached the times when they couldn’t be together. Like now. Though, she admitted to herself, none of those times had been as bad as this one. All those other times, Abella was sure they would one day be together again, and they were never separated for longer than a few days, a week at the most.
But this time, she couldn’t be so sure. This time it was serious. This time she would be gone for four years. No way for her to visit Andrew, no way for Andrew to visit her. No way to see him until her four years were up. A lot can happen in a year, let alone four.
What if he meant someone else? Abella thought, and panic rose in her chest. She didn’t think she could bear knowing that he loved someone else, that he was with someone else the way he was with her.
Abella wanted to know that Andrew wouldn’t leave her. She wanted to be able to be absolutely positive that Andrew would wait for her. But, like she had told Andrew, she wouldn’t make promises she couldn’t keep.
She hadn’t known him for long, only a little over one year. But they had gone through so much in that short time frame. That was enough, wasn’t it? She hoped so, but she still couldn’t be sure.
Once Abella’s tears had run dry, she stared out the plane’s tiny window, watching as they passed through the clouds.
“Good afternoon, passengers,” said the co-pilot’s voice over the loudspeaker. “We are now passing over the Atlantic Ocean, and will reach our destination in approximately eleven hours.”
Abella sighed. She had a long flight ahead of her. Eleven hours to leave the past behind. Eleven hours until she started her new life.
They had never been okay with Abella being with Andrew. But they had never done anything serious about it, until now. Now, they were done messing around. And Abella knew that she and Andrew may be done, as well.
The crying and the rush of memories hadn’t taken any of her pain away, but had somehow made it more bearable. Thinking back on all the times she had spent with Andrew had reminded her how much he was worth this. How much he was worth everything.
Abella had been watching the clouds for longer than she thought. It was like she blinked and suddenly it was dark out.
With a sigh she nestled her head into the pillow the flight attendant had dropped on the seat beside her. She pulled her knees in closer, and slowly drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
Hours later, Abella was shaken awake by a slim, middle-aged flight attendant. The attendant’s curly red hair was falling out of its bun and dangling in her face.
“Wake up, dear,” the attendant spoke softly. “We’re here.”
Here. Here, as in Abella’s new home. Here, as in Abella’s own personal hell.
“Thank you,” Abella croaked, her voice tight from all the crying. The flight attendant shot her a sympathetic smile before standing up and walking away.
Abella stretched and looked around, quickly realizing that she was the last one left on the plane. She stood and gathered her bags before exiting the plane, smiling a ‘thank you’ to the flight attendant who had woken her as she passed.
She squinted against the bright lights of the big and empty airport as she stepped off the terminal. She shivered, feeling oddly alone. Abella walked quickly to the baggage claim area, eager to get to her hotel.
Once all her luggage was with her, she walked out into the chilly autumn air to hail down a taxi. Her foggy, sleep-filled mind was slowly clearing into coherent thought. The first thought that passed through her mind was an image of Andrew’s pained eyes, just before she walked away for what could be the last time.
She pushed the thought away as she climbed into the first cab she saw. If Abella was going to get through these four years and come out on the other side a stronger person, a person who Andrew could wait for, she couldn’t have Andrew on her mind 24/7. And that started now.
Abella knew that the four years awaiting her would be filled with mind-numbing work, designed to make her forget and move on. Even though she wasn’t sure that she would make it back to Andrew, she knew that she wouldn’t let them make her forget. Nothing could make her forget Andrew, and what they had, even if it didn’t last. Abella wouldn’t dwell, but she would remember.
Before she knew it, the taxi cab pulled up outside the hotel she would be staying at for the night. Tomorrow, her step-parents would be picking her up to take with them.
The story of her step-parents is a complicated one. Her biological parents had never been married, but both married to other people during different stages of Abella’s childhood.
Her mother and father spent little time together, but the one night they had been together, they had been coming home from Abella’s seventh-grade play. Abella wasn’t in the car; she had gone home with a friend of hers for a sleepover. That night, her parents were in a terrible car accident, and neither made it out.
A long story short, Abella’s step-father and step-mother remarried to each other, and had Abella convinced they were out to get her.
Abella paid the cab driver and checked into her room. She didn’t bother changing; she was too worn out from the day’s events. She did, however, want to brush her teeth before she slept. That had always been a quirk of hers; she couldn’t go to sleep for the night unless she had brushed her teeth.
She laid her suitcase on the foot of the bed, and unzipped it. She rummaged around for her bag of toiletries until her hand brushed against something crinkly and papery. Abella closed her hand around the object and pulled it out of the case.
She frowned in confusion when she saw what it was: a little roll of paper with a plastic ring around it.
Abella slid the ring from the paper and unrolled the sheet. She drew in a sharp breath, immediately realizing Andrew’s slanted scrawl. A tear slipped from her eye and a smile spread across her face as she read his words:
My beautiful Abella,
I promise. Be mine?
I love you,
Abella let out a small laugh as she took in his words. She tried to refrain herself from jumping up and down in spinning in circles, but then she figured no one could see her, so why not? She danced all around the room, laughing and smiling. She wished Andrew could see her, and see how happy she was. How much she believed him. How she now realized that he really would wait for her.
She scooped the ring off the bed and slipped it on the fourth finger of her left hand. Tears fell from her eyes as she looked at the plastic band and red jewel on her finger. It was a ring you would get out of the quarter machine they had at the movie theaters, but she loved it. Abella knew exactly why Andrew had given her a plastic engagement ring.
Andrew had always feared losing his luggage when he flew. Abella knew that he was afraid that if he put a real ring in her suitcase, her luggage may have been lost. So, he slipped in a plastic ring. She didn’t care. It was perfect. She would wear that ring everywhere. She would wear it when the silver paint chipped off the band. She would wear it when people stared.
She would wear it because she loved him. She would wear it because Andrew was right. They would be okay.