(I own nothing!)
Lily groaned and unwillingly extracted herself from the warm bed. Stumbling her way the bathroom, she glanced in the mirror. She looked like someone ran her over with a Mack truck a few hundred times. Last night had been hell and the few hours' sleep not nearly enough. She splashed water on her face to try and gain some semblance of a human being.
Trudging down the hall, she winced as every step sent her head spinning and her stomach to a loud growl.
Then the moderately dark hallway ended and she was thrown into the light streaming in through the one-bedroom-apartment kitchen windows.
The smell of coffee wafted under her nose and she gravitated toward the heavenly drink. Pouring herself a cup, she drank greedily not caring that she burned her tongue in the process.
Remembering that she hadn't eaten since the night before, she went to the cabinet to get her cereal out.
Except it wasn't there.
She scanned the shelf for any trace of her elusive cereal when a familiar crunch became audible through the haze of sleep deprivation and general crankiness at the lack of her cereal. She slowly turned around, and there at the table sat her fiancé eating the last bite of her favorite, can-only-get-it-from-one-store-in-town cereal.
Sensing that his life was in mortal peril, Nick looked up to find his wife-to-be glaring everything from battle axes to throwing darts at him. He gulped down the last of the cereal in his mouth before looking at the empty bowl in front of him.
"You know I thought that there was more left than that." She arched an eyebrow. Strike one.
"It was a little stale, anyway." The other eyebrow was raised. Strike two.
He knew better than to push three since that ended with him sleeping on the couch for a week.
"I'll just go buy you some more." He raced out the door before she could decide that two strikes were enough for punishment.
She glared at the spot he had just left not out of anger but out of unwillingness to move her tired body more than necessary.
She slowly decided that she could sit without falling asleep, and anyway her feet hurt. Slumping into the chair, she sighed contentedly as her weight was shifted from her much abused feet to her much less abused bum.
She let out a small shriek of alarm as her leg vibrated and a jingle rang out through the otherwise silent room. Pulling out her cell phone, she glanced at the screen.
It was her fiancé. She briefly toyed with the notion of not answering and sticking with the whole peeved thing, but the worry that he might have forgotten the brand of cereal caused her to press the 'view message' button.
'Smile. Don't kill anyone.'
She smiled. He knew that she couldn't smile and still be angry; it just didn't work with her.
Two hours passed and she finally made an omelet for herself. She wasn't worried about him being late. He was an artist and would frequently wander off when something inspired him. After all, that was how they met. They had literally run into each other at a street fair in early October. She had intrigued him and he had followed her around begging for a date the rest of the day. She never regretted saying yes the 58th time he asked even if it was only to get him to stop.
She smiled at the memory and deciding that she was a little too hard on him that morning, thought of ways to make it up to him.
She began to write out the things she would need for her 'I'm sorry for nearly biting your head off this morning' dinner when the doorbell rang. Looking up from her list, she sighed. 'If he locked himself out one more time,' she thought as she reached for the door, 'I swear I'm going to-'. But it wasn't him. Standing in the door way were two grim-faced police officers.
"Can I help you, officers?" She asked, confused as to why they were there.
"Are you Mrs. Jones?" The one with the bigger mustache asked in a gruff voice.
"Ah… Yes- I mean I will be next month. Is something wrong, officers? Is Nick okay?" She knew that Nick couldn't be in the hospital, hers was the closest, and someone there would have recognized him and called.
"I'm afraid we have some bad news, ma'am." Her heart sank.
"Your fiance was killed in a car crash." Her voice choked in her throat. "A drunk driver ran a red light and crashed into him. He died on impact." Her legs gave out and one of the police officers caught her before she hit the ground.
"NononononononoNONONONOONONONO!" Her voice turned into a wail of agony as the pain set in and her vision blurred from tears.
It's odd, she remembered going to identify the body, she remembered the wake and then the funeral, and she remembered the day she left for her year leave, but the rest runs together nothing but a mass of tears, alcohol, pain, sleepless nights and heartache.
She doesn't leave the apartment. She stays there wrapped up in all that is left of Nick in her life, an empty apartment that used to be their home and a text message. She reads the text everyday religiously.
Her family called nonstop trying to get through the pain-filled doll to the daughter they used to know. It was five months before she left the apartment. One of her friends forced her to go out to eat with her. It was more contact than she'd had in months. She filled out an application for a clinic somewhere in South America. She didn't care if she got the job or not. She just needed to start over, leave all that reminded her of Nick behind and move on. Her heart screamed treason at the thought of moving on; leaving Nick behind, but her mind was just as strong knowing that time must move forward and so must she.
It hurt at first to walk around town knowing that he wasn't here walking with her, but the pain dulled to an ache over time.
Then the letter came. She'd been accepted. She left for the clinic in a month. Her mind raced at possibilities of a new life somewhere far away but her heart wrenched at the thought of everything she was going to leave behind. But she had to go. She was a rat in a maze and the door had just been closed; she couldn't go back so the only way to go was forward.
The plane wasn't a nice one, but the people on the plane were reasonably friendly. The taxi that picked her up was old and beat up, and the interior looked like a bomb was taken to it. The roads were rough and treacherous, causing her to bounce around in her seat, or what was once a seat.
Finally the taxi stopped outside of a building. It was blue and white with people walking about.
This was her home now, she couldn't go back.
She took a deep breath and stepped out of the taxi.
This was her fresh start.