June 27, 2013
I was restacking a pile of boxes on display in the front of the store—that had been knocked over by a passing toddler—when I heard footsteps approach. Russet-colored feet with pink toe nails in white sandals waited patiently in front of me on the linoleum. They didn’t speak as I picked the last box up and placed it on the pile before turning to see who it was. Emily stood in front of me, her face free of the bandages.
Three scars stretched from her eyebrow to her chin. She wore a long-sleeved shirt, but the bandages had covered her arms as well, so I assumed there were more scars. The corner of her eye was dragged down by one of the scars.
Fighting myself, I turn and walk past Emily, ignoring her. She catches up and walks beside me.
“Leah,” she says. “How are you?”
I glare at her as I answer. “Sorry. I just wanted to thank you. For going to the hospital that day. I know that probably wasn’t very easy for you. It was good to have you there, though.”
“You didn’t even talk to me, ” I argue.
“Still. You went.”
“Yeah,” I say.
“I’m sorry, Leah. For hurting you. I miss you—a lot, ” Emily says softly.
“I don’t care, ” I say bitterly. “Why don’t you just leave me alone and run back to Sam?”
“Leah, ” Emily says, her voice full of pain, “I wish we hadn’t ever hurt you. You don’t know how many times I’ve told Sam that he should go back to you—he just doesn’t listen.”
I struggle to see right through the blurry fog of tears as they fill my eyes. I turn away from Emily and straighten boxes on the shelves.
“I don’t want him back, ” I say, although it takes every ounce of energy from me. Emily hears the obvious lie in my words and puts her hand on my arm. I shake her off.
“I’m sorry, ” Emily apologizes again and walks away.
I sink down to the floor with my back against the shelves, messing up the boxes I had just straightened. The tears spill onto my cheeks and I sit with my head buried in my knees, sobbing.
“Miss? Are you all right? ” a customer from out of town asks me.
I shake my head.
“Are you hurt?”
“Only on the inside, ” I respond, looking up to see a young couple watching over me.
I stand up and hurry to the back of the store where my boss is supposed to be, counting inventory. She takes one look at me and shakes her head.
“Go ahead, ” she tells me, and I leave the store.