He stared at the dark green door with its peeling paint and brass numbers it looked like any other door in New York, but this wasn’t any door in New York it was her door. It was the door that could make him or break him. It had been a 10 years since he last saw her, ten years since she ran away. Damn door he thought. He took a deep breath and knocked.
She was staring out the window at the raging storm; she watched intently as the rain hit the glass and traced the trails of the raindrops with her eyes silently contemplating which would win the imaginary race she had created in her head. She was cradling a mug of coffee in her hands lost in thoughts of the past. The “what ifs” still haunted her even after a decade; what if I had stayed she thought. She remembered how his brown eyes lit up when he was excited and how his laugh was deep and rich like good cup of coffee and how when he looked at her it was as if she was the only other person in the world it made her feel as if she was glowing. The knock on her door jerked her away from her thoughts. “Milo I told you I don’t want any….” She swung the door open her voice trialing off when she realized that it wasn’t Milo. It was Aidan.
He felt as if his breath was knocked out of him. There she was, she was as beautiful as ever. Her hair was longer and no longer black, it was more of a chocolate brown but when the light hit it became redder, as if her hair was made of fire. She looked at him as if he had just risen from the dead in front of her. Her green eyes held joy and pain in them. “Hi.” He smiled sheepishly. Hi that’s your great opening HI what are you thinking? She is the girl you love have always loved and all you have to say is hi you’re an idiot he thought while mentally slapping himself.
She felt as if she was seeing a ghost, a hallucination, and a mirage all in one. It can’t be him. “You can’t be here. Your not supposed to be here. What are you doing here?” she said. He stomach was doing flips and her head was spinning. This isn’t happening, this cant be happening. She studied him carefully, hoping that she was just going crazy and he wasn’t really there, but he was and he looked…. the same. He was still tall, his hair was slightly longer and he looked a little more muscular but other then that it was still him and it made her heart ache.
“May I come in?” he asked tentatively. She blinked at him. Once. Twice. Then she finally stepped aside and let him enter her apartment. Everything about it was her. There was books every where, an over stuffed leather chair and sofa dominated the living space as well as a large coffee table made from reclaimed wood, a huge window that looked out onto that famous New York skyline governed the far wall behind the sofa, but the thing he noticed the most the thing that made him smile was the fact that there were plants all over the place; her living room and kitchen looked like a jungle. There were fresh cut flowers on the tables and the mantle above the fireplace. There were ferns and fricassees sitting on the floor in pots and hanging from the celling in planters. “Since when do you like plants?” He smiled at her. Her heart started beating faster and her knees grew weak.
“Every since they remind me of someone. Would you like some coffee or tea? Or maybe some water or juice? I think I have orange juice maybe some apple juice around here somewhere. Or I have something harder if you want that. I know its only 10 am but I don’t know about you but I could use a drink.” She was heading to the kitchen as she talked. She turned to look at him the kitchen island separating the two of them.
“Coffee is good,” He stated. She gave a slight nod and began making the coffee. He watched her movements she was stiff and her movements were almost robotic. “Are you okay?” He asked wanting to hold her in his arms but stayed I where he was perched on the other side of the island.
“No I am not okay.” She pressed the button making the coffee machine whir to life. “You weren’t supposed to find me. You weren’t supposed to come after me. Nobody was.” She sighed
“I…I… Uh…” He had an entire speech prepared about why he had found her. Now he couldn’t remember it. He had kinda hoped that she would be so excited to see him that it would be like in the movies where they just get together. She wasn’t excited and this wasn’t a movie. “You changed your name.” was all he could come up with.
“That’s what people do when they don’t want to be found.” She placed the coffee in front of him. Three sugars no cream; She remembered. “Why are you here, Aidan? Why did you come looking after all this time?”
“We miss you Jaz. I miss you; I need you.”
“It’s a Anastasia now, Anya if you would prefer. Jasmine Mackie is long gone. All the people I wanted to know where and who I was I have contacted. Do you even know why I left? Why I became Anastasia Diggory?” Her gaze bore into his and made him look down at the marble countertop.
“I was slowly dying there. I felt as if I was suffocating; I wasn’t happy. I needed to be somebody different and somewhere different. The person I was back in Windport wasn’t the real me. Jasmine Mackie was sad and in pain all the time. She allowed people to walk all over her and was afraid to shine.” Her eyes were clouded with pain of the past. “The person I am now is the person I want to be. I don’t think I have ever been happier in my life. I graduated top of my class at Colombia University and now I work as a high school English teacher at The Dalton School and I love my kids. My neighbors Ms. Peterson and Her grandson Milo have become like family to me. My life here is all I ever wanted and more. I am happy.” Her expression had changed from one of pain to one of thoughtful excitement.
“What about your parents? Your friends? Me? We are all back in Windport.” He whispered.
“My parents come see me for the holidays ever year and I talked to them three times a week. Charlotte actually only lives 10 minuets from my apartment so I see her all the time in fact we have a standing brunch reservation in an hour and as for Genevieve and Kaden they come visit whenever they can. I actually just got back from Europe with them. Everybody else was toxic for me.” She let out a sigh. “As for us, well, you know we would never work. You love being in the great outdoors and you love Windport. You wouldn’t like it here and you would grow to resent me for it. I know you are going through a hard time with the divorce and that you want everything to go back to the way it was, but Aidan you don’t really love me not the me I am now anyway. You loved the girl back in Windport and even then it was the happy one you created in your head.”
“How did you know about the divorce?”
“Windport is a small town and my mom knows everybody’s business.”
“Of course she does.” He chuckled. “But I could learn to love it here, I could learn to love the real you if you would just give me the chance. You never know stranger things happen all the time. I know I want to be with you. Please Jaz… I mean Anya.”
She walked around the island and cupped his face in both hands forcing him to look into her dark green eyes. “See you can’t even let go of my old name.” She said softly. “And even if your words were true and you could learn to love me and love the city, I’m engaged.”
“Honey I’m home!” The chipper male voice filled the apartment. “Oh whose this?” Anya quickly crossed the room and gave the man a bear hug.
“Anders, honey, this is Aidan.”
“Nice to meet you.” Anders smiled and held out his hand, but Aiden didn’t shake it.
“Dose he even know you? The you that I knew; the you that you call fake?” his voice is dripping with bitterness and resentment towards the man he doesn’t even know.
“Of course I do. I know all about Windport and Jasmine. I know all about you too Mr. Zeller.” Anders spoke before Anya could reply.
“Aiden I think its time for you to go. I’m sorry you didn’t find what you were looking for. I really hope you do.” Anya stated as she ushered him towards the door.
“Just one more question: Why didn’t you ever contact me?” Aiden asked her his voice filled with pain.
“Because I loved you and I knew you would never be able to love the me I wanted to become. I knew I wasn’t for you long before I left and it hurt. It hurts just like your hurting right now because you are finally realizing the same.” She gave him a soft smile and a tight hug. “You will find happiness Aiden I know you will.” And with that she shut the dark green door leaving him in the hallway once again. Damn door he thought as he walked away. Turns out the door broke him.