Christmas had always been a huge affair in our house. We would all gather around the open fire opening gifts from each other, laughing, talking. Half of our neighbourhood were invited for lunch each year. Included the Nelson family who lived next door.
The Nelson family consisted of Marjorie, David and their son Scott. Scott and I had become very close after they had moved in.
I still remember the first day I saw him. He looked so goofy with this dark hair flopping down over his glasses, but I waved and he smiled. I was 14 years old. And in that very moment, I fell in love with that smile.
The three years following that first meeting, we were inseparable. He would do adorable things like leave little messages under my car windscreen wipers, or bring me flowers he had stolen from Mr Reinbeck’s garden. We were the teenage dream.
Shortly after my 17th birthday, Scott told me his dad had got a new job and they were moving away. We spent all night in each other’s arms, laughing, talking, and crying. That was the night we made love. It was the first and only time we were together in that way. He was the one who got away.
And here I was, 28 years old, single, and back at my mums for Christmas. My family situation had become strained after I moved to the city and I don’t visit half as much as I should.
I took a deep breath and turned the door knob very slowly. A familiar bark came from the hallway.
“Rusty!” I yelled! I large, very old and slightly overweight Labrador came bounding at me in the best way he could, laying slobbery kisses all over my face. He was one member of the family I would never have a strained relationship with.
“Hello Darlin’” My mom’s southern twang was a comforting tone, my unease began to subside. I walked over and gave her a hug.
“I’ve put fresh bedding in your old room for you.”
“Thanks mom.” I smiled and toddled myself off to my room down the corridor.
“There are some things of yours we found in a box in the attic on your nightstand sweetie.” She yelled after me.
‘Maybe a little nostalgia couldn’t do any harm’ I thought to myself. I sat down on the end of my bed. My favourite patchwork blanket folded neatly on the foot of it.
The shoe box was set on the small oak table next to the bed, its memories and secrets drawing me in. Slowly I opened it and began to rifle through it. I pulled out my old diary first.
Almost every entry was of something Scott and I had done. I laughed as the memories of seeing terrible movies and sitting down by the lake ‘til dawn brought a tear to my eye. I set it down beside me, pulling out all manner of tokens from my childhood.
I pulled out a carved wood keychain in the shape of a heart Scott had given me before he left. I held the chain close to my chest and closed my eyes as I recollected his deep blue eyes, and the sorrow I saw in them as he glared at me from the back window of their truck as he drove out of my life forever.
I had almost forgotten how intense our feelings for each other had been. As I had grown older, I had put my feelings for Scott down to a childhood crush, but now, I was truly starting to remember how real it was.
I pulled a neatly folded piece of paper from the box and carefully unravelled the pristine creases. It was dated two weeks after Scott had left.
To My Life, My Love.
I am lost without you.
These last three years have been the happiest of my life.
As soon as I am finished school I am coming back for you.
I filled up a little as I read the words. He seemed wise beyond his 17 years. I remembered how he wrote me for six months or so after he left. But I guess life moved on as it does, and after a while we lost contact. I never realized it until this moment, but I had never truly loved anyone since Scott. I sighed as I placed the things back in the box, deciding to read the other letters later, before I depressed myself even further.
I wandered back down the hallway where my mom was dithering around the tree collecting crackers from it.
“Come on now Layla, we are about ready to eat.” She scorned. I followed her into the kitchen, staring at my feet contemplating what I had achieved in my 28 years. I had expected to be married with a baby by now.
The noise from the kitchen was awfully loud for what should have been no more than 3 people, my mom, dad and sister. There were voices I did not recognize. The curiosity sparked my interest and I decided to stop wallowing and just enjoy my lunch.
“There’s that smile I have missed” a deep handsome voice rang out. Before I had time to identify the face that belonged to the voice I found myself wrapped in a hug.
“It’s been too long.” I pulled away and looked up at this tall man with the designer stubble. I wouldn’t have recognized him if it wasn’t for those bi, blue, soulful eyes.
“Scott!” I exclaimed and wrapped my arms around him once more.
“What are you all doing here?” I must have sounded like a crazy person.
“Marjorie called me a couple of weeks ago to say they were visiting town, so I invited them for old times’ sake.” My mom answered.
Lunch was interesting; I sat staring at Scott through the entire meal, only averting my eyes when I thought he noticed.
“I think I’ll get some fresh air” He said standing up from his seat. “Care to join me Layla?” I had never answered a question as quickly in my life as I got up and followed him out to the yard.
“So, long time no see huh?” he said.
“I’ll say. Funny I was just thinking of you.”
“Really.” He replied smirking. “You know, I have a chance to move back out here with work, but now you’re in the city, there’s really nothing else worth coming back for.”
There was no way I was letting him go again. I moved in close enough to him to whisper in his ear.
“You know I do miss the fresh air out here.” And then I did something entirely out of character. I threw caution to the wind and kissed him. It felt right, I felt like I was a teenager on that park bench again.
We spent the rest of the day laughing and catching up, so much had happened, but I wasn’t worried, we had the rest of our lives to get to know each other again.
“Come and help me wash the dishes Layla.” Taking on the teenager role fully I rolled my eyes at the comment and got up to help.
“Did good didn’t I?” mum winked at me as she handed me a dish to dry.
I will never know if Mom’s plan was to get me to move back out there, or to get Scott and I together, but the truth was it didn’t matter. She had done good!