A Single Step

There’s something strange and addicting about that new apartment smell. I’ve only known it a few, sweet times in my life and one not so sweet time. It’s a thrilling mixture of sweat, hard work, excitement, and nervous jitters.

I gaze into the large open space, watching as the movers lug around boxes, taking some into the kitchen, others down the hall leading to the master and guest bedrooms. My eyes travel down to the doorway. I’ve yet to take that last step inside. The step that will end one chapter and begin another. It’s silly thinking that has the corner of my mouth twitching as I tuck loose black strands behind my ear.

“Hey, how’re they doing in here?” Garry’s arm drapes over my shoulders, pulling my gaze from the doorway. His eyes follow the workers moving about the apartment.

“Nothing’s broken yet, so I’d say they’re a-ok in my book.”

Garry chuckles and my smile is no longer a small twitch of the lips but whole. I look around him for the third member of our family but I find him alone.

“Where’s Dani?”

His smile falls away, and a rigidness sets over his body as the light and playful atmosphere that had been around us evaporates. The sunshine water falling in through the tan curtains no longer seems as bright as it was a moment ago.

“Dani’s going to be staying with a friend.”

My brows knit together. “What do you mean, ‘staying with a friend’? She’s old. The sooner we bring her here, the better. She can get used to the space.”

He sighs and my stomach twists as the fine hairs at the base of my neck stand on end. The sigh holds everything as flashbacks flood my thoughts. A man’s sigh, a woman’s pitying look, apologies that held nothing but irresponsibility and a child’s disappointment.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this Abs,” he says.

“What?” I flinch at how harsh the word comes out, but it does little to stop me from moving away from him. Another step away from the apartment.

“I’m getting rid of Dani. She won’t be coming, there’s just no way we can-”

“Are you serious? Getting rid of her? Garry, she’s not some-some-“

“Animal? She’s a cat, Abby, I doubt it’ll really matter to her.”

“She’s just a child, she’ll get over it.”

“I doubt she’ll even remember this.”

“How can you know that?”

“Abby-”

He reaches for me, but I take another step back, arms curling around my waist for comfort; for strength. I was trained in this for years as a child.

“You’ve had Dani for years, Garry. Of course she’ll know.”

If you can so easily get rid of her, what does that say about me? Am I just as easily left behind?

“I’m sorry, but we’ve changed our minds.”

I give my head a hard shake, forcing the phantom voice out.

“You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

I look in at the workers, their movements slow now as they listen in. My eyes fall to the doorway; the single step that would have changed it all.

“Sorry, Garry, I don’t think this will work out.”

How does it feel now?

I walk away from the apartment, never looking back, only forward.

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