Standing in the empty living room, Cassie recalled how afraid she had been when she and Jace had first moved in. She had a feeling then, deep down in her gut, that she would end up living there alone – in this place that she had always hated. She reminisced about her old apartment and all of the happy memories she created there. It had been her first apartment, and she poured her sweat and tears into the old one-bedroom to make it hers. She thought about the get togethers she had there with friends and of all the new people she met while she was living there. The memories brought a smile to her face, until she thought about the first time she took Jace there.
At the time, she felt as if she were walking on sunshine. She couldn’t have sculpted a more perfect man with her own two hands. Those eyes, that smile, and the way her stomach flipped every time he walked into a room – it was pure magic. He had captivated her from the very beginning, and she had been unable to picture her future with anyone else since that day. Since then, she worked harder than she had ever worked on anything in her life. It was a constant struggle, a constant uphill battle. Day in and day out, fight after fight, smile after smile. Cassie had convinced herself that this is the way love must be when you feel so passionately about someone. Loving hard also meant fighting hard for what she wanted. “Nothing worth having is easy” became her mantra. She had been so incredibly naïve.
Cassie thought about the day he moved into that tiny apartment with her, and remembered the sheer bliss she felt having him in her bed to wake up to every morning. With a heavy heart, she also recollected the first time she came home from work to find all of his stuff was missing. She paced around the apartment aimlessly, wondering how someone could just move out without saying a word. Of course, he came back. And of course, she let him move back in. She would always let him come back; that was their pattern. She didn’t see it as a choice; she simply believed she couldn’t exist without him. The day they were moving into this now empty apartment, she lay on her bed, staring out the window, thinking to herself, I can’t do this. This is a mistake. She knew it, but she did it anyway.
Things had only escalated since they had moved into this place. The yelling grew louder, the visits from the police became more frequent, and the tears were more abundant. They were destroying each other, in the name of love. Finally the day came, as she had always feared it would, when she came home and all of his stuff was gone…again. He was gone for three months that time and it was the longest three months of Cassie’s life. She couldn’t eat, she couldn’t sleep, and her friends started to worry about the weight she was losing. Her usual “spark” seemed to be dying inside her.
Cassie told herself that if she was ever okay without him, she would never put herself through this again. But, right now, she was not okay. Right now, she just needed him to come back home. At the end of three months, he returned. Initially, it was like finally taking a breath after being submerged under water for a prolonged period of time. Something was different, though. Somehow, Cassie had grown stronger in the time they had been apart. She suddenly realized she didn’t need him after all. So, the next time they got into a fight and he spun out his truck while yelling at her, she asked him to take her home and told him to get out. She never looked back.
She had been stuck in this place until the lease was up. She walked over to the window and gazed at the green grass, trees, and abundant sunshine before her. She turned to face the living room – bare walls and cardboard boxes. She always hated this place. It always felt cold and sterile to her. It never felt like home. It wasn’t light colors and mix-n-match furniture, as had come to be her signature style. It wasn’t old creaking wooden floors that she loved so much. She recalled joking the day she signed the lease, “Today I signed my life away.” Although it was only for a year, it was getting to the point where she really felt like she had signed her life away. But now, she was free. She turned to look out the window again. Now she could re-write her own story, complete with happy ending.