The Window Seat Pt. 4 🛬✈️🛫

I remember the night I met Alice, Halloween night we were both at the same party. She was dressed as Paddington Bear, I was dressed as Cookie Monster, naturally. We spent the whole evening hanging out, and she kept stealing cookies from the bucket around my neck. I found out that she went to Western, our rival school and that she was communications major with a minor in business. I know its weird, but I knew then that I wanted to let her in. After that one night, it was impossible for me not to think about her. The night ended up with me walking her to her friend’s place and asking her if I could add her on Facebook. She laughed at me because as I later found out, she thought I was such a nerd; she says I still am. The screen in the headrest in front of me keeps switching between telling us where we are and advertising the free Wi-Fi for first class passengers. I think about asking for the code and messaging Alice. But before I get the chance, “Sir would you like the chicken or the beef? We also have vegetarian and vegan options.” I tell him that I’d like the beef. Tiia shoots me a look of surprise, we just ate, but free food isn’t something I’ll ever turn down. I made that row in University when I had to mix mac and cheese with eggs. It was the worst meal I’d ever had. “I can’t turn down food.” Tiia laughs, “None for me thank you.”

To my surprise the food is delicious, and for dessert, Tiia gives me a cookie. She can tell I’m starting to think about Alice. “Tiia, can I ask you a question?” She nods at me, “What did Tobias do? About what he thought? About Rory not loving him?”

“Tobias had done everything to push Rory away. I don’t think he did it on purpose, but he pushed because to Tobias, Rory didn’t deserve this. They sat down and talked for a very long time. From the minute I met Rory he always felt like another son. They decided that it would be best for them to take some time apart. At first, it was hard, I’d catch Tobias walking around like a zombie. He was sad, he didn’t say anything but he was broken, and it started to creep in more and more that Rory didn’t love him anymore.” I go to say something, but she interrupts, “But, and I told Tobias this, Rory loved him, and Rory always checked in with me to see if how he was doing. But I told Tobias this. You don’t give up because if you could if you did then that isn’t love.” I used to be like that, this hopeless romantic, always thinking of ways to surprise Alice, having all these grandiose ideas about love. “Tobias never gave up. Rory never gave up. Like I said, if you can let go, then it isn’t love. Now they’re married, and they’re about to adopt a child.” Their love story is messy, and I suppose that that’s how love is, messy. “Thank you Tiia.” I have an idea of what I should do. “James, it will be okay. Everything in life is a path, but I have an inkling that you know what you have to do.” I have an idea, but its life-altering. I decide that its best shut my eyes and try to nap.

ALICE

Rolling over to an empty bed can sometimes be a great thing, this morning is not one of those. I reach for James, but he hasn’t been here since February. I wish he were here, I wish we weren’t fighting, and I wish I were in his arms. It can be hard, the long distance, the time zones, this, him, he can be so difficult. Before I know it I’m crying, “I don’t know what to do… I don’t know.” I think about texting him, but I can’t do it. I text Ian and tell him I can’t come in today; I can’t be there. I make up some bullshit excuse about being sick, and he tells me to take care of myself. The apartment is so quiet, it’s like a scene from a horror movie. Even though the suns out I see everything in black and white. If he were here he would’ve made breakfast, or surprised me with coffee, he would’ve done something to make me see why I fell in love with him in the first place. I need that right now; I need to know that he’s still here not whatever he’s become. I’m looking at the first photo we took together; he was this random guy I struck up a conversation with at a Halloween party. He dressed up as cookie monster and had a bucket full of cookies around his neck. I thought he looked like such an idiot, but a cute idiot who wasn’t dressed as a nightstand or a fucking pile of laundry. We spent the whole night talking, I found out he was an archaeology major, he found out that I didn’t go to McMaster and at the end of the night James walked me home and asked if he could add me on Facebook. I laughed so hard but he was serious, he’s such a nerd, he was then and I think he still is. I hold the picture; I wish he was here.

JAMES

I help Tiia with her bags and I wait with her until Tobias comes to get her. He’s a tall blonde man with a strong bearing. We shake hands, and I help him load the suitcases in the car. I’ve been dreading this moment, its time to say goodbye. “Tiia, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you and thank you so much for listening to me.” I go to shake her hand, but she quickly knocks it away and gives me a hug. “Don’t mention it. Give me your email, I’ll send you the cookie recipe. And James, remember its all a path.” I can feel myself holding back tears, I stand there waving for what feels like forever. When I finally find myself willing to get a cab, I turn my phone on. There aren’t any messages, but for the first time that makes me happy.

ALICE

I’ve been sitting on the couch for a few hours, I feel like a bum. Not even Luke wants to cuddle with me. He just sits there on the opposite side of the couch watching television. “Come her Luke!” His ears perk up and looks at me, that look means no. Stupid dog, I get up and head to the shower. The warm water feels so good until I notice one of James’ body wash bottles. I take it and open it, it smells like him, and it makes me miss him even more. I stand there like a crazy person sniffing the bottle when I hear Luke bark.

JAMES

As I fumble with the keys, I can hear Luke barking. I haven’t seen him in so long, I rush to open the door. He jumps on me and starts licking my face, “Oh I missed you too buddy.” The bathroom door opens, and Alice comes out, she doesn’t say anything. Luke paddles over to her and she scratches behind his ears. It’s time.

 

ALICE

I guess Luke didn’t like the way I smelled, he comes over to me as soon as I leave the bathroom. I scratch behind his ears; James hasn’t said a word. The calendar says he was coming back at midnight not noon. Unless I read the calendar wrong. He can tell I’m confused, “James.”

JAMES

She misread the calendar I can see it from the confused look on her face. She always does this, but to be fair, we haven’t been talking today. I usually send her a text before I leave, but obviously, I didn’t do that today. She’s standing there in her towel, “James” I hold my hand up to her “Alice.” She stops, “You misread the calendar didn’t you?” She nods, “I knew it.” I take a step forward; I can tell she’s been crying. “Ally, I know you have no reason to believe this, but I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for the fighting, just sorry for everything. This isn’t easy for me to say.” She comes over to me and takes my hand, and we move over to the couch. “Tell me,” she says. “I’m not happy anymore. I’m not happy with the fighting, but I’m not happy with myself. I don’t want to be away from you anymore, I don’t want to be a professor anymore, I don’t want to be on a fucking plane 32,000ft in the fucking sky for hours at a fucking time. Babe, I’ve been having panic attacks and this is the result. I’m not happy, and I’m sorry I’ve kept this to myself. I just don’t want you to think that any of this is your fault…” She grabs my hand and wipes the tears away from my face. I know what I have to do, I take her hand, and I get up off the couch. “Alice I love you, more than anything in this world and I want you to know that I’ll never keep something from you again. I also don’t want you to let go.” I put my other hand in my pocket and get down on one knee. She’s let go of my hand and cups them over her mouth, “Alice King, I promise to never hurt you, never keep anything from you, and to love you for the rest of my life. I promise that I’ll never let go of you no matter how hard it gets. I promise that I’ll see someone about the panic attacks. I promise that we do find ourselves apart from one another that I’ll always come back to you because you are where my heart is You’re home.” She’s crying, and Luke’s come over to make sure she’s okay. To think once upon a time, she didn’t love him. “Alice, would you marry me?”

ALICE

“I will be here. Every. Step. Of the way because I love you. Yes, I will marry you. ”

JAMES

“It was on a plane ride where I knew I had to ask Alice to marry me. I’d struck up a conversation with a woman, and she told me about the struggles her son faced. When I envisioned this day, I always saw Alice next to me, and I’m proud to call her my wife. I don’t know if I’d have the courage, to ask her for it, not for Tiia Grandlund. What she said to me will forever resonate with me, and it’s the reason we’re all gathered here today.” I raise my glass, “Unfortunately Tiia passed away a few months ago, but I know she’s somewhere looking at us all.” I can see Tobias wipe a tear away from his cheek, I give him a smile because it’s the only thing I can do. “You don’t give up because if you could if you did then that isn’t love. Those were the words that got me here today. Those are the words.” I turn to Alice, “Those are the words that will keep me loving you for the rest of my life.”