And here is the deepest secret nobody knows: The root of the root, bud of the bud, she would murmur unconsciously when she stopped to think about it, which she rarely did.
Becca had decided to take Travis back.
Second chances were not in her nature, so why the change? It was probably something that sounded like love. Probably, but if you asked her, the animal, self-preservationist part of her brain would stare you down with eyes full of steel and reply matter-of-factly that she was a woman of her word and vow. Unlike some people we could name.
And so, with her mind made up and the dry, unsatisfying taste of second chance rolling over her tongue, Becca drove to the buddy’s house where she knew Travis had been sleeping these days.
A bottle of wine sat in the passenger seat (to new beginnings!), wedged under her purse to keep it from rolling as she took every sharp turn.
The buddy’s windows were dark, but she knocked anyway, predictably to no answer.
She could have called him. For the rest of her life, she would wonder how things might have been different if she’d picked up her phone and just shot off a text telling him, if not exactly where her head was at, that she needed to talk to him about something important. The rest of their lives could have been entirely different with the few taps of a screen.
But Becca, a closet Luddite who was reluctant to let go of paper maps, handwritten thank-you notes, and face-to-face conversation, felt this wasn’t something she could tell first to a machine.
So she waited, lights off, engine off, thinking only of what she would say when she saw him and how long she could keep the radio humming quietly before she killed her battery.
And when the taxi rolled up eight minutes to three in the morning, Just when she was finally letting her shoulders slump an thinking maybe she would come back that afternoon, she still didn’t let herself think anything judgmental about Travis.
Because when Becca forgave, she forgave entirely, and she locked away her resentment and passive aggression to a place inside her that she would never open. And she had forgiven Travis.
Until he lurched from the car, drunkenly extending a hand to Lucy, who rose out of the can after him and stumbled into his chest, clinging to the green wool coat Becca had given him last winter. Becca watched Travis pull away only to pay the driver, and then the two of them fell into each other again in a sloppy, obscene embrace. She watched them slouch up to the apartment building and go inside, but she didn’t wait to see the lights flick on.
As she made her way carefully home through the now icy streets, Becca opened the part of her where she locked away the things she forgave and locked something else in in its place Because now there could be no forgiveness, no amnesia of Travis’s transgressions.
Because as completely as Becca could forgive, she could just a easily never, ever forget.