Words from my childhood stopped us at the front door.
How it begins is how it goes.
It was cracked and faded. Chipped and forgotten in so many ways. Everly traced the letters with her finger. “Who wrote this?”
“Vandals. Damn vandals. You’d think in a nice area like this, we could avoid such pointless crime.”
“Callum Andrew,” she warned.
I sighed. “My mother wrote it.”
“I don’t know. It’s just something she and my pop used to tell us as kids.”
“It kind of reminds me of something.” Everly turned to me. “One of my nurses gave me a box of paper dolls for my birthday one year. Do you know what those are?”
“Yeah, my sister had them.”
She smiled. “I liked the idea of those dolls. You could just snap their lives on them, and if they wanted something new, something different, you just chose something else, and suddenly a little girl was a business woman or a cheerleader. I started to think about life like that, how interchangeable we all are. When I first met Truscott, he was about to have his millionth surgery. And all I could think as I watched him was, if I could just snap off my heart and give it to him, he’d be all better. But it’s never going to be that easy. I was born with hopelessness, and, chances are, Truscott will die with the same hopeless feeling. His mother will endure that same hopeless feeling.”
I tutted, jokingly. “You have too much doubt in my ability to steal your heart, Everly Anne.”
“That,” she said, turning away, “is so very untrue. If anything, I believe too much in your ability.”
“Good to hear, as I am one skilled man when it comes to stealing the hearts of pretty girls.”
“Oh, are you?” She laughed.
“No,” I replied. “Not really.”
“I do doubt that.”
We stared at the door for a moment.
Everly finally asked, “So, how do we begin, Callum Andrew?”
“Hmm,” I thought. “How about with our first day of freedom. We start with freedom.”
“Freedom,” she echoed. “Freedom sounds like a dream.”