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Magnolia Parks: Chapter 68

Magnolia

I slip out in the commotion of Beej falling on the waiter and I run out of The Rosebery like it’s on fire. The room parts for me like a sea, all the people in the room moving aside, like my devastation is a disease they could catch.

I’m grateful for it. Grateful they aid my escape because I can’t see straight, can’t think straight, there’s a black hole in the centre of me and I’m giving in to it.

My best friend?

My best friend and my best friend.

It’s worse. He’s right. It is worse. Knowing her face. Was it planned? Had they liked each other a long time? Did she see him naked? Did they use protection? Oh my god, I hope they used protection.

It nearly wallops me to my knees, the idea of him being inside of her with nothing, not even a flimsy piece of plastic between them—I think I’m going to be sick—what parts of her body did he hold?

Did he think of me? Why her? And why him? Where did he kiss her? Where did her hair fall on his body? Did he hold her hand how he holds mine when we have sex? Did he look at her? Eyes open, watch her? Did he come? What was he thinking of when he did? How stupid am I that I didn’t see it? Was there something to see? How does this happen?

I’m so dizzy, I could fall. And then BJ grabs me.

I don’t know where he comes from, it feels sudden, even though it’s not—it felt like I was alone in a dark sea, adrift and suddenly there are hands on me.

He’s holding me by the arm and my waist and he’s shaking his head like mad. “Parks, listen to me—”

I shake my head, but I don’t fight him off because I don’t want to. It’s too hard. Counterintuitive. I love being touched by him; I want to be touched by him. And held by him and kissed by him and had by him and I haven’t been for nearly three years and I’ve had him for three days and now I’m losing him again and my skin feels like there’s acid on it with the betrayal—it took me so long to stave off the wildfire for him in my belly and now it’s back and it can’t be.

But I’ll douse it out however I need to, because I’ll never have him again. This is the end.

“Parks, please—”

“She’s my best friend!”

“Magnolia—listen. It’s already happened—you said you’d forgiven me, it’s still the same thing.”

“No.”

“It is! I haven’t done it again, it’s still the same—”

“No, it’s not the same thing because you fucked my best friend,” I over-annunciate. “You had me think all these years that it was some random girl, a perfect stranger, an accident, something that just happened—but you did it with my best friend.”

“Parks—”

“And we’re together all the time! We’re with her all the time! Do you watch her when we go on holidays—think about how you’ve been there—”

He looks horrified. “Parks, no. It’s—”

I look at him like he’s the stranger he feels like to me now. “How could you do that to me?”

He grabs me, pulls me in towards him, holds me tight against him and I tell myself to remember this.

Remember how this feels. Being in here, in his arms. Remember how it feels to be folded up inside his chest, how it feels to have his arms pressed against my back, where my legs fit between his, how he ducked his chin a little so I can live under there, remember all of it because this is the last time.

I breathe him in once more.

And then I rip him off me. Do it quick, like a plaster.

I’m shaking all over, my hands are trembling, my legs are jelly—

“You’ll never touch me again,” I barely say out loud but he hears it.

I pull the chain around my neck where his crest ring has lived for the better (and worst) part of a decade—snap it off my body, throwing it to the ground.

He looks up at me in a quiet disbelief. He shakes his head, moving back towards me and then he’s pushed backwards again. Not by me but by his brother.

“No,” Henry growls. BJ shakes his head, annoyed and put off, tries to push past his brother. Henry shoves him again. “You stay the fuck away from her.” Henry points at him, teeth gritted.

Beej lunges towards me but Jonah grabs him from behind, holds him against him like a seatbelt and Beej goes limp.

He stands there, watching me in his brother’s arms. He breathes out and his head swings low in a mixture of sadness and guilt. He shakes his head a tiny bit, trying to steady himself, chest heaving.

I want to touch his face, kiss the corner of his mouth, breathe with him until he’s normal again but we’ll never be normal again.

Henry looks down at me. He looks pale. “Magnolia, what do you need? What do you want me to do? I’ll do anything—”

“I need to go,” I choke out.

He nods and pulls me down the front steps.

“A cab,” he tells one of the bellman. “Now. Get her a cab.”

One pulls up in front of me and the bellman opens the door.

Henry pushes me in.

“I’m so sorry, Parks,” he tells me and his eyes are teary too.

I nod. I think. I think I nod? Maybe I don’t.

I can’t feel my body anymore, really.

Henry closes the door and I get one last look at his brother on the steps, watching me leave him.

He’s crying now, choked sobs in Jonah’s arms.

Our eyes catch, he blows some air out of his mouth, drops his eyes from mine.

Can you die from a broken heart, do you know?

And if I did and they cut me wide open, would I bleed loving him? When they lift my heart out of my chest cavity to weigh it, does it weigh the same as his top lip? Is his name carved into my third rib to the left? Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. He’s killing me. Loving him is killing me too, and I’m afraid because how many loves really, do you get in a lifetime? How many chances do you give it before you let it go?

I’m letting it go.

“Where to?” asks the cabby.

I look out the window to the city that’s filled to its brim with daydream kisses and perfect poor decisions all made with a man I think I used to know.

“To Heathrow.”


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