The Door

Avid

Uncertainty was her only certain emotion at the moment. Delphine stood stoic and still outside the familiar house, just a few steps away from the front door. She had been here plenty of times before, in her youth, and what to her, seemed like an imaginary lifetime ago. Her fingers nervously fidgeted with the hem of her shirt, unsure of what next to do with her hands. She had options: she could knock, or perhaps ring the doorbell, neither of which put her at ease. Instead, Delphine lit a cigarette. She turned her back on the house to face the street and inhaled her first drag of smoke, while closing her eyes. The taste lingered until it left her mouth dry, then travelled down her throat, finally coating her lungs in a warm blanket. Once she exhaled, she felt much noticeably lighter. She could do this, she thought, as she squeezed her eyes closed tighter, she could —

“Delphine, is that you? Hey, Delph!”

Delphine’s eyes fluttered open confused, as she dropped her cig. Shit, she muttered under her breath, while using the tip of her boot to smash out the ashes. When she finally looked up, there leaning against the old wooden mailbox was a familiar face she once called friend. Delphine attempted a sardonic smile, and waved him over excitedly, “It’s been awhile, Oliviero.”

He scoffed playfully, while walking up the driveway and towards Delphine with his arms open, “Oliviero huh? Who am I, my father?”

Delphine laughed and hugged her old neighborhood best friend, “I would have never recognized you, Oli. With your tie and suit! When did you become so serious?”

Oli took a step back away from Delphine, her shoulders still in his hands, to get a better look at her up close. He wanted to answer, “When you left.” But immediately decided against it, and instead responded with, “What are you doing back? Never thought we’d see you again.”

Delphine noticed the masked pain in his voice, and put her hand over Oli’s. She gave the back of his hand a small squeeze before both his arms dropped back to his side. Solemnly, Delphine answered instinctively with the first thought that came to her mind, “I never thought I’d be back either. Not — not, after Finley… well, you know.”

Oli winced at the surprising mention of Delphine’s deceased twin brother’s name. He managed a small forced smile, and rubbed the scruff on his face out of habit. Of course he knew, everyone knew, it was the tragedy of their small town. He could sense Delphine’s growing discomfort and redirected the conversation, suddenly realizing whose house they were lounging in front of, “So have you kept in touch with Catherine then?”

Delphine laughed nervously, and dodged his stare. She could hear the teasing in Oli’s tone of voice. “Not as much as I should have, apparently. What about you?”

“I’m actually working for her father’s firm, now.” Oli paused, and watched Delphine sway side to side, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. He wondered what she was thinking about. He wanted to ask, but he didn’t want her to shut him out so soon… again. However, he wanted answers, and he knew how to coax Delphine into giving them. “She’s getting married, you know.”

At this, Delphine perked up, a pang of pressure in her chest waiting to erupt, and met Oli’s crystal blue eyes. So it was true? Oli hesitated for a moment in the silence, and then asked what he had been itching to ask since the moment he saw Delphine, “She’s why you came back, right?”

Delphine opened her mouth to protest, to reassure herself she was only back in town to salvage her brother’s possessions before her mother sold her childhood home — but nothing came out. Instead, the creaking sound of the front door opening, interrupted the stillness, and Delphine heard Cat’s voice for the first time in three very long years.

“What the hell are you doing with her, Oli?”

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