A is for Annie from Memory House
When Annie Cross leaves Philadelphia she has no destination in mind. She simply wants to get away from Michael, to get away from a thousand subtle reminders of the love that has died a slow and painful death. For years they’d been good together; then something happened. Not one big argument; just a long stretched-out series of small slights and pointy barbs. In the end he’d moved out, taking his stuff and leaving behind a note that claimed he was sorry.
The truth is Annie was as weary of the relationship as Michael, and had she been the one to leave it might not have pained her heart as it did. But she wasn’t the one to leave. He was. He moved on and found himself a new apartment, one without stale memories and bitterness clinging to the walls. She was left behind, stuck in their old life but with a chunk of it missing.
Michael is gone and yet he isn’t. There is the razor he left on the bathroom shelf, the slippers still tucked under his side of the bed and the smell of musky cologne that lingers in the half-empty closet. Magazines addressed to Michael Stavros still cram the mailbox, and the doormen still greet her as Missus Stavros.
The irony of it was that they weren’t married. They never had been. In the beginning it was what they’d fought about most often, but in time that issue grew thin and morphed itself into countless smaller and less significant problems— a toilet seat left up, newspapers scattered across around the living room, a burnt pork chop, an unwashed coffee pot. Their complaints became unvoiced words, like bricks of resentment and anger stacked on both sides of an invisible wall.
Weekdays Annie can lose herself in work. She can dash out the door, grab a coffee at Starbucks and get through the day without reminders. But the evenings are long and weekends torturous.
She and Michael had been together for seven years, and in those years her friends got married and started raising families. Occasionally two or three couples got together for an evening out, but it was always couples and the conversation was most often about children and home repairs. Neither subject interested Michael, and he made no effort to hide his feelings. Little by little her friends fell away, and now Annie is left with a handful of colleagues at the office and a few neighbors living on the the fifth floor of the Remington Arms.
That Friday afternoon when Annie tosses her overnight bag into the back seat of the Toyota and pulls out of the garage she is hoping to forget. Little does she know this trip will be the start of remembering.