Layla closed her eyes and laid her hands flat on the paper. It felt like her feelings had just been thrown into the washing machine, now churning and tumbling about. How could Emily do this to her?
“What’s wrong?” Winter’s voice asked.
Layla opened her eyes. Winter landed on the fruit bowl, balancing on an apple. Layla wrinkled her nose. “That’s not very hygienic, you know.”
Winter looked down at her feet, at the apple. “Why not?”
“Your feet have been outside, and now you’re standing on food that someone might eat.”
Winter just gave her a confused look.
“Never mind.” She would remember to wash the apple when Winter had gone again.
“So what’s wrong?” Winter asked again. She held a piece of dried apricot in her hands, parts picked off that she’d eaten.
“How do you know something’s wrong?”
“You’ve got that look.” She bit into the apricot.
“You’re far too perceptive sometimes, you know?”
Winter swallowed, and grinned.
She wasn’t going to let it go, so Layla explained, “Emily’s coming back. Her job placement’s over. She wants to meet me in a few days.”
A moment of heavy silence as Winter absorbed the words, and understood what they meant. All her thoughts passed over her face. She was a very open person, or fairy, rather.
“Are you going to meet her?”
Absently, Layla ran her fingers over the letter. “I don’t know. I want to, but I’m not sure my heart can take it.”
Winter fluttered over to land on her hand. Up close, the concern in her eyes was obvious. “I don’t want to see you hurt again,” she said. “Don’t go if it means that.”
She smiled sadly. “I’m hurt anyway. Even this letter, it’s so much of a reminder. I handled it all badly, and I feel embarrassed and ashamed about it.”
“You shouldn’t,” Winter said. “She should for the way she left you. You were hurt. We all get hurt.” A hint of her own pain played in her voice.
“I know we do. And she could have dealt with it better as well, but I clung so hard to the relationship, I’m not surprised she left me like she did.” Tears threatened to fall, burning her eyes, and her throat started to close.
Winter flew up to her shoulder and put her arms around her neck. The closest thing to a hug she could give. “It was mean. I don’t like mean. I don’t think you should go.”
Layla looked down at the letter again. No, she probably shouldn’t go. But her heart was pulling her towards the words, towards the woman who wrote them. Maybe all she needed was closure, and then she would be free. Maybe just to see her one last time, to prove to herself that she was over her….