We arrived in Normal late Friday. It was a long trip and we were tired. The best thing would have been to check into a hotel, call Emily to let her know we were there and arrange to meet on Saturday. That thought never crossed our minds.
We went straight to her parent's house.
There wasn't a place to park in front of the house but as we drove by both our hearts skipped a beat. Emily was in the front yard and saw us as we parked a few doors down. Her mother was there, too, and gave us a slight frown when we got out of the car.
Emily had on gardening gloves and held a small shovel in her hand. She waved at us right away, but we could see that the smile on her face was a false one. Still, she looked so beautiful standing there.
"You guys want some lemonade?" was the first thing she said to us and I then noticed a little homemade lemonade stand sitting in the front of her yard. It was SO Emily to do such a thing that I almost cried right there.
She showed us the flowers she had planted a few weeks back that were starting to bloom while we drank her lemonade. Lora actually dropped two quarters into the empty cup with the huge $.25 sign sitting on the stand. When her mother went into the house I asked Emily if she would go for a walk with us and she agreed.
We walked for a block without saying a word when Emily asked how things were in the community. Another block past and we stopped at the park Emily use to play in as a kid, and probably still did then, named after someone famous from Normal, Illinois who's name I can't remember. It was empty and the sun was going to be setting soon. Emily stopped and leaned against a tree, her favorite she later told us, then hooked both thumbs in her jeans pockets and gave us a, "Whats up?" look.
Lora did most of the talking. Her speech was sincere and eloquent and every word she said came from deep within both our hearts. She spoke of the pain and anger and sorrow we had caused Emily and how we realized that she was truly an equal part of this relationship and how we never really, truly understood that till we lost her. She told her how empty our world had become without her in it.
Lora's words were beautiful.
Emily's next action was one I didn't see coming. I didn't even see her hand move up. I'm sure Lora did. I'm sure she could have stopped her, and I'm sure that she didn't want to.
Lora's lip started trembling and eyes teared up immediately. Then Emily looked at me, anger on her face, and started her march forward.
I knew what was coming. I also knew that there was no way I was going to try to stop it from happening. I clinched my fists and drew in a deep breath, but kept my eyes open and locked on Emily's. I knew she wanted it that way. She wanted to look me right in the eyes when it happened.
The physical pain was intense as fuck! It only lasted for a few moments but it hurt so bad lights appeared in my eyes and my ears began to ring.
The emotional pain hurt far worse, but it also made me feel better than I have in a long time. It was like a wave of relief swept over me. I had deserved that. I had needed it! I had earned it. It also made my eyes tear up so bad that Emily started to blur, then disappeared entirely. When I wiped them I saw that she had dropped to her knees and started crying herself.
"Why did you guys do that to me!" she cried.
I dropped right down with her and Lora rushed over and joined us. We gripped Emily and each other as tight as we could with her head between our heads where it belonged. The sound of our crying was loud and uncontrollable. We three sat there with the setting sun beaming over us for what seemed like forever bawling our eyes out in a park who's name I couldn't even remember.
When Emily's arms reached up and started gripping us tight, too, we knew peace for the first time in forever.
"Please come back home with us," I begged.
"Okay," she answered without hesitation.
We three almost RAN back to Emily's house.
"Wait in the car and I'll be right back," She said.
She ran in the house and came back minutes later with only her photo albums in her hands and nothing else. When she left us she only took what she came with. When she came back she came back with only her memories of that life. Just before she reached the car she turned around and grabbed the two quarters from the cup on the lemonaid stand and yelled to her mom who was now standing on the porch that she loved her and would call when she got to Quincy.
Emily jumped in the front seat next to Lora, now with a real smile on her face, and her first words were...
"Okay, now I know we don't do vengeance, but what are we going to do to get even with that bitch, Elizabeth Raye?"
We'd spent less than an hour in Normal.