Rain lashed the bus stop as I huddled in the corner, mostly dry. It was a miserable night which matched my mood perfectly. I was miserable, had been miserable for days. Sunday had been bad but that hadn’t been the start of it. If I was being completely honest with myself, I had been miserable for weeks.

Life had gotten all too real as it had done several times over the last couple of years and all over the same thing really. My boys. Sunday was when I left them and I had fallen apart as I moved my things into my new home. Slowly but surely. I had smiled and joked with my friends who were helping me, pretended I wasn’t embarrassed by how little I had to move. I had kept a smile on my face, had managed to keep all my fear, my doubts, my sorrow tamped down.

Until I had unpacked a photo of my boys. Then I had fallen apart. It was a small mercy that only Tyler was with me when it happened. Well actually he had been in the tiny kitchen, clearing up after we’d eaten the pizza he’d bought.

“All done,” Tyler’s voice preceded him. “What next sweetheart?”

I had been sobbing too hard to answer and he’d found me doubled over on the edge on my bed, the photo clutched to my chest. He’d tried to hold me, to comfort me and I’d turned into a screaming banshee. Had pushed him away, screamed at him to leave me alone. He’d watched, care and concern obvious on his face, his green eyes steady and full of an emotion I couldn’t name as he assured me it was alright.

But it wasn’t and it never would be again. I would never see my boys every day, make them breakfast, kiss them before they left for school. I wouldn’t be there when they ran inside, eager to tell me about their day. All of which I knew, and had reconciled myself to. At least I thought I had. The boys had seemed fine with it, excited at the prospect of sleeping somewhere different, full of stories of friends who had two houses, their easy acceptance a balm to my battered feelings.

Feelings which had chosen the worst possible time to explode. I had screamed at Tyler to leave me alone, that I didn’t need him when he said he’d be back to take me to work. He didn’t understand. Why couldn’t he see that I wasn’t worth his time and effort, why couldn’t he see how broken I was, that I didn’t deserve him? He had left after insisting that I call him when I was ready to talk.

Four days later I was yet to call, hadn’t replied to any of the texts he had sent. I was mired in my own misery, missing my kids, missing Tyler, missing the me that had been almost happy for a time. I watched the lights of the bus approach and knew I wanted to get that version of me back. So life was tough, this was no surprise to me. I exchanged comments about the weather with the bus driver then took a seat and watched the streets pass as I considered  my options.

It was only a short bus ride and before I’d made any real decisions I was walking into my workplace. I waved at Duncan then headed to the break room to stow my bag and wait for my shift to start. There was basket of apples on the table with a big ‘Eat Me’ sign and a couple of calico bags. That gave my idea some clarity and I selected several apples and made use of one of the bags then stowed it in my locker.

I sat down and pulled out my cell, read through the texts Tyler had sent me over the last few days. Asking if I was okay, saying good morning and wishing me sweet dreams. He deserved more than my cold silence, even if I didn’t feel like I deserved him. He had been persistent and insistent that he wanted me in his life. Who was I to tell him what he needed? My hands shaking, I sent a text:

Dinner tomorrow, see you at 7pm?

It took less than a minute for his reply to come in:

See you then.

I stared at that reply, trying to read more into those three words. Was he happy to hear from me, was he looking forward to it? An alarm buzzed and I set my cell to silent and slid it into my pocket then went to join Duncan behind the counter. I tried not to dwell on Tyler’s brief reply or the fact that for the first time my cell didn’t vibrate with a ‘goodnight’ message as it usually did around midnight.

Instead I thought about the apples and the apple pie I would make with them, thought about what else I’d cook to impress Tyler. This would be the first time I would cook for him and I wanted to impress . The night passed slowly, the bad weather keeping people home, so by the end of my shift I had my menu planned, a shopping list written out and, most importantly a positive outlook. At 6am I walked out into a bright new day, the sun making a triumphant return and banishing the rain clouds. It was a good sign, a positive omen. I hoped Tyler was ready for the new improved me. I knew I was.