Ten years later.
In that span, many things changed. I failed out of college because I spent too much time with Troy, addicted to the way he made me feel. My mom constantly pestered me, wishing I’d chosen someone with more ambition. I swatted away her comments and caring touches because the Knot was gone. The Knot was gone.
My mom passed away, followed shortly by my dad. It took everyone by surprise. My brother moved to New Zealand and cut off communication with me, for no other reason than to leave it all behind. To leave the mess he called “sister” behind.
Throughout those ten years, I rubbed that left sleeve. Right where Troy touched it. I rubbed it so much it became faded, and later developed a hole.
We got married.
My parents never got to witness it.
My parents wouldn’t have been proud.
The Knot returned.
Most days, I hid in my bedroom while Troy went to work at the local shop where we got milkshakes that first time. Little did I know it’d be the most exciting thing we ever did. When he came home, he drank beer and fell asleep on the couch. We never slept together any more. Perhaps I shouldn’t have given it to him that first night.
Sixteen, when the snow globe feeling returned.
Christmas was approaching, so the next day I tried something new. I got up early, brushed my hair, and made breakfast. Bacon and eggs, very simple but universally loved. Like me.
“Chicken Legs, did you brush your hair?” His voice almost sounded like it used to. When he’d tease me yet still let love saturate his tone. These days, the love portion had been gone. He just emotionally beat me. Responding to him no longer made me feel good. Perhaps it never had, but who could know at sixteen? Who could really understand the world?
I ran to the closet and pulled out the fabric tucked away, the one folded near the shoes. Throwing it over my head, I smiled down at the faint milk stain from years ago. I poked my thumb through the left sleeve hole. Giggled at the simplicity and memories it brought.
“Why’d you bring that thing out?” Troy asked. “It’s tight on you now.”
“You kissed me in this,” I reminded him.
The red sweater resembled so much. A time of terror of doom, a time of hope and a future. Now it was neither. It clung to my body like a prisoner with nowhere to run. Like it, too, wanted to be free of me.
I rubbed the fabric, remembering the way my mom felt when I snuggled in close to her. Why didn’t I listen to her?
Please, let me try again. Let me shake the snow globe this time. Let me poke the little villages.
I didn’t realize that those days, blissfully waiting to discover the world, would be the best days of my life.