Outside the gate was a familiar green Toyota truck.
Just inside the gate stood Michael, with a tormented expression and a bouquet of white roses.
The word on the street was that Michael had been dating in the months since he'd left. Dating a lot. Various friends had warned her they'd seen him with various women around town, to save her the shock of stumbling across him. Once Annie had been at a movie with Phoebe and saw him walking out with his arm around a younger, prettier version of herself; she'd been doing better, but seeing him with someone else felt like a punch in the gut.
Now, here he was with flowers. Apparently those other things hadn't worked out.
She stared at him, shocked, longing, pissed.
"What are you doing here? What are you DOING?"
"I miss you. I've been miserable - I try to go out with other people but I realize I'm just trying to find someone like you. I don't KNOW what I'm doing. Can I come in?"
Annie sighed, staring at the ground. "Jesus Christ, Michael - you've been jerking me around for years, now - one day I'm the center of your universe, the next I'm the reason you're miserable."
"I know. God, I'm sorry, Annie - I'm working on myself. Can we just talk about it?"
Annie WAS lonely for him, or maybe just for someone. Someone to talk to about the news, to drink coffee with and show the Sunday funnies to; someone's skin at night. And Michael's high-beam was flattering - when he loved her he REALLY loved her; she could almost believe she was the center of the universe. Lately, though, the spell was weakening.
Until he appeared on her porch.
She took a deep breath. "No. I can't do it any more. I'm finally coming to some peace, and here you are, pulling my string again. Let me get over you, Michael. You've had your chance. Lots of them. Please just go."
"I hope you'll think about it. I love you, Annie." He walked out the gate with his roses and was gone. Again.
Annie went inside and opened the refrigerator to see if there was anything edible in there. And she smiled.