When I think about Neal leaving Emma behind, I find that I have made peace with that, with why he did it. But I find that now, after all this reflection upon that time in their story what really kills me is what comes next. The fact that after receiving the keys to the Bug, Emma clearly takes that as some sort of signal between the two of them. So much so that she travels to Tallahassee and proceeds to live there for two years. That’s two years of waiting, of expecting—and, I think, of searching for Neal.
I don’t see that as the sign of a person who thinks they’ve been truly abandoned. I see that as the sign of a woman who believes in her partner. Believes that he will come for her, that circumstances were extenuating, and that him sending those keys meant more than a cherry on the top of a kiss-off.
But, even as much as Emma doing that presses all my agony-of-love buttons, the fact that Neal doesn’t also go to Tallahassee (or try to re-connect with her in another way pre or post-Curse) is what really makes me hide my tears in a nearby pillow. That’s a man that you can say doesn’t care, or you can say is still under the sway of August’s threat/words. But I say: that’s a man who has so little faith in anyone’s love for him that it probably never occurred to him that she would do that, that she would go there—that she would be looking for him, or wanting him.
That’s a man who really thinks his love is better off without him, and will not suffer very long at his loss.
He should never have done that.
He should never have sent the money (which never got there) or the car keys. It made the hurt worse. It gave Emma hope, that they would again be together. Hope was what sent her to Tallahassee. For two more years (on top of her sentence) it kept her further from being able to move past Neal.
I want her to tell him this. I want him to hear that she spent two years of her life in Tallahassee. I want him to learn that she had that much faith in him, that much belief and understanding in her partner: that he would not simply turn her over to the police for no reason. That he would not casually abandon her.
Because, you see: Emma was right. Neal didn’t leave her on a whim, he didn’t leave her for nothing. He didn’t abandon her merely to take the fall for his crime.
And she knew he wouldn’t.
That’s not being a doormat; having faith in your partner. That’s knowing another person intimately, understanding what motivates them and seeing into their heart.
Emma was right.