Valentine’s day makes people believe that they either must be happily in a relationship or happily single. But what if you are neither? Or what if you are happy, but you still feel….sometimes…the slightest bit….alone? Did you ever feel like no one else ever feels the same way? If so, these are for you <3.
She sits on the back of a pick-up truck, kicking her feet back and forth to the lilt of Eric Church’s guitar on the radio. Her hair is tied back in a braid, but wisps escape and attack her cheeks. She glances down, watches her feet move, back and forth, back and forth. It’s a perfect day–Kentucky sky, music, and a boy that makes all her friends wince with jealousy. She moves her hands along the edge of the truck’s hatch. It makes her palms warm, but inside she is shivering. “She took her heart an’ took off down that road….” In the distance she can see her man, walking back across the park with two sodas in his hand. He smiles at her and she gives one in return–then quickly swallows and goes back to staring at her feet. Why can’t this be real? She fights the bile in her throat, fights the image of messages she saw on his phone…messages to her. Swallowing again to keep the tears back, she closes her eyes. “An’ they say you can’t take it with you when you go…” The music plays as she sits there, battling alone.
He sits in the corner of the cafe, a newspaper open on the table before him. The coffee is getting cold by now, and so is his half-eaten omelet. The others at the table match him–black veterans caps, plaid shirts, jeans, and well-worn shoes. One of them has a Mountain Dew in his hand, and the other a half-eaten donut. He sees their facial expressions and watches their lips move. Do they understand his heartache? They heard the news. They said they were sorry. A few even attended her memorial service. He sighs and glances at the newspaper, folded open to the obituaries. It is three paragraphs long and still does her life no justice. Looking up, he watches the others laugh at a political joke–heads back, mouths open, eyes sparkling. She used to laugh at his jokes, exactly the same way. He holds back the tears. How can life go on, mimicking her traits and mocking his memories….how can it go on when she isn’t a part of it? His fingers move from the cane to the printed image of her face. Caressing it, he whispers, why did you have to leave me here alone?
She leans against the doorframe. Outside, the lawn mower put-put-puts, and she can see its shadow move back and forth across the grass. It’s the second time this week. She wipes her hands on her pajama pants and debates whether to go out and talk to him. Yes. No. Maybe? Yes. Nope. Shaking her head, she walks back toward the kitchen. On the right is an open door, the light from a window beckoning to enter. She stops. Go in? Yes. No. Maybe? Yes. Just one step inside. She can see the headboard of a crib, and in the corner a rocking chair with a yellow blanket draped across the back. Sunlight dances across the words tattooed to the wall– Our Little Angel. She gasps involuntarily and steps out of the room, slamming the door behind her. Lightheaded. Dizzy. Too little air to even cry. In the background she can hear the lawnmower roaring on and on. She wishes he were inside. She wraps her arms around her stomach and imagines how he held her when they received the news. And now? He works to numb the pain…..and leaves her to face the empty room alone.
He stands on the edge of the pier, looking out over the choppy water. Ding! Ding! Ding-ding! The phone hollers from his jacket pocket. It’s her–it always is. Day in and night out she begs for a piece of his heart, for a second chance, for even just a response. He stares at his feet, then at the planks of the pier. They are aging, but between the cracks he can watch the ocean churn. Blue, green, yellow-brown–the water splashes and then recedes. His thoughts move with it. She says I love you, but so did his mother before she downed the pills. She says I won’t leave you, but that’s what his father said two weeks before the prison sentence. He watches the water move beneath the pier, fingering the phone in his pocket. To text back or not to text back….No, he decides, she can’t handle my demons….I can’t hurt anyone again. I’ll be fine…alone.
She picks up the picture, holding it by the edge as if it is poison. Years ago, she buried it in her closet..promising to never look back–promising to forget. Then, the other day, she saw him again–the same old hat, the same smile, the same charisma, the same promises of eternal affection. She remembers sitting there, laughing at his jokes about their last Christmas together. But she feels the soreness in her chest–the sign that she is breaking again. Now, she looks at the picture, the two holding hands, standing barefoot on the beach before sunrise. I can’t go back. Letting it fall to the floor, she claps a hand over her mouth. Tears. In a moment of broken rage, she crumples the picture and throws it to the trashcan. Misses by a mile. In that moment, she promises herself that she will never bleed for love again. It is meaningless. Worthless. Breaking, tearing, ripping. She slowly gets up from the floor. I gotta follow my head. I can’t walk away from You again, she prays. Even if that means I’m always alone.
Did you identify with any of these individuals? They are based on real people, and real stories. Can you hear their voices crying with your own? If you can, than guess what. You may be lonely….but you are not alone. ❤