A young man reflects upon the pain that he has endured for years, regretting a love that he will fears he will never find again. Mixing the internal with the external allows him
to realize that not all hope is lost.
If you feel like you could add onto it, feel free, just let me know.

Walking into my room after my shower that night, I dig for a pair of boxers and an old t-shirt in my semi-clean laundry pile and pull them on. I grab my laptop and flop back into my bed, listening to the groan as I lay all my weight upon it.  As I place her on my chest, her screen falls backwards. Poor girl, she's been loved...a lot.

            As lappy boots up, the lure of the AIM message already on the screen beckons.  I fight its siren call, determined not to lose this time.  How many times had I promised myself that it would be the end...Why did I still endure this pain?

            I should have listened to everyone that weekend that we met...I could hear their warnings in my head from the moment I saw her.  They would've told me stay away from her.  A friend of Hannah's was the last person who should catch my eye, after everything.

With hair like a sunset and eyes like a grass field after the rain, she was absolutely perfect.  She was about a foot shorter than me, but with as tall as I am that doesn't take much.  Dressed in blue spandex, she was begging for attention...though I couldn't hold that against her, my costume was made of duct tape. 

We had worked on our costumes for months and though mine was not up to the quality I had hoped it would be, they were fairly impressive. Hannah's and mine were made nearly completely out of duct tape. I was carrying my "Keyblade" a giant weapon with a base of particle board shaped like a key...there were more jokes made about how to really key a car then I can count.

Aurora made herself the star of the Anime convention that weekend, but there was a storm brewing under the surface. I saw so much of myself in her.  She was going through a rough time.  It was her birthday, and not only had her so called boyfriend not bothered to acknowledge it; he was visiting his friends on the other side of the state.  By day she was spandex clad Samus.  She ran around showing off her Styrofoam and cardboard gun while she and Hannah laughed and appeared to have fun.  By night she was Aurora...near suicidal.  What could I do?  It is my job in life to take pain from those I love....she was certainly in great pain.

            A second ding interrupts my thoughts.

            She is persistent, I can say that much for her.

            Two weeks after the convention, she was already calling.  I was out with the guys so I decided to ignore it.  Ten minutes later I heard the sound of a doorbell alert me that I had a text message.  He broke up with her.  She was worthless...useless...had no point in living.  I was out the door in three seconds flat, the guys yelling questions behind me.  They had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

            The hour drive was spent not watching the road but watching the dim light of my cell phone in my passenger seat.  I was begging for another message, she had not answered my last.  A panic rose within me and I pushed harder on the gas pedal, begging my old Astro van to go faster.  Her house was dark.  My heart kept rhythm like a metronome for my feet.  Her door beat me to the knock.  There was a monsoon in my beautiful grass fields tonight...but they were still there.

            The third ding begs for attention.  She must be lonely tonight.  Something I know all too much about.  For so many years, I have been alone, and yet still the memories draw me from my sleep each night.

            It was so long ago...a me I barely remembered.  Long before I knew any of the friends I had now.  If they had seen him I don't think they would believe it was me.  Dani was like an angel.  She put everyone she cared about before herself without a second thought.  I knew her as a church mate, a fellow volunteer, and a friend.  There was nothing more between us but a part of me questioned if that was where fate was leading us.

            Compared to her, I was a coward.  I followed my parents to church and pretended to share their faith.  I was a good little Jesus freak.  Never a real thought...Never questioning what was told to me.  I avoided helping others besides what we did at church.  For nearly two years I watched.  I listened.  I didn't let myself think.

            I don't know what it took for me to finally wake up.  If I had to pinpoint one thing, I'd say it was her.  After so long of playing her friend, I realized I loved her.  I loved her more than I ever thought I would.  But I knew I was not the man she deserved.  I was absolutely terrified, so I ran.  Instead of facing her, I stopped going to church.  I stopped seeing those friends to begin the introspection which would change everything about me.  She was my muse.

            But my muse was a moving target.  When I finally made the choice to try to look back, she was gone.  I made every effort to reverse the mistake.  I called the only number I had for her but she no longer lived there.  When I went back to the church, she had moved and most of the people who were there didn't even remember her.  She could never know why I left.  She would never understand.

            Hell, if she saw me now she probably wouldn't recognize me.

            Ding.  HAY ETHAN ARE YOU TEHRE?

            Heh. Am I here?  What can I say? 

            How often had I been "here"? So many challenges to overcome in the past and yet...still here I stand. My family roots set me forth for failure and yet still I fight. Mom and Dad drink, brother does drugs. After the fall with Dani, I chose my path...I fought so hard. In recent times, with Hannah...Aurora...the end of my fight so close in grasp, only to see it fall apart again...This is not over.

I finally decided to give in to her beckon call.

            Hi Aurora.

            Jeez, bout time! What're you doin over there, fapping?

            Ah, Aurora.  Never the right mood at the right time.

            Nope, just thinking.

            Thinking is an understatement.  Reflecting is more like it.

            It was my best friends' anniversary.  Almost two years for them...a year and a half since I was left in pieces.   I watched them, she getting frustrated because she cannot out wrestle him, then giggling as he turns a wrestling match into a tickle battle.  Something was missing inside me.  It had been about a month since Aurora's desperate call.  The guys still held it against me a bit.

            I stood silently and grabbed my boots.

            Rachel noticed first.

            "Where you going?"

            I did my best to ignore her, but she was like my sister.  As I stepped out onto the porch, I said just loud enough for her to hear, "Out...I'll be back."

            I closed the door and added, "Maybe."

            The old Astro van was being finicky that night, and fought my efforts to get it started at first.  When I finally got it going, I started driving.  To where, I couldn't begin to think of.  I needed to get away from my friends, away from a place where even when they fought I could tell there was deep love.  It had been so long since I felt that.  After I left Dani, I couldn't let myself forget her.  The memory haunted me, made me wonder if I could ever find a person that pure again. 

            I pulled the van over, barely able to see through my tears.  I was out in the middle of nowhere, hardly an idea of how I had arrived there.  Opening the door, I stepped out into the darkness.  Not bothering to notice that I had never managed to get my boots on, I walked a few feet and stared up into the abyss.  I reached inside myself to all the pain, all the loneliness, and I screamed.

            Oh yea? Thinkin bout what?

            I let my eyes trail to the window ignoring Aurura's words yet again.  The clouds caught my eye first, then the star.  One bright star like the one great memory gleaming amongst the bleak.

            It was just after school started again.  My best friends had left me there, to face the darkness on my own. Back in my parents' house, every night another weight was placed on me.  Barraged with constant expectations, false beliefs of myself, I let each thought bring me a little further into the darkness until it was all could do to leave the house in the morning. I feared letting anyone else in, and who was I to allow others to hurt for me.  Hannah called one day, just after class.  Aurora was brought home by the cops.  Another fight with her boyfriend left scars on her wrists once more. 

            I walked silently to my van, forgetting plans with what friends were left.  This time I knew the way, the place I remembered all too well.  What had begun as where it had all unraveled had become my thinking place.  I adored it for its silence.  Its isolation reflected the loneliness I held inside.  That night was different.  As I pulled onto my road, I was taken aback by the car that was pulled into my spot...and the girl sitting upon it.  There was a fleeting thought of driving on, but something made me stay. 

            I pulled off the road, shut off the van, and swung my feet onto the gravel.  She turned to look at me, but said nothing.  She had to be here for a reason, a tale of as much pain as mine.  A smile made me realize she was not afraid, and instead of climbing atop my van I took a seat next to her.  Tear trails on her face betrayed the pain she was in and I felt beckoned to know her story.

            She was Katherine...and the first time I met her made all the difference.

            Aurora, can I call you? We need to talk.

            Now, it is time that I stop pretending. It is time that I put my all into what I do. There's no turning back from this point forward, its all or nothing now.

            I heard the loud, obnoxious jingling of my ringtone and the whisper at the other end of the line surprised me.

            "Is something wrong?" She asked.

            I withhold a breath, scared for the consequences of what I know I must do.

            "Aurora, I need to talk to you.  There's so much that I don't know how to say, but for once in a long while I have to put myself first.  I can't figure out another way to do this, but I need to be away from you for awhile...maybe a long while."

            "But, why?  What have I..."

            "It's not anything that you've done.  Or at least not a single thing.  I just need some time to find my way back."

            What a time to be at a loss for words.  I hate myself for hurting her...but I would rather let her go then make her share my pain.

            "Aurora, a thousand lifetimes could not make me forgive myself for causing you pain.  You have been through so much in the time I have known you, and it's time for you to use the wings I have helped you form.  Remember that you're better than any of the men you choose to be around..." I hold back a sob, refusing to let her hear it, "I'd say I'm sorry, but it wouldn't make it better.  I...I..."

            I hung up the phone and threw it at my pillow.  Grabbing my boots I ran down the stairs and out the door to the van.  It's a good thing I didn't have to think about how to get to my place...I was refusing to think about much.

            I pull into my spot and step out into the void, climb onto the top of the van.  As much as it kills me to hurt her, I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my heart.  I find myself here alone, as I fear I always will be.  I can't help but remember Katherine.  Katherine was so different than any of the others...she made me think back to Dani in a way that she made me feel alive.  She was honest...and kind.  She was caring and her story made me realize that she hid a strong heart. Perhaps she could finally be the one to melt through these barriers which I have built around my soul.

"If I ever see her again." I say, staring up to the sky.

            "So you do want to see me again after what was said?"

            I'm afraid to turn around.  If I do, I acknowledge that she's there and that all my thoughts are real. She stands next to the van and looks up.

            "Well, if you're out here again things must've gotten bad.  If you want my opinion I'll be glad to give it, but I know you probably don't. "

            I get the nerve up to interrupt, "I let her go."

            "Really? Well than you've done it and you don't need the speech. The first step is the hardest though I suppose you don't need to hear clichéd lines to know that.  And now you're sitting out here, afraid to do anything because it might be the wrong thing.  All you know how to do right now is wait for the dawn to come...Mind if I join?"

            A small smile spreads across my face and I reach a hand down to help her onto the van.  As she takes a seat next to me and we turn toward the East.  I don't bother to put my arm around her there's time for that later.  We simply sit in silence and wait for that first light.


The End

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