The Only Mistake

The next morning, I couldn’t get out of bed. I was already running late for classes at George C. Gills, and I had missed my bus. It didn’t really seem like it mattered to go, or do anything since what happened yesterday.

I thought about the young man with the matches, and the significance of him standing there. I couldn’t place why, but I had a strange urge to seek him out…to find him and talk to him about something. Anything.

Now that I thought about it, I hadn’t spoken to another soul in what seemed like forever. Sure, there were the polite ‘thank yous’ and menial back and forth exchanges at the business college. But, I couldn’t even place the last time I sat down and genuinely spoke with another person.

I stood up, and rummaged through my closet, putting on a starched grey dress, black shoes, and a black wool cardigan. I stopped short at the mirror, didn’t even care to brush my hair, but dabbed on a bit of red lipstick to give myself a little courage.

I was going back.

There was an eerie mist that blanketed the entire city. I treaded softly through the silent cemetary, hoping at any moment to be met with my mysterious stranger.

But there was nobody here today. Not even in the mausoleum. It seemed colder than usual…quieter. I greeted my family’s names, and then stopped suddenly.

The flowers. They were gone. I pulled the container from the wall and peered inside. There was something…stuck in the bottom. I put my hand inside cautiously and pulled it out.

A match book.

It was dirty, but I could make out where it was from. Madame Pirou’s Gypsy Lounge. I’d never heard of it, but the address was strangely close to George C. Gills by at least a few blocks. I flipped open the match book, to one solitary match and an enscription: I fell in love with a girl.

Chills crept down my back, a strange, fluttering draft whipped against my skin and I felt that strange fleeting feeling once again.

I had to find Madame Pirou’s Gypsy Lounge, and maybe I would find him.

The rain began to come down softly at first, as I ran out of the cemetary, and down the sidewalk, my feet tapping along to the gentle pitter-patter of raindrops. I didn’t want to wait for a bus in the storm, so despite my dislike for being completely drenched, I made a run for home.

My skirt drooped and clung to my knees and my stockings had a tear by the time I collapsed on my porch. I silently chastised myself for not carrying an umbrella, but promised myself that I would return to my quest once the storm subsided. I stood and turned to go inside, but stopped, on the porch was a bunch of daisies tied with a blue ribbon. I stooped down to pick them up and underneath was a note.

It was the same, undeniable handwriting from the matchbook.

I see you every Sunday. How is it that you have never seen me, mourning not even a few feet away? Forgive me for being forward, but do you feel alone as well?

It wasn’t signed.

I looked down the street, behind me, but all was silence.

The rain never let up. So, I stayed inside, warm on the sofa wrapped in a flannel blanket with a cup of chamomile tea, listening to jazz records and I stared out the window. And it kept raining and drizzling and I kept watching.

And thinking.

How could I have not seen him? I guess when you create a little world around yourself, you lose sight of the world around you. It’s like trying to see through fog. You might as well be mute. You become so absorbed in your own grief and sadness and blinding loneliness, that you just…forget.

You start to not recognize the face in the mirror. You put your shoes on the wrong feet. You don’t even notice that your cat ran away months ago but you still keep putting food in his dish.

I knew what happened, what made me this way…but thinking about it, it just sends pain into my chest and I can’t breathe, thinking of those last words on that cold day before I lost it…

They’re gone, Charlotte. Dead. Your parents, your brother…Allen too…dead. Gone…

The End

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