I thought I was getting to know someone else, but I was mistaken. This is all just a game for her! Though I don't want to admit it, I think I'm to be just another notch on her tally. Misery follows her like a contagious epidemic. How can she dare to call this love? I think my life is at stake!
I was too happy for my own good. Money was falling through my fingers like grains of sand. I had not cried, except tears of joy, in over two months. My mood was higher than it had ever been in my life. And it was all her fault, and I loved it.
I was too young. I was too foolish. I was too trusting.
I didn't know any better.
Overwhelmed by elation, I sought the peace and quiet of my old treefort in the woods beyond my parents' backyard. My sneakers had holes at the toes, as did my socks, and so my toenails peeked out with every step I took through the underbrush.
The air was moist and the evening summer sun was kindly dancing sidelong through the green panoply above. Soon, all would be quiet and dim.
I hoped that the same could be said for my mind. As I placed my feet upon the wrungs of the ladder steps that were nailed onto the tree side, my heart was racing as if I had sprinted all the way here. But I knew I hadn't been more than a quiet walk through the sea of ferns, sketchbook in hand.
I sighed when I got to the top, and lay on my stomach. My heart beat was flat upon the boards, slowly calming itself. This was home, far more than my bedroom ever was. And it was good to be home, if only for a few days before the next semester began.
The paper was blank in front of me, and that stark presence of nothing demanded something from me. So, I looked around.
There were trees, and behind them there were houses. I had sketched, and even painted, from this vantage point many times before. It was all too familiar, even after another year's growth and another winter's ravage.
That was why I had my binoculars with me.
The curtains were wide open. He was sitting at his computer, with a video player open. As he ran one hand through his dirty, unkept hair, the mouse moved the video back to the beginning so that he could watch it again.
There she was, on the screen. With him. In his arms. Laughing. Smiling. Kissing. Running her lips over to his ear and whispering something playful.
I touched the hickey on my neck.
He brought a hand to his brow, and his face shook as if he was sobbing. Surely, he was.
The video faded out, and then showed them at a bar with some friends. I barely recognized the local pub, as I'd only been there once. I was more interested in the datestamp in the corner, but I couldn't manage to read it no matter how much I adjusted my binoculars.
She looked younger. Her hair was shorter. This was before I'd known her. Before I had asked her out. Before I'd been told I was her first and only love.
His chair spun, and his face rested in his hands which rested in his lap. And the red-faced look of pain that contorted the face of my back yard neighbour was so hideous that I had to look away.
This was not something I could bring myself to sketch, even though it was etched into my retinas. The contempt and betrayal was tangible. I could never imagine the pain he was in.
And the video just kept playing. High school graduation. Prom. Hand in hand. Fifteen months ago, I assumed.
And the red-headed guy in the background, face covered in freckles, why was he looking so envious?
I put down my binoculars. My heart was racing once more. I had invaded someone's privacy, and it haunted me unexpectedly. But I had seen too much. This wasn't something I could just set aside.
The truth beckoned, and though I was able to turn a blind eye, I was not able to turn a blank mind.