The wet air is drifting through the screens of the open windows and taking my mind away with it.
I close my eyes to imagine the mud squishing between my toes like it did on the banks of the river when I was a child. I love the way the cool, soft mud felt on pavement burned summer feet when pleasure was all I knew.
My brother and I, inseparable as we were, would make our way down to the river to start the day’s adventure to the edge of the scary man’s property where the clay deposits lie. Hours would roll by there like the gentle gurgle of the water over the rocks. To be caked with clay was the trophy of the work we had put into that day’s creations of tiny vases and pots that we brought home with beaming faces. Nothing was ever ugly or imperfect in our eyes.
Back at the house, we would hose off in the yard and hang off the porch to snack on the watermelon as the pink juice dripped down our chins and arms into the grass below–the reward for a long day of creativity. After dinner, as the sun went down, our old sippy cups doubled as lightning bug traps as we lept around the dewy lawn after them.
Happy memories from the river run through my mind to take me away for a moment from my desk and the work in front of me to the reed-lined wonderland of my youth.
Moonlit shadows stripe the pages of a heart laid out in letters on the desk at the corner of the bedroom. She lies awake wondering what she used to dream for in her future prince charming.
She never thought to wish for practical things like honesty or loyalty because to her every tall, dark, handsome man was just like her father. Little girls like her, fortunately, do not yet know that not every strong embrace comes with the intentions for good. All they want is the magic of happily ever after without all the work and heartache of reality.
It’s no longer the evil stepmother or a dragon to combat because humanity is the thing to ruin it all. People just make mistakes that ripple out over the heart to change it from the idealist to the ideal. The man she continues to put on a pedestal beside her as a dream come true was, after all, simply a man, no matter how charming he may be just as she is no longer a princess awaiting rescue from her nightmares.
Her slate was not clean.
She carries with her the wounds of the past like battle scars, faded but noticeable when you looked hard enough. Some days she bares them with pride and others are a desperate attempt to keep them veiled by smiles if only to trick herself into believing she is fine. Just fine.
He loves her all the same and she loves him too.
Perhaps it is the curve of her hips in those tight jeans that makes the boy want to hold her against him again late at night as the wind turns colder. That bitter nip in the air makes the boy regret leaving her loving arms and realize just how much he lost in letting her go. The snowflakes glide gently to the ground like her tears did months ago when he didn’t care to watch.
Time and trips to the local coffee shops have mended what once was torn of her paper heart.
Time and house parties with one girl after the next have slowly torn his open.
Past the walls he had built against her, lies what could have been, and it is crushing. She spent months trying to piece together a ladder of her own strength to peer over the ledge, only to fall back down to the ground with an unsatisfying thud where he was supposed to catch her.
When the distracting noise of the day quiets to let the lonely silence of night slip over the world, he cries for her–her body pressed against his and the way her hands used to search for his in the dark. How hollow it must feel to fall asleep without the warmth of a lover who would have made him her world.
She buys that little white dress with such hope for the places she may go in it, the handsome men that will kiss her in it, and the rainstorms she will dance through. She never imagined the rain would turn to a deadly storm that she would be trapped in.
The see-through cotton clutches to her body as the wind rises and the rain pours harder. A summer of loving turned bitter as these storms of fall roll through. She never knows when she steps into his arms if the sun will shine and he will gently brush the straps from her shoulders, or if his thunder is going to shake her bones as she stands shivering in that thread bare gown.
Instead of the wild romance she had dreamt of, this was a roller coaster she was now locked into. Little did anyone know, she was ready to leap from that ride, even if it meant staining that tiny white dress red.
It is here in the dark, after half of the world has gone to sleep, that the magnitude of this decision weighs its heaviest.
You are gone.
Which means once more I am alone. So many take pride in standing alone, and, don’t get me wrong, I can. I just don’t want to. Your shirt from the other day was left laying on the floor, so I picked it up to breathe you in. How long will you stay here in spirit before your sent turns to mine from nights spent clutching you to my heart in some desperate attempt to feel your heartbeat again.
The answer is never long enough.
We were awful with each other and amazing, the best and worst of passion. I was drawn to you like bad habits always do. That honey on the tongue that leaves me wanting more until the bite came leaving me hesitant and frightful, yet I never stopped wanting that honey.
So wild. So raw.
Both of us were young, but I knew I was asking too much of a boy who had barely seen the world.
Nobody ever tells you how lonely it is to grow up. Dreams become what may have been and the friendships you swore would last forever have dribbled into coffee dates once every three years. All the passion for adventure is tempered by the reality of responsibility until years have flown by and that spring break banger never happened. You exchange tequila for rosé and the woos over loud bass for a gentle conversation to soft jazz. It all looks so glamorous to those who aren’t yet there, but you can’t go back once the longing sets in. Everything just gets lost in the noise. I am becoming lost in the noise.
I lay here wondering what I dreamed for my life as a little girl–surely not this. We were going to change the world. My partner would be kind, gentle, and fun as well as handsome and charming. I wonder when I let the fairytales go. A part of me still yearns for it, but the realist in me stomps at the coals of the fire in a desperate attempt to stop being disappointed. Love is such a loaded word, meant to stave off the loneliness, yet it seems like all it does is dress it up in that pretty mask of noise.
I spent the week away pondering.
You. Me. Life.
It’s heard to breathe when I am caught in the hurricane of you, let alone understand that I was drowning. This time I understood it wasn’t my fault that you were forcing me under, but it was my fault that I had stopped fighting. You fight for me, but not with me because you would rather just walk out the door. Next time I wont stop you, because the ache in my heart when you leave is growing dimmer with every piece of blame you’ve piled on.
I deserve more. I spent the week away, learning how not to miss you.
I’ll still be that sweet girl you love, but it’s time you learned how to coax the syrup from a lady rather than drinking her dry. In an age of easy loving, I led you to believe I did not need to be wooed. I got too used to picking myself the flowers I love so much. Never could I imagine the dull ache a droopy set of wildflowers could eventually bring. Now the chill of fall allows us to recess into our lonely households to wait out the winter with mediocre love until the passion of summer can awaken our fires again.
But for now, I’m tired, so learn to love me right or leave me alone.
The more I say those three words, the more I mean it.