Tag Archive | David

David

You know what I found this morning, in a long-unopened compartment of my wallet? It was a letter from you, dated several years and a lifetime ago. Tucked into the folds were three balayong blossoms, dry and fragile from being pressed for so long. You loved me then, I remember. You recorded these promises for posterity, so that I can read them over and over again and know what I meant to you. And then you changed your mind.

Dammit, David. How can I still be hurting over this now? People’s hearts get broken every day. People get left behind, and people move on. So why the heck am I here, plenty of time and plenty of adventures later, crying over sheets of paper that no longer hold anything real? It’s not like I spent my days wallowing in heartbreak. Eventually, I stopped missing you or even thinking about you. I loved, I laughed, I engaged. I did things that matter. I grew up a little every day, and I stopped wanting you back. You are no longer a part of my life — most of the time.

But some days just catch me off guard. It could be the little details, like the sight of my own palm, messy with squiggles and lines whenever I write with a ballpoint pen. I can almost hear your exasperated laugh,  almost see you trying to figure out why the ink that should have landed on paper ended up on my hand instead.  Or it could be the big things, David, the wounds received in the process of living.  Somehow, every goodbye is still an echo of yours, every person walking away steps in your footprints until they are out of sight. And suddenly there would be tears flooding my throat all over again. After all this freaking time.

So here I am today, writing on tear-soaked paper, thinking that’s enough. That’s more than enough. I want to love again like I loved you, in spite of risk, in spite of fear. Loving you taught me just how much I could give and how far I can go, and I don’t want to lose that. I want to offer myself again to someone, the right someone. You didn’t stay, David, but someone else will. Someone else deserves this misguided intensity of emotion that I wasted on you, long after you didn’t want it anymore.

I’ve always been the one who remembers. In a way, I’ve come to accept that, the inability to really forget what was once important. The memories will remind me to be careful, but I could stand to let go of the souvenirs. It’s been over for so long. This is the part, I think, where I stop letting it hurt.

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Every ounce of confidence I have

I don’t know how to swim.

If you knew that I grew up on a tropical island, this would be even more surprising.

You see, I almost drowned when I was  a child, and the memory of it was seared into my brain: overwhelming panic, an acute, painful longing for air, a desperate reaching for anything that could save me. Even the rescue left me weak, as the adrenalin drained from my body. I never wanted to feel that way again.

So even though I loved the sea, I loved it in a safe way: peering into the tidal pools, wading in the shallows, looking for shells on the shore.  I stayed away from the depths.

Until that summer.

He took me there, to the island where he grew up. And despite my caution, I could feel myself being drawn closer to him. For the nth time, I wondered when I would stop being afraid of what I wanted.

The gorgeous beach in that sleepy little town reminded me of home. His childhood friends were there, too, enjoying the sugar-fine sand, the crashing waves, and a sky so blue you wouldn’t believe it. Tired from the beach games, I lay on the shore by the waterline, eyes closed, feeling the sunlight on my lids, letting the waves caress my body, letting my hand float a little bit closer to where his upturned palm waited. Closer.

The world moved around us.

Shouts of “Hey, you two!” and “Come on!” intruded upon the sleepy rhythm of the waves. We sat up to see the sky no longer blue, but an equally unbelievable shade of radiant orange.  The whole universe was a temptation to fall in love.

His friends were laughing and calling to us, beckoning as they made their way to the nearby cliff. It was their favorite jump-off point, he told me, with the water below just deep enough for the 20-foot dive. We hurried to catch up.

When we got there, we were greeted by the most stunning vista imaginable. A golden, glowing sun hung just above the horizon,  so extravagantly glorious that my heart literally skipped a beat. Seriously, the universe was out doing itself. The group’s high spirits kicked up a notch.

Kevin went first, inexplicably yelling “Happy birthday!” as he jumped. (His birthday was in December.)

Larissa was more graceful, her flawless dive silhouetted against the dazzling sun for one captivating moment.

Javier and Elena jumped together, holding hands and laughing, then sputtering as they splashed into the darkening water.

We were the only ones left. He stepped onto the edge, grinned, and said, “You have to do this, too.” Then he dived.

“What? No! Wait—” But I was talking to empty space. Gingerly, I stepped closer to the edge and looked down. They seemed impossibly far away, treading the waves.

“David, I can’t swim!” I called down, wondering if he’d forgotten.

“I’m right here,” he shouted back. “I’ll get you as soon as you hit the water.”

My heart was pounding too hard to reply to that. Swimming in deep water was one thing, falling into it from a height of twenty feet was an entirely different level of dread.

The others were also shouting encouragement, but his was the only voice that made it past the buzzing in my ears.

“Abby? Come on, before it gets dark. I don’t want you to miss this.”

“I can’t!” My knees had started shaking.  The shimmering edge of the sun touched its reflection in sea.

” You’re safe; I promise. Abby, I promise.”

I stood there, a breathtaking sunset before me, an incredible man waiting in the water below, and twenty feet of fear and empty air in between. A lifetime of cowardice suddenly seemed awfully exhausting.

I tried to call out a warning, but my throat was too tight. I simply jumped.

And fell.

And fell.

Just because he promised.

Before I knew it, I plunged into the water, nothing but the deep unknown under my feet. Then I was pulled into his arms.

“You’re okay,” he said. “You’re okay.” I will remember that smile for the rest of my life.

Sheer exhilaration made me laugh. “Let’s do it again!”

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The brilliant beyond brilliant writers at Indie Ink have come up with the Indie Ink Writing Challenge, which I’m joining for the first time. This week, the lovely Jen O. gave me my prompt: A moment of living dangerously.  Just a moment. As prompts go, it was perfect for making me write about something I never would have thought of myself. Thanks, Jen!

Before and After

I used to know the exact moment you walked into a room. I would feel you there, and I’d turn, and a sense of peacefulness would grow inside me, immediately, without exception. I could be hurting or afraid; it didn’t matter. Your presence meant that no matter what was wrong, there was still something right.

Now it’s all too easy to pretend you’re not there. To see a photograph and look at everyone but you. The longer I could look away, the more it meant that the obsession was over.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

 

(This is a response to the 100 words challenge in Velvet Verbosity. The word for the week was “within”.)

Still haunted

It is such a simple thing, an embrace. The first memory you gave me, and the last one I’ll forget.

I’ve been discarding all the things I miss about you, one by one, like plastic pearls from a broken necklace. No matter how beautiful they seem, I now know exactly what they’re worth, and I have to let them go. There was one that looked so perfect I thought it was real — the image of you looking up at me from the water as I hesitated, just about to jump. Trust me, you said. I will never let you get hurt. So I jumped, and you were there, and I started to think that maybe you always will be. Now that memory lies in the dust with the rest, all the other promises and gestures and smiles that turned out to be less than real in the end.

But the memory of your embrace remains. The first one, when I started to realize that you might become more important than all the others, was that afternoon on the couch, when you held me in your arms and sang me to sleep, running your fingers softly through my hair over and over again. I could feel your strength and all of your breathtaking gentleness, and the tenderness of the moment surrounded me like a forest, like a place I might get lost in forever and never want to leave. I felt safe, cherished, and utterly at peace. I felt loved.

But now I no longer feel anything but disillusioned, and I would do anything to forget. So how do I erase the memory of a touch, when it turns out that it doesn’t mean what I thought it meant? How can I stop remembering the way that you held me, now that you have irrevocably let me go?

It is such a simple thing, an embrace. But it is far less simple to forget.

The one left behind

She watched him preparing to leave, ruthlessly choking back the anguished doubt within her. He was busy, that’s all, she told herself, that’s why he never lingered. She knew he wanted to. She knew he loved her. She must know that. Didn’t she?

Tears flooded her throat. No. He mustn’t notice. Forcing the harsh despair from her voice, she murmured, I’ll miss you. He smiled distractedly, checking his watch, already on his way out. Don’t suffocate him, she lectured herself. But she wished, oh dear God, how she wished it was just a little harder for him to walk away.

(This is a response to the 100 words challenge in Velvet Verbosity. The word for the week was “harsh”.)

A Small Step at Sunset

She sat on the grass under the huge acacia tree, watching the sky change color from a clear blue to the glowing hues of sunset through the lacy patterns made by the branches and leaves. It had been a good day. She had gone out with her friend Jake, wandered around town with him for a bit, until they both ended up in this peaceful place where the traffic sounds faded away. It was just the two of them, the sunset, and their thoughts.

It was the first time he’d done this with anyone, Jake said — just sitting on the grass watching the sunlight fade into dusk. Smiling, she told him she’d never been to this spot before, either. She usually watched the sunset somewhere else, with — no. She would not think of him tonight. She would not ruin this moment with memories that were beautiful once but were tainted now, because he left.

Restless, she absent-mindedly picked at the grass, feeling the soothing coolness of their leaves against her fingers. She plucked and pulled until she found a particularly long blade. Automatically, her hands moved to start weaving a grass ring, like she always did with…. Sigh. The memories would not leave her alone tonight.

Helplessly, her mind flooded with images of the first time they watched a sunset together. The first time she made him a grass ring. The many times he promised he would never let her go. The last time she believed him. She took a deep breath, willing herself to shake off the painful questions that she knew might never be answered.

Jake looked at her in concern, but she just smiled and shook her head. He was a good friend, but she knew he had his own ghosts, too. They were both haunted. They  both needed to forget. She needed to let go of what she never thought she’d lose, and he needed to give up on what he knew he couldn’t have.  The difference was that he could talk about it, and she couldn’t. Not yet. Maybe someday. She looked forward  to someday.

In the fading light, she looked at the half-finished ring in her hands. She took another deep breath, preparing herself to break yet another link to him. Despite a sentimental hesitation, she knew there was no point in preserving what was no longer real. He was lost to her, permanently. It was time to make new memories. Slowly, she started weaving again, knowing this one was for Jake, but also for herself. She was letting herself let him go.