I woke to the knowledge that everything I wanted from this world was gone. That this pain, this horrible stabbing fucking agony was my new reality. My every dream, my every release was dead. Like the most wonderful woman I had ever known. I woke up with the tears already falling. Choking on my misery as my eyes focused and this desolate existence became clear.
The hangover was nearly the equivalent of too much booze. I felt like my insides were made of liquid, a strange sloshing sensation as I walked. Equilibrium took a shit. I forgot about the cut and when I stepped down to get out of bed I just collapsed back into my pillow and blanket fort.
It was a wet thump. I never removed the sheets after my near drowning dream.
But what does it matter? What does any of this matter? The last four days had been a waking hell.
When I first showed up after months of chatting online and on the phone I checked into the hotel right off of the highway. I had talked to her as I entered the city and let her know I was close. I took a quick shower to get the grime of twelve hours driving off of me. Almost human feeling I walked to the car to grab the last of my stuff.
And there she stood. We just stared for a moment. Me in full and utter love. Her in shock. I was worried I was a huge disappointment in person. This was relieved as she ran to me, tears in her eyes. We stood outside the room locked in hug, just amazed each other was real for minutes or hours, I couldn’t say. Time froze for us then.
That Christmas I proposed to her. I bought her a mini Beatles lunchbox and gave it to her as an early present. I was sneaky, dropped to one knee to pull it out from under the tree and handed it to her. She unwrapped it and squealed in delight. I remained in position and asked if there was a little thermos inside, all innocence and wonder. She shook it and said it sounded like it. I said we should fill it with vodka and drink it on our way to dinner. She laughed. A beautiful laugh, the kind that made everyone smile, and opened the box. Inside was another box. She began shaking as she saw it and I deftly swooped it out. She was crying as I opened it. On one knee I asked her to marry me.
Of course she said yes. We went to the bedroom and she gave me a special present all of my own.
She loved video games. We would take turns grinding out levels on whatever Final Fantasy was out. She was my guide for secrets. My guide for life.
My one true love. And she was gone. And I had to live in this world knowing that.
I checked my phone. Chad had called this morning. Texted as well. Said to call he had something to tell me.
A flew other texts from friends and family that had heard the news. Sympathies and condolences. Empty fucking words from people that never gave two shits. Now they fucking cared.
Now I had a reason for the sorrow that controlled for the last decade. In their eyes now it was finally real.
The phone rang and I answered with a growling, “Hello”
“My Love. Did you hear from your precious Beth?”
Her. I hung up the phone.
The blue light on my Echo spun lazily.
“Playing Hurt by Johnny Cash”
What the fuck?
“Playing Ding Dong the Witch is Dead by Klaus Nomi”
“Playing Beth by Kiss”
“Playing You Are Mine by David Haas”
“Playing Get Over It by the Eagles”
I grabbed the piece of plastic and shit and hurled it against the wall. It shattered in the most satisfying way.
The phone began ringing again and my first instinct was to repeat my last action.
“What the fuck do you want you crazy fucking cunt!”
“Good morning to you as well Cuz.”
“Oh fuck. Chad. Sorry man. I just got a nasty, uh, prank call about Beth.”
“Fuck. That is why I called. Look I don’t want to pile on you. I know you are miserable right now.”
Did She already threaten him? I don’t think I could make it if She did something to Chad as well.
“Look Haley. I don’t know how to say this…”
“What? Just say it. Trust me, this week has been terrible and only getting worse. Nothing you say can make it sink any further.”
“Well. Over the last couple years I have been talking to Beth pretty regularly. She said I reminded her of you. We got pretty close.”
“We always were a lot alike. And after Timmy… well it was more like brothers than cousins.”
“That is what I told her. Haley, she left her husband yesterday.”
My heart sank. She left her husband and fell in love with my cousin.
“She wasn’t happy for a long time. She would call me drunk after another fight with him. And spend the next two hours talking about you. She never stopped loving you.”
I had no words. Only her. My true love had never stopped loving me. And I never stopped loving her even though everyone told me to. When I told myself I had to. It was the one thing I was never strong enough to do.
“She left her husband and was coming to see you. She wanted to see if you two could rekindle the old flame. Look Haley, I would never have said this. Never added to your broken heart but you had to know. She told her husband her plan and I was worried he would start to harass you about it. Especially now. You gotta know I am only letting you know to prepare you. But if the prank calls have started already.”
“It wasn’t him.”
I had no emotion left in me. I was truly the walking corpse.
“Are you sure? I will drive to his house and beat his ass. I have no issues doing it right now.”
“I am sure. It was someone else.”
“Okay man. Look Haley, if you need anything. Anything. I am here. You know that right?”
“I do. Thank you. I just need time to process all of this.”
“I get it. Look. I’m worried about you. Don’t do anything stupid okay? Nothing, permanent. You know what I am saying?”
I laughed. A real laugh filled with bitterness. Maybe a touch of insanity.
“I can promise I won’t kill myself. I can’t.”
“Good. Call me when you are ready to talk. Love you.”
“Love you too Chad. Hey wait a second. What happened exactly? A car accident?”
“Her car spun out on some black ice and when off of a bridge.”
“Off of a bridge?”
“Yeah. I thought it was weird right after we talked about Timmy.”
“She lost control and the car went over the edge. No damage to the bridge I could see from the pics. Like the car just went over. Must have rolled and flipped.”
It had to be Her. She did this. My one chance at happiness. Did she think think would endear Her to me? What is happening? Why would she take the only person I wanted? What was I to Her? A plaything, a toy to be manipulated to her every whim?
No. I was not a fucking action figure.
“Good bye Chad. Hugs to your family for me.”
“Will do. Call me, I am always here.”
There is coincidence and there is blatant fucking facts. That bitch had gone too far. Too fucking far.
But what am I supposed to do?
The blanket I Hung over the mirror was in tatters. Shredded by claws it appeared. And etched into the glass behind it was the familiar word.
I was definitely not getting my deposit back.
I could not get my mind straight. She loved me. A feeling of joy. My love killed her. Dread. Like a coin flipping in my mind, in my heart. A coin that landed on it’s side. Perfectly balanced on the precipice of tragedy.
It would be poetic if it was a story. It would cause women to weep and men to stand up a little straighter. But it wasn’t a story. It was the shit show that is my life. I had to live it. I had to figure out how to navigate this sewage.
It all came back to the water. Ice. Winter.
I have read all the Dresden novels. I know about the Fae. Mab and her royal court. Was it real? Was my life a page out of an urban fantasy novel?
Did I have powers?
What is the connection between She and I? She had been looking for me the day She took Timmy under the ice. To punish me when She took Beth.
Beth had grown up in a not religious home but was sent to a Christian school by her parents. To keep her safe from temptation. Her older brothers were into drugs and trouble so they thought to stop it by removing the options from the table.
All it did was make her hate religion. She said the bible promised worshipping at the throne of God for eternity. She wouldn’t wish that on anyone. She swore that was not the choice for her. We had long talks of what came after death. We both just wanted it to be over. To just sleep for eternity.
Now I was not sure about any of it. It was all unknown.
How long had I been crying now? How was I not dessicated like the desert that was my heart? What was I going to do? How do I move on now? I couldn’t before and it was hopeless and that was just the start. Mow I knew what hopelessness really meant. Had the definition engraved on my heart, etched like the word on the mirror. The heart I thought had been broken all these years was dust in my chest. Fragmented into the finest grains of sand.
She always loved me. She was coming back to me.
She was gone. Truly gone. Not in another state, living her life without me. Gone. Forever.
And I hated Chad at that moment. For telling me the truth. I understood why he did it.
To protect me. To give me closure.
But I still felt hatred.
Had he told me before. All of the things I wanted to say to him right now. If he had just told me I would have run to her. Swept her off her feet and made her mine again.
But I know her. She made him swear not to. I can hear her saying it. If she were to be with me it would be on her terms. My pushing would just push her farther away.
I know this. The understanding of the situation is there.
It doesn’t make it hurt less. It doesn’t make me want to face it. To place blame somewhere. To be able to lash out at someone besides myself. Besides the all powerful fucking witch that caused it.
I don’t hate you Chad. I don’t. But I hate your silence. I would have never tried to kill myself if I knew I had a chance, even a sliver of hope. Maybe this would have never began.
But it had already started. Way back then on the ice. Timmy.
Something happened ten years ago. Something triggered all of this. My life was shit but it was mine.
I don’t feel like remembering right now. I just want to forget again.
To sleep and when I wake up find out it all has been a dream. Just a stupid dream.
Instead I am going to sit here and think about the one who got away.
The phone buzzed and I picked it up in defeat.
“Is this Mikhail?” a male voice said.
“You killed my wife. She died because of you, you rotten piece of shit.”
“Yes. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? Sorry? Fuck you and your sorry you fucking loser. You fucking degenerate piece of shit. Fuck you.”
“I only talked to her one time while you two were together. Once. And that was a long time ago.”
“Did you know she left me? For a fucking loser like you?”
“No. I found out today. Again, you have no idea how sorry I am she is gone. That she left you.”
“She left a note. Told me it wasn’t my fault. That she never stopped loving you. And you are saying she never talked to you? You are a fucking liar!”
“I’m not. I wish I were.”
I just sat there and let him scream. I didn’t even hear his words any longer. I understood what it meant to lose her. To have the light shut off in your life. I did.
After a while I realized it was just him sobbing on the line. He needed someone to hate as well. And he picked the perfect person. He got the guy responsible.
“I am sorry for your loss. Check the phone bill, you will see we never spoke. You are right. It is all my fault. Part of me wishes she never left you. Part of me wishes she had made it to me. But neither is the case. So how about you just hate me from a distance? I accept it. Now kindly fuck off.”
It was all true. Now I need to curl up in a ball and not dream of her for just a minute.