7 comments

Sad

My heart was breaking. I could physically feel it shattering into pieces, splintering off into different parts of my body. I gasped shallow, painful breaths as the splinters impaled my lungs. I couldn’t even look at her as she asked me, “Why?”


“I-I just can’t do this with you,” I choked out. “I have to think of my son and I have to put him first.” 


I lifted my shoulders and turned to face her. Her blue eyes, usually gentle and calm, were a raging storm, destroying ships and drowning sailors. The air around us was brisk and the cool breeze whipped her dark hair around her face. Her lips parted and she breathed out a curse against me. I watched it dance out into the dusky light, as the storm spilled from her eyes and fell down her cheeks.


“You’re going back to her.” 


It wasn’t a question. I turned away again and gazed across the meadow, towards the snow topped peaks kissed by the setting sun, where we had just spent the weekend holed up in a tent keeping each other warm. It had been an escape from the inevitable. My response to her caught in my throat.


Images of our life together over the past few months flickered through my mind. Sunday sunrises with her wrapped up in my arms, her head tucked under my chin, her scent tickling my nose and filling my mind with possibilities of a happy life. Her smile like a shock to my brain as she peers up from the novel she’s reading, curled up by the crackling fire. A glass of red wine she pulls away from her perfect lips with a knowing gaze at the moment she catches me mesmerized by her presence. Her gentle and adept fingers brushing my hair, the stress of the day dripping from the top of my head down my body and on to the floor with every stroke, my eyes closing as she presses herself into me. I couldn’t remember a time I had been happier. 


But I didn’t deserve any of it. And even if I did, my son’s mother would never allow me to have complete happiness, always keeping it just out of my grasp by keeping him from me.


I pulled my hat from my head, feeling the brim with my fingers as I steadied myself for the blow I was about to deal. Snow had begun to dust the frosty ground and I breathed in the cool night air, feeling it ice over my broken heart.


“We had a good time together.” The words left a bitter taste on my tongue as I spoke them into existence, belittling the mark she had left on my soul. 


“No - you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to make this seem like just some fling.”


It wasn’t, and I knew that. I loved her. But I loved my son more and his mother was never going to let me see him if I didn’t do this. She was an evil, manipulative woman if I ever met one. I hadn’t left her for Anna, but she told everyone I did, spreading falsehoods about me and fostering mistrust in our small community. As I passed people in the street, they would steal cold glances at me. I could see their thoughts flash across their faces saying, No wonder she doesn’t want her son around someone like that.


I ran my fingers through my hair, wishing they were hers, and put my hat back on my head. I needed to make sure I looked her in the eyes when I spoke these next words. She had to know that it was over. I turned my eyes upward and met her cool blue ones. A small snowflake kissed her cheek, landing on one of her many freckles, melting and merging with the tears that were flowing down her face like tiny waterfalls. That broke me.


I desperately wanted to pull her to me, to wipe her sadness away and meet her lips with mine, to stroke her wind-blown, raven hair and whisper my aching apologies for destroying her, for making her feel like she was anything other than a goddess who I worshipped. 


And then I didn’t.


“We had a good time together,” I repeated coldly. “But my son comes first. I can’t leave him without a father, I have to try to make it work with her for my family. I won’t do what my father did to me. I’m not him.” I felt my face get hot and my vision blurred. I closed my eyes and swallowed the emotion down into the pit of my stomach. “I…I can’t be him.”


As I turned away from her, I heard her inhale softly and then say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup, Wes.” I paused for a moment as her words lingered in the air and then dissipated into cool silence. Well, I guess I had to figure out a way to do just that.


It took every fiber in my being to keep my feet moving toward my truck, and I focused on my boots making muffled crunching noises in the fresh snow. The door creaked as I pulled the handle and climbed in. I put my head down and rubbed the callouses on my palm, fighting my blurry vision once again. Quickly, I wiped my eyes with one hand and started my truck with the other. As I shifted into gear and gripped the freezing steering wheel, I stole one last glance at the love of my life.


She had collapsed onto her front steps, her shawl wrapped tightly around her as if it was all she could do to keep herself from shattering into a million pieces, her head resting on her knees, shoulders shuddering from the agony I had caused her. I repeated what I had been telling myself for the past week: that I didn’t deserve her, that I wasn’t worthy of her. 


It dulled the pain of what I had just done to a numbness, and as I turned out of the driveway I turned my thoughts to my son. His mother hadn’t allowed me to see him in a couple of months, hiding him from me if I showed up to her house, telling him God knows what about why I had left. I envisioned our reunion; my son running into my arms, his auburn hair shining in the morning light, his perfect smile as he giggled when I gave him a little toss into the air. 


I hoped that he would be happy to see me.


March 15, 2022 19:04

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7 comments

Brian Stanton
23:03 Mar 23, 2022

Hi Sarah, I am a father, and a husband, and as such, I can say that you did a great job evoking those feelings in me that would make a scenario like this so hard. Personally, my favorite paragraph was, "Images of our life together..." You penned exactly how I feel about my wife, all the little flashes of memories, not one memory, but the lot of them, imaged in my mind's eye in different ways. Fortunately, for me, the love of my life is also the mother of my children. But if I were put into a position where I had to choose between life wi...

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Riel Rosehill
21:22 Mar 21, 2022

Hi Sarah! This story is beautifully written, and I could really feel for Wes... I especially liked the first paragraph which was a really strong start, and your first sentence was a great opening hook. Also, this paragraph as you described when she started crying: "Her blue eyes, usually gentle and calm, were a raging storm, destroying ships and drowning sailors. The air around us was brisk and the cool breeze whipped her dark hair around her face. Her lips parted and she breathed out a curse against me. I watched it dance out into the dusky...

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Sarah Lynn
22:48 Mar 21, 2022

Ah, thank you! I really need to work on my consistency but I will say that the paragraph you quoted was probably my favorite one. I feel like I struggled to maintain that type of descriptive writing for the duration of my piece, though.

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Felice Noelle
18:42 Mar 20, 2022

Sarah: Let me be one of the first to comment on your touching, heartfelt story. I'm sure it resonates a lot with your readers. You told an all too common story in an interesting way that made me want to know how things turn out. Living through a similar situation years ago informs me you got the details down and made the story authentic. Keep on writing and reading and learning on this website. It's a real treasure and there are countless models of extraordinary writing for our improvement. I've been on only a couple months, but it's...

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Sarah Lynn
01:51 Mar 21, 2022

Thank you very much! Being a first timer, I was quite nervous to post so I truly appreciate your feedback and support.

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Kathleen Fine
14:53 Mar 25, 2022

Great job describing the feelings of a choosing a child first over something or someone else!

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L.M. Lydon
19:57 Mar 24, 2022

So sad. You use some great metaphors and imagery (“ Her blue eyes, usually gentle and calm, were a raging storm, destroying ships and drowning sailors. The air around us was brisk and the cool breeze whipped her dark hair around her face. Her lips parted and she breathed out a curse against me. I watched it dance out into the dusky light, as the storm spilled from her eyes and fell down her cheeks.” is my favorite paragraph).

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