The chilled rain fell upon my shivering pale, almost translucent skin. My clothes felt stretched paper thin and unbearably tight; soaking up the very essence of me it seemed. My hair was pulled back into a tight bun that now weighed heavy on my neck. It was as if the universe was telling me to look down, but I didn’t want to. I already knew what would be there, but it never got any easier. I felt that if I didn’t look down, then it wouldn’t be real. The reality was, I was just wasting time and making this much harder on myself. After all, it had already been three years; yet it felt as though it were yesterday.
Jeremy H. Benjamin
2/16/1988 - 3/31/2017
The inscription on his gravestone was that of his life, short. His parents were disgraced by Jeremy’s act of selfishness; so they said. Taking his own life on what was supposed to be a special day.
Happy Birthday to me.
I walked back to my car with heavy lead laden legs. Another year goes by where I can’t seem to let him go. I guess that goes with the final screw you Kelly. This was goodbye for good. I needed to heal and visiting him only let Benjamin win, again.
My therapist said I’ve been making great progress. I’ve been seeing Megan for the past year and she has really been helping me out. Not just in his death, but in helping me realize that Benjamin was very abusive mentally and verbally. No, he never hit me, what he did was enough on its own.
You need closure Kelly. I honestly believe by visiting his grave one last time to say goodbye would really help you move on. Death is never easy on anyone, but you really should try and move on the best that you can. Otherwise, he wins again and will continue to hold you in his grasp.
Benjamin was controlling and overbearing. I just didn’t know it until after he had been gone a few years. Megan helped me realize that I had chosen someone just like my father. I was my mother repeating the cycle so to speak.
Megan told me many times that it wasn't my fault he committed suicide. I was only leaving an abusive relationship. His actions were not my fault.
It was after my father died from a tragic car accident that I met Jeremy at a convention through work. I had seen him there for work before, but had never introduced myself and vice versa. He was incredibly handsome. Dark brown hair, bright blue eyes, chiseled jaw and muscular body. The women always flocked to him, young and old. He was beyond charming. What was even more impressive, was that he was polite and kind, but dismissive to the flirtatious behavior many women exhibited.
I’m sorry to hear of your father’s passing. Benjamin’s first words to me. I didn't know he even knew who I was to be honest.
Thank you, I appreciate that. I remember like it was yesterday. The events to follow and the heartache that crippled me.
Maybe just one slice, Kelly. You know how upset you'll be when you look in the mirror tomorrow.
You were gone longer than you said you'd be. You were supposed to be here 30 minutes ago. Do you even know how disappointing that is? You lied to me.
I was just visiting my mom that day. He made me feel like I was being nefarious. He made me feel like I had let him down. I had told him I was sorry, and that I wouldn't let it happen again.
It's okay Kelly, I just worry about you so much. I know you get sidetracked and God forbid something bad happened to you when you were driving. I wouldn't want to lose you like you lost your dad.
Benjamin always had a hand in everything I did. It didn’t start out like that though. He was kind and thoughtful. He courted me so to speak. Date nights once a week. That is until his jealousy took hold. We practically lived together, yet had separate apartments. It was ungodly to live together out of wedlock his parents said, but really it was so he could see other women he had met online I later found out before trying to leave him. That didn’t stop him from pressuring me into making love with him.
It was never loving and sweet like it should have been. He was way too rough and wouldn't even look at me when I asked him to. I went on autopilot most of the time. I never once climaxed. I don't think he cared or even noticed either.
It was all about appearances to him. That’s the long and the short of it. I had to move on. Megan was right, he wasn’t any good for me and manipulated everything I did. I couldn’t tell anyone what really was happening, because I didn’t know myself. Plus, even now, no one would believe me anyway. Also, he’s dead. You don’t talk ill of the dead. Unless it’s one on one with your therapist, right?
That night I decided to go out with a friend for my birthday. Megan told me I needed to reconnect with positive acquaintances. Benjamin alienated me from everyone that cared about me. I had to at least try to get back to a normal life. Megan’s positive reinforcement and tools needed to break the cycle of my father and Benjamin’s hold on me were starting to fade. I was finally realizing my self-worth. The deep seeded wounds were healing and it felt wonderful.
Becky and I were to meet at a bar called Martinis. Her choice, not mine. I wasn’t allowed to drink as per Benjamin. I was actually pretty excited to meet Becky at some random bar that I had never been to. I hadn’t hung out with her since I started seeing Benjamin, he didn’t like her of course.
I walked into the bar and was awe-struck. It was breath-taking. I thought it was just going to be some dump in the warehouse district on the river especially since train tracks were no more than 100 feet away. It was most definitely nothing of the sort.
The ceiling was that of a cathedral that was two stories high. I was enveloped with the scent of wood polish that came from the dark mahogany expansive rectangular bar. Decorative stained glass windows in colors of pink, purple, blue, green and yellow sparkled as if it were Christmas Eve when the world is bright and full of hope. There was a larger than life oil painting of a train on one wall with lamps of all sorts everywhere hanging from the ceiling and some standing tall from the ground up. The lamps of the latter looked like they belonged outside of a gated community. The bar had hundreds of bottles of high end alcohol encased in glass cabinets with even more stained glass intricately placed above the showcased bottles. The bar had to be at least a story high and no one seemed to gawk it the way I did.
“Kelly! Oh my gosh, you made it!” Megan startled me. I was so engrossed in my surroundings that I hadn’t seen her in the crowded bar.
“Megan, wow… you look incredible! I am way too under dressed for this place.” Megan was wearing a slim fitted red dress with quarter sleeves, black pantyhose and heels. She was so gorgeous with her shoulder length blonde curly hair pinned up halfway.
I was just wearing faded jeans and a long sleeved black top with my hair in a high ponytail that hung halfway down my back with a pair of black and rose gold Nike’s.
“Oh stop girl, you look great! God, I’m so freaking happy to see you again. I honestly thought you were going to bail on me!” She laughed lightheartedly and it was music to my ears. I hadn’t seen her since the funeral three years ago. My fault, not hers. I stayed busy working and hardly leaving my apartment. I secluded myself with Layla, my cat.
“Well, come on now. Let’s get a drink. Martinis on me! ” She laughed as she grabbed my hand and led me to the crowded bar full of laughter and intimate conversations of couples that looked so in love, or lust. Regardless, it was amazing and I felt so alive.
Becky ordered me a caramel apple martini since I had no clue what to even order. I took a tiny sip before we went to find an open table, of which looked futile, and it was incredible. I could hardly taste any alcohol. The sweet decadence of the caramel and the slight tang of apple cider flowed smoothly down my throat. I had no clue any sort of alcohol could taste this fantastic.
I followed her outside where there was extra seating with more lights strung up around the covered patio with heaters on that made the now cold night warm and inviting. The tables and chairs were all taken here too. It was then when I saw Becky walk up to a cluster of people laughing and smiling when she saw someone she knew.
“Ashley! Hey, girl! Of course I’d find you here.” She laughed as Ashley got up to hug her. They giggled and made quick jabs at each other in fun.
“Who’s your friend, Becky?” Ashley smiled at me and shook my hand.
“This is Kelly, an old friend of mine from high school. We’re celebrating her birthday!”
“Ah snap, happy birthday Kelly! It’s Amanda’s birthday too.” I looked over at the five other people from her group to find big bright blue eyes under long thick black lashes looking at me.
We locked eyes for what seemed to be an eternity, but was for only a moment all entwined together. She was perfect. Her wavy dark brown hair was even longer than mine. She was wearing jeans and a tee-shirt that said, ‘Adopt, Don’t Shop’ with a picture of a possum on it snarling under an unzipped black hoodie. It was one of those ironic tees that you either understood or you didn’t. I tore my eyes away from hers and started to look down at my shoes when she spoke up.
“Happy birthday, Kelly. You two should come join us.” I looked up again and found her looking at me still. Her voice was soft, sweet, warm and inviting all at once.
I looked at Becky who was greeting everyone, then back at Amanda. “Um, sure. That sounds good.” She patted the chair next to her.
I took small purposeful steps in her direction. I was so afraid I was going to fall. My heart was beating fast, my hands were sweaty and my throat felt extra dry; like it was starting to close up. What is going on with me? My stomach feels like it’s twisted up in knots and I feel nauseous. It’s that martini, it has to be. I only had a small sip though.
“Are you okay?” Amanda asked. Oh no, she noticed.
“Yeah, yeah of course. It must be this martini. It’s the first one I’ve ever tried before. I’ve also never been here, well… or any bar before really. I didn’t know a bar could even be so cool either until today. I mean, I’ve had a few drinks before like wine, but I didn’t like the stuff. I thought all alcohol tasted like that, so I haven’t tried anything else. Until now. Oh my gosh, I’m rambling. I’m so sorry, I’ll shut up now.” I felt my face begin to turn red with the heat of embarrassment.
“No, don’t be sorry at all! Please, sit.” She patted the seat next to her again. “So, how old are you today? I’m 32.”
“No way, I am too!” This was getting weird. Who is this woman? More importantly, why did I feel so jittery and excited? I wanted to tell her everything and nothing at once. I wanted to tell her how she’s the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I wanted to touch her soft looking hair and even brush it. What the hell is wrong with me? This is a woman, I've never felt this way after meeting anyone, let alone a woman.
"You're kidding me, right? No way! That's super cool." Amanda grinned and took a sip of her drink.
"Yeah, I usually don't do anything on my birthday. Just another day, ya know?"
"Oh, I totally get it. I was dragged out tonight by Ashley. But, I'm glad I let her now."
I blushed and looked away. "I'm glad I came out too now." What was going on? Was I flirting with her just now?
We talked for hours that night. It was as if we were in our own world that no one, not even her friends, could penetrate. I never wanted tonight to end. I know she felt the same way too, because after all of her friends and Becky left, it was just us. Closing time was approaching with a half hour left. I wasn't used to taking the first step at anything unless it was job related. I wanted to see her again. I had to spend more time with Amanda. This couldn't be it. I was never so sure of something in my life. Even thinking it to myself sounded unrealistic, I am such a fool. She's just being nice to me… right?
"Amanda, I uh wanted to see if maybe, I don't know, maybe you would want to hang out again sometime?" I could hardly get the words out. I've never been so bold as to even ask to see someone that I was interested in. Above all else, I've never been attracted to a woman before either. Then again, no man has ever made me feel like this.
"I would love that, Kelly. I actually wanted to see if maybe you'd like to go get breakfast? We could go to a Steak n Shake? There's one just across the river."
"Breakfast at two am? That actually sounds amazing. I am super hungry now that you've brought up food." I giggled.
Neither of us were drunk, or even tipsy. I only had that first martini and had drank soda ever since. Amanda had only two and that was now five hours ago. Time had never eluded me as did tonight. I wanted tonight to never end.
After two hours at Steak n Shake, I still didn't want to leave her. I was afraid I would never see her again. It was more than likely an irrational thought, but nothing in life was sure. I did know that. Before I could stop the next words from coming out of my mouth I blurted out, "Would you like to come to my apartment and watch Hulu maybe?" Oh crap, did I really just ask her that? I blew it, I know I did. Why would she want to come over? She barely knows me. Speaking of which, why did I ask? I just met her!
"Yes! I'd love to! We already like the same shows, maybe we can find something new for both of us?" The way she looked at me right now with her blue eyes made my heart hurt. People usually say that their heart 'flutters' or 'skips a beat,' but mine felt like it was aching. She took my breath away.
We put a cartoon series on called 'Adventure Time' so we could still talk. We had seen it before, so it was a perfect way to just have noise on in the background.
Our beautiful night ended somewhere around ten in the morning when we both fell asleep cuddling on my couch. I had never slept so well in my life.
I wondered if people in love felt this way. I've only read about such things in my books. I didn't know if this is what love was, but I wanted more than anything to believe it was.