O, That Way Madness Lies

Submitted into Contest #42 in response to: Write a story that ends with a character asking a question.... view prompt



I kept every movie ticket. A banded stack of torn-off stubs with faded colors and faint letters. Yellowish tint, $4.00, and I think… July 2009 – 500 Days of Summer. A couple of months after we began dating. You still hid your freckles through heavy make-up and concealer. It wasn't until your first sleepover in September that I got to see the stunning contrast of red spots against your blushing face. Remember? I told you never to hide your perfection from me.

Our silver rings are beside the tickets. One inside another. Your fingers perfectly intertwined with mine. Friday downtown walks were the highlight of our month. Strolling around the town center, visiting art shows, and viewing the city from the rooftops. You never let go of my hand, no matter how awkward it sometimes got because you have to pick up your pace to keep up with me. "Never let me go," you said one night.

The postcard you sent from Spain was buried below stacks of Valentine's Day letters and Christmas cards. I still think your trip to Europe was the peak of your career. You were unstoppable. After I packed your clothes the night before you left, I can't help but peek into your office. You didn't see me, but you know, your face was the brightest when you're on your element. I asked you to take me with you. You hugged me tightly before you left. I took in as much of your scent as possible – vanilla… with some flowery fragrance forever etched on my senses. I guess that was the pinnacle of our good-old-days.

Spit. I tucked the Newsies playbill below the postcard. All I remember from that damn musical is all the spitting. I thought it was an odd choice, but not for you. You've always rooted for the underdogs – the broken. I've always thought that's also why you loved me. I would run away and vanish for days whenever we fought. Each time, I expected to return with my clothes burned, and my possessions sprawled on the lawn. But each time, you've welcomed me with a hug and a cup of coffee. 

You always had a smile, despite your tear-streaked face. You're most beautiful whenever you've finished crying. The blush of your cheeks is vibrant, your smile genuine, and your eyes seeking forgiveness. You fall in love with the broken. You'd never admit to it, but I know you stayed with me in my worst times because you wanted to fix me – and you did. But I guess it wasn't enough. I was never enough for you.

To Thine Own Self Be True. Remember my 1-year chip? You've always reminded me of the three sides of the triangle – Unity, Service, Recovery. Thank you. You've helped me maintain sobriety throughout the years. But you know, I still don't understand how you can see me at my worst and guide me through recovery without knowing what I wanted.

I thought you wanted a family. When I told you we should start one, you responded with the most intoxicating smile I had ever seen. You allowed me to hope more than I had ever hoped before. And then you snatched it all away.

Was it really too much to ask you to stay home? You know how I turned out because my parents were never home. Children should not be raised by some nanny. You didn't have to get defensive. I knew I was asking you to give up your career. But you travel too much. I loved how self-reliant you are, but I thought it was nothing but a phase. I was sure you'd want to be there for our child, so I figured you might as well completely stay home. I didn't know I wanted the impossible.

I didn't know you'd walk out and leave me this stupid letter. "You're not who I thought you were," what even is that? You knew full well who I was from the start.

"I hope you learn to let me go. I love you, but I've had enough. I'm not your property." I never said I owned you. I mean, you wouldn't be who you are if I hadn't stayed despite your flaws. I'd given you the world, but you were never satisfied. I didn't realize that loving me because I was broken also meant you'd fall out of love when I'm finally stable.

So I'm done. I couldn't even send this directly to you since you haven't removed that restraining order. You might as well have spat on my face. We've been together for over ten years, what makes you think I'd hurt you? Okay, I'm sorry I showed up drunk at your mom's place, I thought you were there. I figured if I showed you I hit bottom, you'd come to your senses. But I now know that's not happening.

I'm burning the movie tickets, the cards, and the letter you left me. I can't move on if I continuously revisit these. I want you to keep the postcard and the playbill because I know how important those are to you. After all, I wouldn't want Stacie to find my safe with all of our memories. Let me know when you want to meet.

I'm keeping our rings. Stacie's ring size is the same as yours. She likes the art shows too, you know? She doesn't like the rooftops, but I can live with that. Her perfume's close to your scent, but it's not quite the same. Maybe you can share your brand with her.

Her freckles fade when she blushes, the contrast of yours must have been genetic. I hope our daughter's freckles are more defined. Well, maybe not, cause then I'll have to deal with suitors way too early. Oh, we don't have a daughter yet. But she's agreed to have one. She was so happy when I asked her to manage the house and let me take care of them when the baby comes.

Everything's perfect. Well, almost. See, Stacie's agreed to be a mother, she's eager to take care of our daughter. But she doesn't want to get pregnant. That's fine, as I said, I have issues with her freckles anyway. I know you also wanted to have a child but didn't want to abandon your career. I'm so excited to hear your response. Would you consider being our daughter's surrogate mother? 

May 17, 2020 07:55

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