I sit in my favorite chair, waiting to fall asleep. Like most nights, my mind races with the day's events.

It's hard to sleep like this. When someone overthinks my actions. When someone else tries to put my feelings into words.

"Can I sleep, please?" I ask aloud.

I wait a moment and nothing happens. She didn't like inactivity. She always wanted me to be doing, growing. She always wanted more from me.

At the end of a long day, even when I was desperately exhausted, she poured herself into my story, trying to fit herself into my life.

To express herself through someone else, so she didn't have to take responsibility for it.

I close my eyes and sigh, remembering.


The sun woke me. My alarm didn't go off, and I was late for work. She loved that one.

I got coffee, and the cute barista was working. His arm flexed as he passed my cup over the counter. My cheeks flushed. His eyes twinkled, but he didn't say anything. Classic.

I made it to work a couple minutes late to a meeting everyone knew about but me. A group text. To everyone at the company. "Do you think he has everyone's number but mine saved in his phone?"

I started as an intern 3 years ago. My boss is stern but a little sexist. I always wonder if I can be the one to convince him. I will, right? With her writing? Sometimes it's fun that she's so predictable.

"Want to go out tonight?" My work-husband high fived me. There was a new place he wanted to try, just opened, exclusive, great music. He winked at me. He knew we'd get in. We always did. She made sure of that.

One of our girl friends came over early to help me get ready. She brought some options and put me together, so I looked out of my own league. I like being told what to wear. I'm glad she hates getting ready alone. So do I. We're on the same page about that at least.

We met up at 8 and joined a long line outside. The bouncer stopped as we approached the door, allowing the group behind us in with no explanation. We tried an increasing number of bills and compliments when a figure came from behind.

"They're with me." I felt my heart skip a beat, my breath quicken. I knew it. I looked over as he reached over my shoulder, his arm flexing. We locked eyes and blushed. This time, he said something.

"My brother owns this place." Of course he does. I bet this isn't his scene, though. "This isn't usually my scene, but something told me to visit him tonight." He must not know. I still smiled back.

Hours later, our humble group had a private room. We watched the bands from a comfortable distance, an unrealistic cushion between us and everyone else in the club. My friends went to the bar for a drink, leaving us alone. He asked if I wanted to dance.

My head rested on his shoulder, his hand on the small of my back. We swayed gently, out of step with the music in the room, our bodies in tune only with each other.

I looked up at him and smiled, thanking her for writing this moment into existence.

He leaned in to kiss me when my friends returned, breaking us apart.

Of course. He'll probably offered to get us drinks.

When he got back from the bar, we sat close together on the couch. We talked into each other's ear, the rest of the world a blur. Our friends largely ignored us, sensing the story playing out before them. They knew about her after all. They knew her style.

This was her cliche.

At some point, we met his brother, his total opposite. A partier, a little immature. But they cared for each other, that was evident. My barista was the role model. Driven, caring, intelligent. All of our favorite things.

At the end of the night, he walked us out. He put his phone in my hand, and I typed in my number. She loved this part. The hopefulness. The adrenaline.

Sometimes she tried to keep it going, to give it a second or third meeting. But she usually ended up scrapping it only a few weeks into it. No ending, just something else. A new beginning. A new situation. But he and I were always pretty similar. The cliches.

I handed him his phone. He took it, his fingers brushing against mine. My stomach tingled as I looked down, away from his vulnerable, optimistic eyes.

His car was across the street. He walked out into the lane, still looking back at me. I blew him a kiss. That was new. I laughed at myself, my hand rubbing my forehead in surprised but giddy embarrassment.

Over his shoulder, a bright light got closer. It didn't stop.

No no no. Not now. Not a twist.

Don't you dare.

The ambulance allowed me to ride with them, his hand held in mine. "You the wife?"

I shook my head, but don't let go of his hand. He squeezed it gently. I could've been.

He's in surgery for hours before a doctor appears. I sat across the hall, watching his family walk out of their waiting room as different people.

"Internal injuries."

"We did all we could."

The staff didn't talk to me. They didn't see me anymore. No one did.

I met so many versions of him throughout my life, but never like that.

Can I do it, again?

Unwilling to go home but unable to approach them, I wait on an bench in the middle of the ER.

Some time later, a man sat down next to me. "Hard place to be, huh?"

His weathered hands hold out a pen.

She can't be serious.

I look at it for several moments before my eyes can even focus on it. He points to his hand.

"It's not as easy as you think."

My spirit guide.

He smiles at me.

Yep. This is her solution.

I look down at my palm and place the tip against my skin.

I close my eyes and lean my head against the wall.

A moment later, I wake up and remember why she doesn't let me dream.

March 11, 2020 04:05

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