She tries to cry freedom as if it would make it so.
She would never wrap around him in the night again. She would never slide out from under an elbow hooked around her in sleep, or feel him snuggle into her neck, face rough with morning, the tickle making her feel special, warm, loved. She would never crinkle her eyes just that way, lament his humor, hear him whisper “you’re pretty” to end a conversation.
She would never shoot Nerf darts decorated with hearts or wish on another shooting star.
She nods, swipes before the tear breaks her lashes.
He sits alone on his lunch, parked next to a beautiful green he won’t visit.
Once he would have dined with friends, lovers. Now these stolen moments are the best – and worst – of his day.
He catches a glimpse of his silvering hair in the mirror and doesn’t recognize himself.
Turning the key, he looks up from the console to briefly ponder the barren winter trees creaking proudly, eternally, in the frosty sunshine. The first sigh is an experiment. The second, a wish. The engine coughs. He pulls onto the road.
There is a little more loneliness in the world.
I ended 2009 kissing someone who was not mine, while the one who technically was worried about me kissing someone entirely different. It was over.
I was pregnant at the end of 2010, with twins, but I didn’t know it. I was also at the beginning of something new. At midnight we toasted with champagne and someone spilled, he spent the next few minutes on his knees cleaning instead of kissing me. I wish I knew then what I know now.
I don’t remember the end of 2011. I know where we were, probably, but I was miserable and he was miserable and the misery would end us six days later… but not permanently, unfortunately.
I ended things with him on the last day of 2012, then pushed pause on the breakup to go to a party. I was broken. I stepped on a scale and was pushing 300lbs. I left him, and Texas, six weeks later.
I moved to Portland and went to a party to end my drift of 2013. I started 2014 happy and over, dressed as a cat, complete with drunk pictures and slightly inappropriate texts to a much younger man who was completely off limits.
2015 began with a whisper and a kiss, just that younger man and me in a hotel room. New Years on two other coasts lead me to this room on the east coast and the sailor I am sharing it with. It may not work out, but this is right where I want to be.
Betty lived a big life in a big city filled with big things. She always felt so small in that big white house, with five bedrooms and four bathrooms, three sparkling windows that overlooked the eastern neighbors, two bratty but beguiling children and one boisterous husband. All that space was filled with the presence of love, and while she felt small, she felt safe.
Until the accident.
Now she lives in a tiny house by her tiny self. She prefers it that way. “If there’s no space to fill up, there’s no empty, hollow place where my loved ones belong.”