The Chill of Autumn and The Death Of A Love

As Rita walks the path, she wraps her coat around her. Tries to stave off the chill in the air. She hates this time of year. Everything around her is dying. There is a gentle mist sailing through the air. She hold her umbrella over her head but it doesn’t help much. The wind has picked up and is whipping the mist in her face. It chills her to the bone. Just like the memory of him. Of her sweet punk. Rita thinks about him and her heart aches. He told her he loved her. It was summer. The day was warm, sunny and vibrant. She felt alive for the first time in a very long time.

She saw his name today. Read his words. Used to be he wrote for her. But not anymore. Those days are over. All that’s left is the bitterness of a love that once was. Of the love she thought they had. She pulls her coat tighter and keeps walking the path. The leaves on the trees are yellow where they were once so bright green and full of life. She longs for the warmth of summer. The warmth of him. But he is gone. What’s left is decay and the chill of autumn.

She thinks of him. His name. It is a word that dances on the tip of her tongue. Still. But then she remembers, and the name sours instantly. Rita remembers it’s over. She’s empty. She wishes she’d never uttered it. That name.

She speaks to the air, “Do you miss me? Do you wish for me? Do you still say my name at that exquisite moment?”

Rita holds out her palm from under the umbrella and feels that the mist has turned to rain. She lets the drops fall on her hand and keeps walking. The woods envelop her and she wishes she could forget. The words, the love and him.

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You Were Always my Prayer, and My Promise

Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them all by ourselves”
― Laura EsquivelLike Water for Chocolate

As we set up our chairs on the beach, I hear the roar of the Atlantic at our backs. It’s full dark, the end of the summer season, and there’s a chill in the air. We decide to take advantage of the crisp, and brisk night and have friends over. You and the guys build a blazing fire on our little section of beach. We women sit and drink sweet red wine. Watching you interact with the guys makes me smile. You’re so confident in your fire making skills. You laugh easily. I love to see your easy smile light up your entire face.

We’ve known some of these people for years. Others, we  met at the beginning of the summer. There’s wine and conversation. So much laughter. We sit in our short beach chairs around the fire. The flames are high and twist in the gentle breeze caused by the surf. Their colors are copper, crimson and sapphire. The wood is dry and cracks at the intensity of the heat. I lean up against your chest. You hold me close and I’ve never felt more free. More happy. More alive.

I contribute to the conversation. Say something sarcastic and snarky, because it’s what I do. I hear you laugh and it’s music to my ears. I sit up and grab a bottle of wine. I drink right from it, and hand it to you. You take a long pull on the bottle and pass it back to me.  I bury it half way in the sand next to me, so it won’t tip over. I tell it to sit and stay, like it’s a dog. You and our friends laugh.

As the conversation continues, you put your hands in mine. I look down at them and notice that they are like mine. Soft, yet strong. Yours are strong enough to hold a girl that likes to run, but needs a home. A safe place to land. You’ve given me all of that. I’ve given you unconditional love. Something you’ve longed for, but never found. You’ve always loved too hard and gotten hurt. Until me. Until you. Until us, we merely existed. Now we live. For each other. For this, simple little life. On a beach. On the Atlantic.

You ease your grip and I caress your palms with my fingertips. I look into your eyes, and see the blazing fire reflected in them. Along with every emotion you feel for me. I smile at you and my pulse quickens. My body reacts with want, and I blush. You always make me blush. Still. Our friends stop and look at us. Some smile, while others are wistful. There we are on the beach with our friends around a campfire and we’re holding hands. But we’re doing more than that. Our love emanates and flows to those around us. Then I laugh my silly horse laugh and the spell is broken.

I turn to our circle of friends and say something with the word fuck in it, and everyone laughs uproariously. We unclasp our hands, I turn around and settle back into your chest. You put your arms around me, kiss the top of my head and whisper that you love me. I feel the warmth of flames on the front of my body, and the warmth of your inner flame in my back.  I lean my head up, kiss your chin and whisper that I love you. Then I say your name. It slips easily from my lips, like a prayer. Like a promise. You were always my prayer, and my promise.

When the Words Stopped

Hate leaves ugly scars, love leaves beautiful ones. 

~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966

Madeline knew one day the words would stop. That Ian would move on. That she would too. Today she decided it was time. Time to put away the love notes and drink a bottle of sweet wine. The autumn air is crisp and it’s close to sundown. She grabs the wine from the fridge, uncorks it and walks out to the end of the dock. She looks at Ian’s words one last time. Then starts folding the pieces of paper into little boats.

She asks herself, “where the hell did I learn to do this, and how come I still remember the process?”

She slugs the wine right out of the bottle. Figures, what the hell, there’s no one here to see her do it. To tell her no. Of course not many men have been brave enough to say that to her. She knows she can be kind of a bitch. Why does that thought bring a smile to her face? After the boats are made, Madeline rolls over and lays on her stomach. Then places the little boats in the water. The setting sun is the color of butterscotch and it makes her pale skin glow. Her fingers become chilled by the lake water, but she keeps them in it all the same.

Once the letters have all set sail, Madeline sits back up. She takes her shoes off and dangles her painted toes in the water. Her foot touches on one of the boats and pushes it further away from her. She thinks of Ian, and all of his great words. All of the sweet, sexy, dirty and sometimes hurtful things he said. Some of the words are hers too. She tries not to think about him. What he meant to her. All the wonderful things they said they would do. Really, it was her that said what they would do. He just went along with her plans.

He’s where he’s meant to be and  she’s sitting on a dock, swilling wine from the bottle and throwing away their love letters.

She says out loud to no one, “this night sure does suck!”

With the wine gone and the letters sailing away, she wishes for him one last time. Whispers to the night air that she loves him still, gets up from her spot on the dock and heads back into the house. She grabs another bottle of wine, uncorks it, and then sits at the kitchen table. She looks at her hands and then the tears begin to spill from her eyes.