My Own Kind Of “Dear John”

Since about February of this year, an assignment from my senior year College Credit English class has been haunting me. I decided to continue to write based on its idea, and I liked where it was going. I haven’t touched that piece since February.

Tonight an overwhelming feeling to find that English assignment flooded my brain, so I got out of bed to look for it. I located my notebook from College Credit English, but after scouring its contents three times over, I knew the assignment wasn’t there. My heart sank…then something told me to look through my journals.

There it was.

I feel as though it’s important to note that the date of this journal entry was November 10, 2012, and to introduce this pesky little story, I said, “The other day in English I wrote a short story about 11 objects that the class was assigned to write. I don’t know why, but I’ve had this nagging feeling to write it in here…” Thank God I did. After the short story, I wrote, “Well, that silenced my English class. Maybe it will turn into something someday.”

I think maybe I was right.

I don’t know why, but it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep and my blog has actually become something, so I thought I’d share my very first plunge into the world of fiction writing. The original short story is in italics and my addition from earlier this year is in regular type:

 

In the garage, next to his hammer and tape measure, John keeps an old box held together with electrical tape. Memories rest inside; memories he longs to forget but loves to remember. He pulls out the ticket stub from their first date together. Is he foolish to have kept it all this time?

Next John stumbles upon the tissue stained with her kiss. He remembers the winter that left him sicker than a dog, lonely without her kisses. Only she would do something so quirky to cheer him up.

The empty CD case is hollow lying in the box – just like John feels. He yearns to remember the last place he listened to it, but he can’t.

Cradled in an old rag, her favorite lip-gloss shimmers, bringing back visions of her perfect, full lips. He still misses her, that isn’t even a question.

 Next to the calculator on his workbench, John spots the lighter. It’s now or never; he doesn’t want to live like this anymore. Before igniting the memories, he rescues the journal, his account of the best years of his life…

A long time ago, he felt alive for the first time. And although he won’t admit it out loud, nothing and no one has ever made John feel that way again in the past 25 years. Sometimes he still remembers her smile and her eyes, but he pushes it away.

That isn’t the life John chose.

He wanted her so bad, all the time, back then, and those feelings occasionally surge back to the surface. But he let her go.

A tear slips as he remembers what happened to her, and guilt bubbles somewhere deep inside of him. He blames her for the fallout, fully knowing he’s wrong.

She wasn’t perfect, but she was as perfect as any angel on this earth could be. And she was so full of life, until one day she wasn’t. John didn’t know why back then, but today with a hardened, tear-stained face, he knows that it was him who sucked the life out of her and gave her no choice.

He gave her no choice to but to run and rebel and fall victim to everything that consumed the girl he fell in love with. Only now, 25 years later, John knows that he was the only one who could ever bring that girl back, if only he would’ve had the courage to love her.

The frame holding her picture crashes to the floor, doing no further damage, for the glass has already been broken during other nights like these. Even after all these years, she’s still everywhere and still the most beautiful girl in the world.

Sometimes he’ll read something about her, and it always makes him happy to see her doing so well for herself. Her children have her bold smile, and her husband selflessly takes care of them all. At that, John dies inside, because once, a long, long time ago, that was supposed to be him. All he has left is a box of ashes and an empty hunger for what was right in front of him when she was his.

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