“As soon as I’m old enough, I’ll leave this town. I’ll leave it so fast, people wouldn’t even know I’m already left.”
I remembered you told me so when you were 14. I remembered you saying that while cleaning your dad’s truck. He was so strong, so healthy back then. He was the typical ranch dad that you both loved and hated. He was tought but he loved you. You knew that. But him loving you wasn’t enough to keep you from wanting to leave. Because living with him was a pain. Trust me, I knew! I was your neighbor anyway.
I remembered you were so excited for you 18th birthday. It was in June right? School just ended. You had your high school diploma in your hand. You waved it at me while riding on the back of you buddy’s truck. You told me you were leaving this town next week. You were going to a big city. I forgot which one now, but I guessed it didn’t matter anymore. You never got to go.
That day when that tree branch dropped on your dad and hit his head, it killed both your dreams and lives. A man who used to be tough, strong was then paralyzed from the waist down. What were you going to do? Leave him alone in this goddamn town while you left to go somewhere for yourself? You couldn’t do that.
He loved you. You were everything he had. And you knew you were everything he had. All the money you saved up to get away was then used to pay for his hospital bills in the city. Thanks to that, he was only paralyzed from the waist down. Our local “hospital” said he wouldn’t make it. But you were there and made sure he would make it. You always loved him more than you gave yourself credit for.
You never got a chance to go to college in the big city like you wanted. You never lived the life you deserved and I wondered how that felt. Every time I visited home, seeing you smoking your good old Camel alone next to the fence, my heart always ached a little. Knowing you could have so much more but life was hard on you.
You were good at what you do. You made good money. Your dad taught you well. Everyone in town was jealous. But they didn’t know the dream you left behind. What’s money for if you never can leave this town? Not until you still have your dad anyway.
But when you dad passed, will you still able to go? Are you still brave enough to leave everything behind and leave? When you were 18 and had nothing to your name, things weren’t so scary wasn’t it?
My oh my, I will never forget you that day on your 18th birthday. Young, brave with your blond hair shinning under the sunset waving your diploma at me, telling me you were leaving for forever. That was the happiest I have ever seen you.
I’m very afraid of falling out of love with you. But I know it will happen one day, and I’m dreading that day. It’s probably not you and it’s probably not me. It’s just that I don’t believe in ever lasting love. And when things are not ever lasting, they will have to end one day.
When it ends, my heart will break to pieces. And maybe yours as well. I will have to pick up the pieces I have left and glued them together with my memory. I will have to tell myself that it wasn’t for nothing. I spent a big part of my life with you. We couldn’t go the whole way together but that doesn’t make you any less important. It was all for something. At that time, at that moment, everything was worth it.
But one day, maybe you or I will wake up and realize that our love has ran out. We’ll have no children to worry about. We’ll have no estate to trouble. When you no longer love me, can you let me know? It won’t be easy because you can’t make up your mind. You will still need me, but you probably don’t want me anymore. And that’s when you should let me go. And if it’s me who realizes that moment, please give me a moment to gather my courage. You used to be my everything. So please give me some time to gather enough courage to let you go. I will do it, I’ll just need some time. Because we both know it isn’t easy.
Please don’t think I’m cold hearted. When the time comes and we’ll have to split, I’ll spend days afterwards crying my heart out. I won’t be able to find joy in anything for weeks to come. But it’s the kind of necessary pain. I loved you enough to let you go, because at that time, I knew you deserved someone better than me who no longer love you.
I have been talking about letting you go for a long time. But I want you to know I will only let you go when I no longer love you. There will be days I love you less than others. I won’t let you go for silly reasons like that. I’ll let us go when I try my best and can’t find anything more to give. I’ll let us go when I dig deep in my heart and realize there’s no reason to continue moving on. Only then, and only then, I’ll let us go.
He curled up on the bench with his arms wrapping tightly around himself, his hands inside the thick jacket. It was cold tonight. He could see his breaths turning into little misty clouds. He pulled down his beanie to stay warm, but still made sure that he could watch the path in front of him. Days like these were the best for hunting.
He heard footsteps. His legs twitched and the misty clouds of breaths got excited. Someone was coming. He stretched his legs out of the bench slowly and clenched the knife in his hand. Here came the prey.
I used a word generator to create prompts for myself to practice writing 100 words stories. The word this time was “Bench”.
Before this moment
I thought I knew it all:
How it felt to hit a wall
And having to crawl back,
how to cry when the joy was eminent,
how to be silent when the pain was rough
Before this moment
I thought my body could contain bliss,
And handle agony
Before this moment
Before you cried and said goodbye
While throwing your body off the bridge
Before I saw your little face disappeared into the December water
Before this moment
I thought I knew
what pain felt like
This poem is a response to the usual wonderful Tuesday Writing Prompt by Go dog Go cafe.
I used to date guys that are ashamed of me. Each of them did for a different reason.
One was ashamed of me because I didn’t speak flawless English. Sometimes, when I didn’t know the right words, I substituted or tried to explain or just simply waved my hands around. And he was ashamed of me for that, for the lack of knowledge when speaking in a non-mother tongue language. Nobody found that was a big problem but my then-boyfriend thought it was.
There was a time one of his friends from his hometown visited. We were walking and talking about TV shows. His friend was talking about the show called Scrubs. I said I never watched it before but I was wondering out loud why would a show about doctors called Scrubs? I thought Scrubs was as in scrubbing the floor. I still remembered my then boyfriend’s face of “how could you not know this?” disgust and confusion. Meanwhile, his friend just simply said “Ah, the uniform thingy that doctors and nurses wear, they were called Scrubs.” My then boyfriend asked me if I could go home first so he could hang out with his friend alone.
There was another one that thought I was too fat for an Asian girl. I wasn’t even 130 lbs. He was ashamed of me for not being skinny enough.
There was a time I was jokingly asked whether or not I was pretty, and he said “no.” Just a straight up no with nothing else following up. That was the first time ever in my life, someone I cared about told me I wasn’t pretty. And I always remembered that deeply because I believed I was pretty, then and now.
I broke up with all of the exes that was ashamed of me. Because the whole time, I always liked myself. My little tweaks of language here and there was the proof of me being fluent in two languages, enough to even have a college degree in a language that wasn’t even my mother tongue.
My little ‘chubby’ body was not at all unhealthy since my BMI was completely normal. I made all my meals. I worked out. I took good care of myself.
Despite all the strange point of views my then boyfriends had of me, I had never not loved myself. I had never not believed in myself. I was comfortable with who I was and I’m enjoying who I am. I hated the moments they made me wondered whether or not I was enough. It wasn’t like me to doubt myself, and I hated that somebody made me do that to me. I only have myself to carry with me through the rest of my life so I wanted to treat myself the best that I can.
Rose came from a rich family. Ever since I met here in college, I already knew that she was rich. Not because she was showing off but because she didn’t care much for money. And as a college student, you always care about money.
She was a romantic. She majored in psychology and then later in arts. She drew. She created things. She mad beautiful doodles that made people smiled. She fell in love multiple times. Every time as hard as the first time. And finally she found her one true love.
I never liked the ‘ultimate’ guy, but I also never truly knew why. He also came from money. He went to our same college, majoring in Political Sciences. I heard a few sketchy rumors about him but I always thought those were only rumors. The guy did great for himself. Right after college, he got into the PhD program at Yale. She didn’t even attend her own graduation, just so she could go to Yale to see him. All the things she did for him and because of him. All the times she ignored her own life so she could be on Skype with him. All those times. And she married him, when she was only 21.
She moved to the small town of Yale, so she could be with him while he was getting his career on the rise. She was only 21, and already stepping down for her husband. She got a part time job at a little retail store, and days by days just like that in the small town.
It took her a few years to get her arts mojo back. When she did, she tutored kids arts. She had a few cats and gods. She was a little pet mum that posted pictures of her pets online all the time. I always wondered if she hadn’t moved to that small town, what she would be doing now? Would she be doing something ambitious? Would she be doing something grand? She could have been the next Picasso. We’d never know.
But who I am to say? She found her one true love when she was 119 and that love came true. How many people ever got that lucky? How many feel in love as a teenager and had the gut to put it all in and received it back? What’s a little few years living in a small town in exchange for that? What’s a quite life to exchange for being happy? Some days, I just wished I was brave enough to choose the simple happiness in life. The pictures of her cats chasing each other online brought me so much joy and I could tell they did for her too. Her husband, who I always thought monopolizing her, seemed to treat her right. So I guess, what else could a girl want?
Back when I was 12, people told me 17 would be the best year of my life. Not people exactly, a movie told me 17 would be the best year of my life. It has been so long I don’t remember the title of the movie anymore. All I remember was that it was a movie about the soldiers that were sent to war. They left home at 17, the best year of their life, and many never made it back. The scene of them waving goodbye to their mothers still haunt me till today.
Then when I was 17, people told me 18 would be the best year of my life. I would be starting college and my life would change. I remembered at 18, standing in front of the gate of my new college in a foreign country. I toughed myself up and walked in, carrying with me my parents’ hope and expectations. I was so young then and so brave.
Then people told me I should celebrate my 21 hard, because that would be the best year of my life. I finally got to do everything. I had my first 21-year-old drink at my home country where I was legal since 18. I took that sip of beer in the presence of my whole family and that was enough for me. Throughout the rest of my college days, I got so much cash from all the people that asked me to buy alcohol for them and they paid me back in cash.
And then I graduated from college. I got multiple different jobs. I got a graduate degree. I got a boyfriend, then a husband. I got a promotion. I got a raise. I did many things ever since I was 21, but nobody told me about the age that should be the best year of my life anymore. And I do yearn for that some time. I wanted the days that I didn’t mind getting older, that people told me something about my own future and I believed immediately.
I remembered a Chinese saying: “if you can pick it up then you can put it down.” And I always thought that was probably one of the most dignifying things a person could do.
When I was young, I have always been proud of myself for never giving up. But the older I got, the more I realized it is way harder to let go.
If that year, I had the gut to let him go early, I wouldn’t be so hateful towards him in the end. I no longer loved him. And probably did he me. But I didn’t hate him and that was the problem. I was young and didn’t learn to let go. I was told love was for forever and I believed it. Probably so did he.
We were together for way longer than we should. We stayed because of the memories, instead of the moments. I got annoyed at him. He got annoyed at me. We snapped a little here and there, but we never fought big. So we still stayed together, because who would break up over milk cap not closed probably?
My family got some serious issues and I was upset and stressed. I was looking for him for some support but he turned me away. He basically told me to deal with it myself. Then, we broke up.
I finally did it, but you know what? I would have rather broken up over the milkcap not closed than over my heart breaking into pieces over the feeling of betrayal. I would have taken all those years back. I didn’t regret the relationship, I regretted not letting go. I picked up the relationship easily, but I didn’t have the gut to “put it down”. And it will always stay with me as a lesson from the young naive days.
I slowly dip myself into the water. I always love warm water. Anything warm actually: morning tea, thick blanket, freshly dried laundry.
I remembered my last batch of laundry. It smelled like warm apple cider. I gathered all the clothes in my arms and hugged them tightly right out of the dryer door. I sniffed the cinnamon-apple smell and cried. Not hard, just weeping silently for a little while. I will miss that.
I closed my eyes and sank down further in the bathtub. The sleeping pills should kick in soon. I felt warm.