Sunday, October 10, 2010
Love Is A Rose
Katie walked slowly near the river's edge as the lowering sun still warmed her skin and cast its amber reflection across the moving water. It was late September and in another hour the sun would be down and the evening chill would move in quickly. She was glad she remembered to bring her jacket from the car, she'd need it soon if he stalled much longer in meeting her. Having it tied around her waist produced a swooshing sound as she walked and it reminded her of the calming sound the dryer used to make as it hummed in action on the other side of their house. Fresh tears began falling as she remembered some of the good moments they had shared. The five page letter he wrote to her was still clutched in her left hand, wrinkled from the wear of being read no less than a dozen times.
She stopped walking and raised her arm to wipe away the tears. She used the back of her hand, and as she did this the bottom of the letter brushed against the hair on her forehead. She could smell him. The scent of his skin, the cologne he wore, the shampoo he used... it all lived within those sheets of paper. She buried her nose inside the crumpled letter and inhaled deeply. The moment was too much and she began crying uncontrollably. What had she done? How had she allowed herself to do so much damage to such a wonderful person? She didn't deserve this final goodbye rendezvous at the park, or the farewell hug that would surely follow, and possibly one last kiss. She didn't deserve the five page letter full of all the reasons she made him smile. She didn't deserve the poem on page three or the love list on page four that creatively resembled the shape of a heart. What she deserved was nothing, and yet here he was giving her everything.
She pulled the soggy letter away from her face and used her jacket to clear away the salt-filled sadness. She began walking again, moving closer to the spot where they had first kissed. In the letter he instructed her to stand there and wait for him, that he would show her how much he always loved her, but also that he was finally willing to let go. He said he understood now, and that even though the pain and confusion was difficult to overcome, he understood that he needed to let go. He only wanted her to be happy, as cliche as it sounded. He was a good man and a good boyfriend. His loyalty to her was more than she had ever known and she fucked it all up through repeated affairs. She couldn't help it, it was etched in her genetic code. Her mother was a cheater, her father too, her sisters and even her friends... all cheaters. She thought she could escape it, she thought she could be true to someone if they were true to her. Turns out this wasn't the case.
She arrived at the spot of their first kiss. A grove of towering trees encircled an open area covered with fallen leaves. The last remaining sunlight filtered through the branches like straightened strands of golden string, and the air grew crisp and quiet. The sound of the river against the shoreline could be heard as with the occasional passing car on the bridge overhead. A green park bench faced the river, the very same bench where they first sat so long ago and talked until their asses went numb. That ass-numbing conversation lead to their first kiss, and that first kiss lead to a four year relationship. Katie stood there staring at the bench remembering how tightly he held onto her that evening as they kissed. The same dizzy feeling and ringing in her ears it had produced came rushing back to her now, it was as though she was being kissed again for the first time. A shiver raced through her body as she shook the sweet memory from her head and walked over to the bench and sat down.
She noticed a small package resting underneath and leaned down to retrieve it. It had her name written on it in his handwriting. She quickly removed the brown paper to reveal a plain white box, which she opened. Inside was a single rose, a cupcake and a camcorder.. their camcorder. Attached to it was a note that read: Play Me. Her mind was thinking too many thoughts at once, part of her was screaming not to play it, another part promised it was probably nothing. Maybe showing up in person was too much for him? Maybe this was his absentee farewell? She flipped out the LCD screen and nervously hit play on the side panel. His face appeared on the tiny screen and started speaking, "Hey there, you. If you're watching me right now then I know you got my letter. I'm glad you came, Katie, there's one last thing I want to show you before you move on in life. Hang on, I'll be right back..."
The video of his face faded to black. The evening grew uncomfortably quiet. She continued staring at the screen as it faded back in, this time to footage of her getting pounded by her latest affair. He was on top of her while she lay on her back, her legs wrapped around and held by his arms. He was fucking her furiously and he kept looking back at the camcorder, grinning and nodding. The video faded back to black. A tight knot formed in her belly and suddenly she was aware of how cold it was outside. She wished she had her jacket on. The trees felt like a furious presence looking down on her, she half expected them to beat her with their outstretched limbs at any moment. The video faded back in again and his face reappeared and he started speaking, "By now you realize I found your sex tapes. Yes, all of them. You lied to me, Katie, about everything. You fucked them in our own bed, on our own sofa where we used to sit watching TV with your son. You lied to those other guys as well, but don't worry, love, I introduced them all to each other. I made copies." She started crying again and her stomach twisted and churned as she continued watching the tape, "In the letter I said I forgave you, and it's true I really do, but you gotta do one last thing for me, love. Okay? Now press stop on the camcorder, then turn it around and hit record, and use the camera's zoom to find the fire inside my heart. I'll see you soon." Click.
With trembling hands and tear-filled eyes she did as instructed. Twice she had to wipe tears away from the viewfinder as she scanned all around the river. She stood up from the bench and continued searching. What was she looking for? What did he mean, the fire inside his heart? Was he being ambiguous or metaphorical like in his writing? Of course he was, he always spoke in riddles. She didn't know where to look, she just wanted this to be over... then suddenly, high above and to her right, she heard a loud crackling and sizzling sound. It was a bright glowing ball of light floating near the bridge. She couldn't make out what it was so she quickly focused the camcorder in its direction and zoomed in. It was him. He was standing on the bridge edge waving a road flare. He was wearing the Modest Mouse t-shirt she bought him at their first concert and he looked somewhat peaceful behind the red glow of the spitting fire. He was staring straight down at her, his eyes fixed on hers, and he was smiling in such a way that seemed to say, "It's ok, love." He used to tell her that constantly.
He broke his gaze from her and then tossed the flare from the bridge. Instinctively, she followed it's descent with the camcorder, recording it's downward path and the splash as it hit the water. It hissed and smoke appeared and was carried away with the current. And without warning or expectation, she witnessed through the tiny viewfinder his body enter the river in the exact same spot, creating such a splash and ear-cracking smack that she screamed and tripped backwards over the bench and fell to the ground. Her heart was racing and her throat closed and she couldn't breathe or yell for help. She lay there in the dirt and leaves crying and shaking, staring at the spot in the river where he had disappeared. The camcorder rest on the ground a few feet away recording the sobbing remorse of a girl with flawed DNA. And up on the green park bench, just above the tears and sorrow, was a white box with a rose and cupcake inside, and hidden inside that cupcake was a diamond engagement ring with the words "Love Is A Rose" engraved in the band.