Tales of a Partitioned Heart
I sit in front of my closet, take a deep breath, and start taking everything out. I’ve been meaning to do this for months now but finally have the time and energy to do it today. Underneath the piles of assorted clothing and purses, I stumble across my memory box. I run my fingers over its brown lid and smile as I open it. All my prized possessions from throughout the years reside in this box. Seashells from my first trip to Virginia Beach, my mother’s wedding rings, and pictures from throughout my high school years all tucked away for safe keeping. I laugh when I see a picture of my friends Sarah, Britney, and me. Looking back I have no clue what I was thinking dying my hair that color and wearing that outfit. I skim a few more photos and my smile fades as my hands fall on one picture in particular. It’s one of those print out picture strips from a picture booth. Plastered in front of me underneath laminate are four silly poses of me and what seems like a distant memory.
Since I moved into the new house everyone treats me like a leper, like somehow being poor is contagious. I never had much growing up. Mom did the best she could while being a married yet single parent, but things were tough. Dad was just a figurehead to me. I seen him often but he was never really there in the ways a father should be. If it weren’t for gram, mom and I would have been out on the street a long time ago. It wasn’t until after my parents divorced and my mom switched jobs that things started looking up. Dating her boss and him moving in with us didn’t hurt our situation much either. But when you grow up in a two bed room trailer and people know it, it doesn’t matter how much your situation changes. Everyone tends to look at me a different, everyone except for Highland that is. It’s nice to have somebody to talk to on the long bus ride home.
The bus lets us off and we make our way to my house, dark clouds rolling in overhead. Highland is quiet and I know that something is on her mind. Neither of us have to say a word, I already know what it is.
“So,” I say with a smile, “my mom doesn’t come home until around six and it’s only about three o’clock now. That leaves us with three whole hours of the house to ourselves, a whole gallon of ice cream for us to eat and some time to squeeze in a movie.”
“Sounds good to me.” Highland says. She looks at me with a smile that doesn’t quite meet her eyes. It’s days like these that I could kill her father. I know today is his day off and that means he’d already be drunk by the time she got home. I also know that Adam was going to a friend’s house today, leaving Highland free to get away for a while without having to worry about her brother. What better opportunity than today to get her away from her dad for a little while? Any opportunity I can get to keep her away from her family, I take, as horrible as that sounds. I know how much she hates being home though, especially when her father’s home.
We throw our bags on the couch and kick off our shoes. I go into the kitchen to grab some bowls of ice cream. I come back into the living room and Highland is nowhere to be found.
“Highland?” I call out as I walk into the dining room. I notice the sliding glass door is open leading off to the back porch and that the rain is steadily falling. I look into the back yard and see Highland sitting on the ground with her head tilted toward the sky. I put the bowls of icecream down on the dining room table and walk out into the rain next to her without saying a word.
“I love the rain.” She says, breaking the silence. “It makes me forget about everything.”
I look at her and it’s like seeing her for the first time. Maybe it’s the way her wet wavy hair frames her face? Or the way her soaked light blue t-shirt is clinging to her? Could it be the way her sun kissed skin glistens beneath the raindrops? Whatever it is, I am suddenly aware of her. Everything is so heightened; it feels like there’s electricity surging through me when my arm gently touches hers, the scent of her skin makes my mouth water, and her lips look unbelievably full and soft. Our eyes meet and I look away from her, afraid she’ll know what I’m thinking. Afraid she’ll know that I have fallen in love with her and this newfound attraction that I have never known before.
Tears sting my eyes as I rise to my feet with the picture and box in hand.
Get a hold of yourself Trinity
After all this time, and all the anger I built up over the years, I never thought it would hurt this much. I thought that now, at the age of twenty-one, I could put my high school years behind me. I thought finding love again would prove that what I once thought was love is nothing more than a fling, an experiment, anything but real. But now after five years, five long years, I still can’t seem to let go of Highland. She was my best friend, my confidant, and my rock for so many years. I could lie to myself and say that things changed that day in the rain, but I know it would be a lie. Things changed between us long before then. I miss the simple days before everything became complicated, before she stole my heart. I find myself wondering how she is doing. Does she think of me? Would she pick up if I called her? Then I hear the front door open in the living room and footsteps coming toward my bedroom. Quickly I put the picture back into my memory box, wipe my eyes, and try my best to act casual.
“Hey baby.” Aiden says, bending down kissing me gently on the lips.
“Hey. How was your day at work?” I ask with a smile.
“It was pretty good. I did a workshop with the kids today.”
“That’s good, I know the workshops are your favorite.”
“What’re you doing Trin?”
“Oh nothing, I’m just tidying up a little bit. Let me put some of this stuff into a bag to give to good will and I’ll get supper started. I know you’re probably hungry.”
“You sure baby? I can start supper if you want me to.”
“No it’s okay.” I insist, “Could you just go out into the pantry and get the lasagna noodles for me?”
“Yeah, of course my love.” He says before leaning down for another kiss and walking out of the bedroom. I put the box back on my bookshelf on the very bottom and pile books on top of it in hopes that maybe, just maybe, they will be heavy enough to keep the memories locked away. In theory, memory boxes are a good idea, but only if you want to keep the memories. After putting the clothes into the bags I drag them down the hall and into the dining room. On the table I see a bouquet of red roses and smile as I feel arms wrap around me from behind.
“What are those for?” I ask turning my head toward Aiden.
“Just for being you.” He answers, kissing me on my neck. I lean back into his embrace.
“I love you.” He says softly with his half smile I adore.
“I love you too.” I respond, as I swallow the lump of guilt in my throat.
“I don’t deserve you” is what I should have said….
Bethany Lynn Vine ©