Thursday, July 18, 2013

Can't Let Go

They cruised down Highway 65 with the windows down and the music turned up. In high school, they had pledged to meet up annually to take a road trip to a little lake in Branson, Missouri. Though they had both thought they had moved on since, the lake in Branson was where they had shared their first and only kiss. 

They kept in touch after high school, further developing their friendship into one of immense closeness. They went to each other for everything that meant anything.

But times were changing. 

This was likely the last trip to Branson they’d share together. He was getting married in October, and, though they were strictly friends, his fiancĂ© would surely not appreciate their trips spent in seclusion. They were well aware that the tradition was coming to an end, that their lives were likely headed in different directions. So they were determined. They were determined to make their final trip together their most memorable. 

Upon arrival, they held true to the schedule they’d always followed. But they decided to make one revision. They decided that there was no time to waste, that sleep would do nothing but bar them from spending what was likely their final true alone time together. They ventured out to the nearest gas station, bought a twelve pack of beer, found the perfect plot of land for a bonfire, and prepared to stay up until the sun rose over the lake they’d come to love. 

She was beautiful. At least he’d always thought so. She had curly blonde hair and blue eyes. He had scruffy brown hair with green eyes. She was a musician struggling to make it big. He was an accountant confined to a career of endless monotony. Despite their polar opposite personalities, they had managed to forge a friendship that once seemed unbreakable. 

The two of them spoke of fond memories from the adolescence they had spent in unison. They remembered the sneaking out. They remembered stealing their parents’ alcohol. They remembered the late night talks. They reminisced about all of the typical-of-adolescents activities they did in high school. 

Though they wouldn’t dare to openly declare it, it was quite clear that the two were in love. If they had simply dug deep and yanked their repressed emotions to the surface, a deep, passionate, mutual love would have revealed itself. But they never told each other. Even in high school, the feelings were there but they were too afraid of losing each other to take the plunge into a relationship. They struggled throughout high school, dating other people in an attempt to let go of one another. They were desperate to move on. But they couldn’t. Something perpetually drew them together. They were never quite ready to separate. 

Here they were, in what was possibly their final hoora before their worlds parted. Here they had a chance to end their friendship on the highest of notes. They had a chance to leave everything out there just one last time. 

The fire crackled under the star filled sky. They talked about their careers, their pasts, their dreams, and their futures. They talked about short lived crushes and disappointing loves. It seemed as though they had spoken about everything. But, just as they had always done, they left out the fact that they were still, and likely always would be, madly in love with each other. 

They both felt it. They still felt the butterflies whenever they’d reunite. He was never able to fight his nerves around her. She had this funny little quirk where her feet would tingle when with him. Their bodies tried to tell them what their minds refused to say. 

Just as the night began to become day, as the sun rose over the lake, he finally found the courage to speak. 

“I roll over every morning and see the woman who is set to one day be the mother of my children. She is perfect in every conceivable way. She will be the most caring wife and loving mother. But, even having said all of that, I can’t stop myself from wishing I was waking up next to you.” His heart raced as he uttered every word of his proclamation of love. He felt as though the largest weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. The truth had finally made its way to the surface. 

She was thrilled and, frankly, flattered. She took a moment, recognizing just how important her reply was. She opened her mouth to speak, but for some reason the words didn’t come out. She struggled for a few moments, trying to organize her thoughts into cohesive sentences. But she was too taken aback by the long awaited truth. She decided no words could sum up exactly how she felt. 

They stared into each other’s eyes with the fire burning behind them. They felt just as they did when they’d had their first kiss. They felt their worlds slowly moving apart, but they weren’t ready to let go. Their faces slowly inched toward each other. His nose met hers. She closed her eyes. He closed his. When their lips met, they felt as though they were fulfilling their destiny. They felt right. They first kissed with hesitation, but soon after uncovered the intimate passion that had long been buried underneath. 

As they felt their kiss coming to an end, he rubbed her neck. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pinch and a rush of pain. He looked down and saw blood dripping down his index finger. He looked at her neck and saw a necklace. It was a rose with a thorn on it. When he wiped the blood, he noticed it had made its way to a scar on his wrist. 

They spent much of their remaining time together in silence. They were both clearly overwhelmed by what had happened. They were elated knowing that there was a passionate, mutual love between them, but they recognized that there was a reality they were both expected to return to. He to his fiancĂ© and bland life. She to being alone. 

They spoke not of their kiss on the car ride home. Though they didn’t establish it, they both knew that they were sworn to secrecy. They thought they’d shared one final moment of passion, a moment they were never to speak of again. They had done something so minute, but it was something that had the ability to bring his world crashing to the ground. 

They shared a long, emotional goodbye and went their separate ways. They expected a friendship of occasional calls and, perhaps, coincidental run ins. They felt as if the passion they’d surfaced was consuming them. They were scared. They were afraid of losing each other, losing their connection. They weren’t ready to let go. 


Three months passed and his wedding day arrived. His friends and family had come from all over the world to see him enter the next stage of his life. They were elated. He appeared to be. But he knew that there was something more out there for him. He knew she was out there. He had trouble bearing the thought of living in a world without her. But he had made a commitment. He had excited his friends, his family, and everyone in his life. He knew he couldn’t leave. 

The ceremony began. It was a lush ceremony, full of luxurious ornaments and beautiful flowers. The flower girls made their way down the aisle dressed in angelic white dresses. They arrived at him and his best man, handing each a magnificent red rose. It was a family tradition to solidify a life of happiness with the symbolic flower. It represented the beautiful love that was to protect the sanctity of their marriage until death did them part. 

He nervously rubbed up and down the stem of the flower. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pinch and a rush of pain. He looked down and saw blood dripping down his index finger.  The blood slid down his finger and into his palm. He didn’t stop the stream. He stared at it as it made its way down to the scar on his wrist. 

He gazed at the scar with his mouth hanging open.

His mind traveled off far away from the chapel to the day he’d gotten the scar. He was at the lake in Branson with her. They’d just graduated from high school, so, as a means of celebration, they’d decided to rent a canoe. During their exploration of their favorite lake, she’d fallen out into the water. When his seemingly uncontrollable laughter came to an end, he reached down to help pull her back into the canoe. Once she made her way back in safely, he looked down and saw blood rolling down his index finger. He had cut his wrist on a rock in the water, but was too consumed by her adorable laugh to notice the pain. 

He stared down at the blood. The lake began to shake. She started to fade away. He looked down and saw the canoe turn into an alter. He was trembling, beginning to grow terrified. He felt his world crashing down. He felt he was being pulled out of the world in which he belonged. 

He looked over at his best man and saw that he was yanking his shoulder in an effort to regain his attention. He was back in his bland reality. He looked down at the blood on his wrist and knew exactly what he needed to do. 


When the cleaning crew came to clear the chapel, they noticed that it was unusually clean, almost as if it hadn’t been used. The workers began to take down the ornaments and throw out the flowers. One man made his way up the aisle to clear the alter. He began to pick up the flowers when he noticed a red rose among the white pedals. He saw that the stem of the rose had been stained by blood. Beside it was a gold wedding band. 


Nine months later they cruised down Highway 65 with the windows down and the music turned up, just as they had done every year since high school. They weren’t quite ready to let go. 

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