Submitted Date 02/25/2019

"You sure you're ok?" He asked her, sitting beside her in the car at twelve in the morning. It was just them two and the sound of salty waves rolling and crashing a few feet away. Dewdrops from the salty mist coated the car, leaving them with just cold evaporation and the low hum of static from the radio trying a little too hard to find a signal.

"Yea, course." She said, lifting up a limp fry from their late-night drive-thru run. It wasn't like the rest, anymore. She felt it would be their last. Her stomach whirled with the waves, leaving her nauseous. She was leaving him. She had a lingering feeling from someone else for weeks now, someone she knew she couldn't be with anyway, but the feeling was eating away at her. How could she try to be with another like this? It wasn't right.

"Sure." He smirked, "are you happy, though?" His face hardened again as he stared straight ahead into the darkness and the low light of the moon over the ocean. She saw it in the corner of her eyes, and she felt him beside her melting away. She felt the moment melting away. Turning as cold as the frostbitten temperature outside. She felt frozen.

They spoke for a while, she let out some laughs for his reassurance whenever he would genuinely laugh to some remarks as well. He was still her best friend. After a few minutes, he asked again for some reassurance on her happiness.

"I'm fine, I'm laughing, what's the problem?" She replied.

"Yeah, you're laughing."

"Yea a lot."

"You don't laugh a lot." He shot back.

"What do you mean?"

"They're not actual laughs."

"And what does that mean?"

"You laugh a lot to cover things up. I've always noticed. You do it to reassure others that you're ok. And you laugh a lot but it's nervous laughter."

"Okay, hey."

"You have walls. Physical, emotional, self walls." He continued, "you're very reluctant to let others in. But you're also really self-aware…so I guess you know that."

There was another silence between them. The tide was moving closer. She didn't have anything to say. She knew she had nervous laughter, sure, but the fact that he was confronting her about this after a few months of knowing her, and working with her, she felt exposed and tired. Tired because it seemed like either her attempts at trying to reassure everyone around her how happy and OK she was never worked. Unless it was just him who could see through her, which he always was able to.

He put the keys back into the car's ignition and it let out a low moan and slowly shook to a start, shaking off the dew drops and the calmed air that surrounded itself around them like a shield.

"I'm heading back, okay?"

She didn't reply, just starred back down at her now cold fry and let it happen. She let the roads guide them back home with the static radio station unfolding in their trail. She let the moment sink in and braced herself for the loneliness she was pushing her self into.

Here was a guy who loved her, who she could not bring herself to keep being with because of a nagging feeling in her heart towards another who left her without an explanation. It's only fair, she thought, she felt like she deserved to be alone. She couldn't do this. Not to him. Not to herself. Even when she wanted to shake the remnants of a last fleeting relationship away so she could move forward with someone who she saw all the light and goodness in, it was as if her heart would not budge, would not let a memory go, not because it was saddened anymore, but because even her own organs believed with their very core that she deserved to be alone. That she didn't deserve the light and the good and the care of someone so pure.

She let the moment consume her and braced herself for a stiff bed and the bitterness of regret that she knew she would have to deal with and muddle through. She had no one to run to, but she was tired of feeling the need to run to someone, anyway. Her cravings reassured her that the only relationship she needed was her, her lighter and her pack of cigarettes at five in the lonely mornings before anyone else stirred awake to a hot cup of tea or coffee and a kiss.

He always knew her more than she did herself, but it scared her, too. And although he was without a doubt the best person she ever had the blessing to stumble upon in her life, her mind ran through streams of thoughts every time they were together and he would crack a dimpled smile and tell her he'd make her a cup of coffee, she's continue to think she didn't deserve that, anything. He would bring her gifts and check up on her throughout the day, making sure everything was OK despite the way she hurt him constantly or pushed him away. He would show her things, take her new places, he would want to see and experience things with her and her core kept reeling away. There was something inside of her that thought love was poison. Like she'd break out in hives and her throat would close to someone who wanted to just make her smile. She couldn't let him in, and it killed her.

Every relationship was the shape of a golden heart locket of new beginnings strapped around her neck or an intricate charm bracelet fastened to her wrist. Shiny little innocent new things. But in her mind, each one was embedded with a hidden time bomb, planted and powered by her skepticisms. There were times she would try to forget about an inevitable end. Her anxiety told her that every beginning is the start to a predetermined ending.

It's the explosion waiting in the crook of the locket beside her heart, ticking. Somedays the ticks were louder. Someday's she'd forget she was even wearing a doomed locket.

There were times when she'd rather have the explosion consume her, to replace all the emotional pain of being left and alone, with the physical. These times were almost all the time.

As she got out of the car and walked up to her apartment room, throwing the fries down in the trash, she wondered why she always did this. Why did she destroy every beautiful beginning to avoid a possible horrible ending? She only made horrible endings happen. Why did she have to predetermine the worst every time?

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  • Mary Jaimes-Serrano 2 years, 5 months ago

    Melanie, this is beautifully said. I think often people build up self-imposed walls to avoid the predetermined ends. This is programming that so many have because of past relationships, past pains, past losses. Unfortunately, it also becomes future pains, and losses, and destruction. Thank you so much for sharing this piece. Have a wonderful week.

  • Tomas Chough 2 years, 5 months ago

    This is a very creative story. Self-sabotage is the worst. Thanks for sharing Melanie!