Someone Like You

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by Ann Sepino

Written in 2016.

I didn't expect to find the photo, but one grab of the large cardboard box, and it bounced out from the stool it was on.

I heard that you're settled down

The photo was on its front, hiding the memory from me. But I reached down and picked it up, part of me knowing what I'd find. That emotion creeped up; some sort of fear raising like a tidal wave. Curving against my mind, coming from the back of my head.

That you found a girl and you're married now

I had picked it up, and turned it over. Every part of me, every organ, every tendon, freezing. Partially paralyzed. 

I heard that your dreams came true.
Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you.

It was the time we went fishing, each one of us holding our catch; his much bigger than mine.

I smiled. At the memory. At us.

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited

My hand extended, holding the photo. One thumb running along his face, a plane of glass separating my touch. 

But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.

Tears swelled at the bottom of my vision. Here we were, here I was... Back again.

I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over.

I bowed into one hand, and the photo dropped from the other, leaving me to hold my face with both hands.

"Echo," I called out to the device, perched on an old and dusty dresser near the attic window. "Stop playing."

Old friend, why are you so shy?

And then silence, the music stopping. Finally.

I tried to breathe, but the sadness came in a wave. Choking me, chopping up my breath and releasing it in clips of sound. My sleeve-covered hands pressed deep into my eyes, surely smearing makeup. Why had I put any on? It wasn't like I was going outside anytime soon...

I'd been cooped up, every pass into the hallway bringing my eyes to pictures I had laid to rest. Faced them down on the table.

A line of the song that had been playing came back to me. Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you. And maybe that was true. Maybe he had moved on. But for me... it wasn't over. It wasn't like I could just snap my fingers and all of it would go away. It wasn't like I could just check his Facebook and his relationship status would be "single," or better yet, tied to mine.

Don't forget me, I beg

But he had. He had forgottenThat's what hurt the most. His photos, his status updates, all made public. Even after the block he'd given me, after his girlfriend told me to stay away... Everything was suddenly made public. As if he'd wanted me to see, wanted me to peer in and be reminded of him. Big fishing catches and all.

Our friendaversary was coming up. May 7th, six months from now. So soon, huh?

"Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead"

That damn song kept playing in my head, so with another call to my Amazon Echo, it started up again, right from where it left off. And my hands lowered, sight returning to me as a blur then as a clear perspective. Seeing all these damn boxes, things I still hadn't unpacked from when I moved in here at the beginning of the year

Why was I doing this, in the middle of November? Well, I decided it was time for a change. So I decided to stop all the re-runs of FRIENDS, episodes I'd seen at least five times, and get off my butt. Start to change, and then maybe the world around me would cease to be static as well.

It was worth a shot, anyway.

So I started moving boxes, sorting KITCHEN APPLIANCES away from BATHROOM. And after moving a box on a stool, that photo popped out and bounced down. Thank God nothing had cracked.

I lifted the small protectors that keep the photo's back intact, and opened up the door. Grabbing the photo, seeing it without a dusty glass protector. I blew on it, eradicating the dust. Making something brand new again, or close to it.

I missed him. That much I knew.

I just didn't know what to do with it, those emotions. Sometimes I would battle with myself, but days later, I'd see him around town again. And like a flower, seeds would sprout, buds would open up, and something would be re-birthed.

It just wasn't easy to face, the burial and the resurrection. 

You know how the time flies
Only yesterday was the time of our lives

I flipped the photo over, seeing the date scrawled on one corner.

1st fishing trip.

6/21/16

I smiled. I couldn't help it. And then the tears struck my sight again.


I went into the kitchen, box in hands, and set the big ol' thing on the corner. Withdrawing the coffee pot and plugging it in. As water heated, I thought back. Staring at a machine I hadn't used in months. Truthfully, I don't know how I lived without this thing. I'd switched to peppermint tea infused with stevia; coffee... just stirred up too many memories.

I used the thin, wooden stirrer, mixing in cream and stevia. I looked down, as I did it, my eyes staring directly into the center of the whirlpool. Watching the liquid continue 'round and 'round. 

I listened to that song again, when I got back into the attic. 

We were born and raised
In a summer haze

I listened, and I thought of that photo. Taken in the dead of summer.

I tried to smile past the pain. I really did.


Nothing compares
No worries or cares
Regrets and mistakes
They are memories made.

I shook out the lighter I'd lit, hanging out at the front of my house. On the porch, spider-webbed lamp lit and currently attracting moths. I watched them gather, two of them at opposite corners, and I tried to smile. It was merely a ghost of an expression, but I had tried nonetheless.

I tried to listen to Adele's words, now playing from one headphone, plugged into my old iPod Classic. A dark, black device I used to hook up to his AUX. A device I used to play so many songs from. 

I still had the playlist I'd made, for when we were together in his car. And, for a half-hour, things were perfect. I remembered the way he'd smiled at me, sunglass-covered face hit with sunlight. I'd loved him, and somethings just don't change.

They just get more painful.


I met him at the beginning of my final year at college. 

We were partnered together, in an advanced Chemistry class, so I guess you can say we had chemistry together.

No? No laughter? Guess it's only me that finds it funny.

It's ironic, too, when you think about it.

He introduced himself first, holding out a hand I gently shook. And just looking at him... I was struck instantly. He was gorgeous, for one, sandy-brown hair and gentle blue eyes.

Our first song was listened with one set of earbuds, the left plugged into my left and the right plugged into his right. Bitter Sweet Symphony, The Verve.

I smiled at him, both of us knowing we should've been doing the assigned in-class work. But just one look to his face, how it shaped into a smile that matched mine, and it was all worth it. Including the flack we'd gotten from the teacher.


We spent our first car ride in half silence, half tuned into The Bravery. I'd asked, halfway to my house, if I could play something from his AUX player. And he'd nodded, apparently thankful for the escape I'd given him. Something to listen to besides the hum of his engine and roll of his tires. Fairly sure he had a flat, but I wasn't about to point it out to him. I was nervous, shy as is.

So give me something to believe

'Cause I am living just to breathe,

and I need something more

to keep on breathin' for

So give me something to believe

I smiled, settling and slumping down in my passenger seat. I knew this song on guitar, not that I was about to brag or anything. 

I just liked music, that's all.


I wiped the tears from my face. Something that counteracted the smile on my lips. Lips that hadn't yet tasted this coffee, but lips that gently repeated what I'd say to him, just months ago.

"I love you."

And the expression I had gotten... The surprise and the way he'd looked away, out into the neighborhood and the darkness the night crafted. The way he thought about what I'd said, and the way he deflected it all. Like the way a beam of light hit a mirror. 

Just deflected everything. 

He ran, and he hadn't come back.

I'd contacted him once. Just once. A nicely-crafted, carefully-worded message about how I'd been wondering what he'd been up to, and that I'd been thinking about him. Nothing to get his girlfriend wiled up in her response. A "leave him alone" and "he doesn't want to talk with you." They both stung.

They always would.


I got a message a day later. A third-of-the-way into my third coffee of the day. Even if it was noontime. 

Hey,

I just ran into an old photo, and it made me think of you. How've you been?

- Kody

I stared at that message for the longest of times. The bar at the top of the window was flashing, signifying that the message had been sent but not read. I dragged my mouse over and clicked on his message, stopping the blinking and signalling that I was reading it. Or I had read it, given my situation.

Why him?

Why now?

My wounds were still healing, scabs healing over into scars and scars sinking into clear flesh. But he'd just ripped me open again, a hatchet to the gut. Spilling out my entrails with that message.

How've you been?

Fucking fantastic, thanks to you, I nearly sent, but intelligence made me backspace what I'd written.

Should I send it to him? It was like placing an apple on my head and giving him the bow-and-arrow. Was it worth the possible mistake, ending in an arrow to the head?

I took a deep breath, and attached the file. No context, no "I wrote this about you, for an English assignment." Nothing.

I hit send, and waited.


I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I'd hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over.


One day, eighteen hours later, I got my reply.

Judy,

I'm not sure what to say. I'm speechless, actually. I've double-checked my grammar (not once, but twice!) and this is the best response I could come up with.

Thank you.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I've been searching for a reason not to kill myself, and this is it. What you wrote about me--about US--is nothing short of flattering. So thank you.

It must have taken a lot of guts to send this, but I know you're a fighter and that you do what's right. I heard you got a promotion at that publishing company you work for. Nice.

Hoping we can catch up soon,

Kody

And there it was. The response of my dreams. My eyes welled with tears again, and I almost broke down. In happiness, in love.

He was everything to me, and he'd presented himself on a silver platter.

I checked his relationship status, heartbeat pounding in the base of my throat.

Single.


We met at a nice diner downtown. The town we'd both grown up in, the one we'd lived in but never knew until we'd met at UCLA. 

We met at Mel's, and I stepped in expecting the worst. That he wouldn't show up, that he brought his girlfriend and their family?

But I just remembered how his relationship status changed, and that brought a smile to my face.

"Judy!"

I looked up, seeing him wave from a booth right by the window. He knew my love for windows, that's for sure.

A smile blossomed. I couldn't keep it down. And his hand lowered, returning to the table. To the silverware he'd already organized. Knife, fork, and spoon instead of the usual knife, spoon, and fork.

A goofball, that's what he was. And now, a goofball with a beard.

Everything came pouring back, and I couldn't help the exclaimed words that fell from my mouth.

"What is that on your face?"

He touched the point of his beard, a short thing near his hair-covered chin. "It's called a beard, little miss hairless."

I laughed; a throw-your-head-back kind of laugh that got him laughing too. A polite, kind chuckle. One that sent a warmth to my gut.

I'd missed him

That was a given.


We stumbled out into the cold laughing. Arm around one another, and he clicked the keys of his truck, bringing the lights to a flashing life.

I'd missed that thing, AUX player and all.

"So what's next?" Kody asked, uncurling his arm from me. Breaking away and leaving me without heat, without the scent of him.

I looked to his car for a brief moment, brain catching up and bringing me to the present. What's next?

"?movie?"

I looked over at him, and my mind worked again.

I nodded, smiling wide.

"I'd love to do a movie."

So we climbed inside the old thing, leaving my red Corolla to the parking lot of Mel's. We settled on a feel-good film, both of us too chicken for a scary movie. But cuddling could ensue, with the latter...

Strike that: Goodbye Christopher Robin was a total cuddle movie. He placed his hand on mine, and I did the "stretching-yawn" for him. Wrapping my arm around his shoulders, turning to look over with a smile. And we both busted up laughing.

It was good to be back.

It was good to smile again, the expression coming back at first like a ghost but then like I was meeting an old friend.

It felt good, to feel good.


He dropped me off at my car, waiting until I'd unlocked and my backlights were patiently waiting for him to move so I could pull out. And he drove away with a saluting wave--salute first, then a wave. 

It'd been our thing. Our goodbye.

I returned it, hoping he could see. And then with a smile, he drove off. A cloud of heaven had come to me, and I was currently in its fog.

I loved life. I really did.


Hey! I had a great time yesterday.

Normal Kody messages. I smiled from the rim of my coffee mug, and tapped the right keys on my laptop. Spelling out the right words, the right phrases.

I did too, lol. It was great seeing you!

A checkmark told me he'd seen the message, and then I settled back, waiting for those three dots (aka: ellipsis) to go away. When they did, I had a new message.

Totally! We should hangout again.

I thought back to the theater, how we'd spent most of the movie huddled together, my head on his shoulder and his hand entwined with mine.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you two 

I smiled, thinking back to his relationship status. How it all seemed to be coming together, him and I. I just wish I knew what had happened to his old girlfriend.

Whose whereabouts I didn't really care for, but it was a thought just the same.

He came over for dinner, one night. About four days after our trip to Mel's and the theater. I made buffalo chicken, a favorite of ours. And wine to split, a mascato blend I'd picked up from the local store. It was a small town, our town, but it was a quaint village nonetheless. A market here, a post office there. 

It was our neck of the woods, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


He brought her up when we were on the front porch, on the swing with wine glasses in each of our hands. His half-drank, mine mostly gone. We'd been silent, for the past few moments, and I'd taken to my share of the moscoto. Pouring a new glass from the bottle at our feet.

I was nervous, the air around us thick. Each of us refusing to say what was on our minds.

What's next?

Was there something there, between us? Am I reading this wrong?

Was I?

I snuck a glance, I snuck a peek at him as he sipped his wine. His eyes darted over, but before they could meet mine, I'd looked down. Away from him. 

"Something on your mind?"

The question I should've asked, dammit!

"Kind of," I said honestly, lowering the glass from my lips. Lips painted with red.

"What..." And then my sentence stopped there. Dead, like a roadkill in the street. And every car that passed over just reinforced that initial hit.

It hurt, being so far and so close at the same time.

I knew I was being dramatic, with the thoughts coming to me. But I couldn't help it. I couldn't hold back, so I said what was on my mind.

"What... are we?"

He swallowed down the last of the wine, looking out past me, into the starry sky.

"We're..." One shoulder shrugged; a weak sentiment. 

"We're us," he finished, looking at me again. Looking down to his wine, an empty glass he swirled.

"Does that make sense?"

I politely shook my head, still staring at him with makeup-laced eyes. I'd gotten dolled up, for him, and it was a change I'd always welcomed, when he came around. I was made in my best image.

Not that he had to know. For all he knew, this was normal me. This was nice Judy, this was carefree Judy.

So I smiled, watching him turn down to stare at his feet. 

"We're... Who we've always been. Friends but never anything more. When you... confessed, when you told me what you did, I was at a bad time in my life. I was on the brink of suicide, and I couldn't return those feelings you'd displayed for me.

He took a deep sigh, pulling in his breath and softly letting it out.

"Maryland..." he continued, and it hurt, hearing her name. "She helped me out of it, and I'll always be grateful. But that letter, that story you sent me..." He struggled for the right word, blue eyes looking up as I placed the right word in his mouth.

"Autobiography, right," he continued, nodding once. "It... changed me. I didn't know anyone could care that much. About me."

I tried to think of the right response, but only had three words.

Here we go.

"I love you," I said. And maybe it was too soon, maybe I was a loon that had just found a picture. But those words rang true, as they always would.

I'd never stop fighting. I'd never stop loving.

Like a famous songwriter had said, "Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead."

And this was the pain. Here comes the heartbreak, again, I was sure.

"I..." Kody swallowed, looking back down to his feet. Towards my skirt-covered legs and the empty bottle of miscato. "I feel the same." He looked up, looked right at me. "I always have."

And my life was made.


We married on July 18th, 2018. It was a day that ruled over all days; a celebration of the best kind. And I'd never be able to thank him enough, for choosing me over everyone else. For responding to my plea with a battle cry. A sign he'd always be there.

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I'd hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over.

That song played, as I unpacked boxes from the attic. Making room for another bedroom, a room for our soon-to-be-born daughters. Just a few more months, and we'd officially be parents.

I wouldn't trade anything. The heartaches, the space that rested in between us for all those months. I wouldn't trade it all.

After all, it's the losses that make the wins wonderful. It's always has been that way.


Submitted: October 19, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Ann Sepino

Love stories with happy endings are always the best. ^w^ I'm glad MC was brave enough to keep holding on and be honest with her feelings. I like this story a lot!

Tue, October 20th, 2020 2:00pm

Author
Reply

Ah thank you so much :-) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Tue, October 20th, 2020 12:46pm

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