When I Left

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story dedicated to a good friend of mine, who I hope one day finds her way, and resolves all of her problems of the past and of the present...

Submitted: April 26, 2015

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Submitted: April 26, 2015

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When I Left

 

The bed sheets ruffled gently as I crept up. With swift caution, I crossed over to the dresser and opened it, cringing as the wooden frame creaked. Hastily, I began to stuff my duffel bag with all of my clothing and my box of trinkets, which spilled out onto the floor. Cursing under my breath, I bent down and scooped them up with one, shaking hand and throwing them into the bag as well. Afterwards, I retreated back to the bed and lifted the pillow to reveal three objects; a wad of money, a handwritten letter, and a picture of my family, with my face partially torn off of the side. Shrugging away a burning sensation in my eyes, I left the money where it was, and picked up the letter and the remaining part of the photograph. I crossed over to the other side of the bed where I tucked the letter into her hands. When she would wake up the next morning, she would reach her gentle hand over and put it on the empty, cold pillow. Only then would she feel the letter crumpled slightly in her hands, with the pen from the ink bleeding through the paper and dried tears trickled over it. I hoped she would forgive me.

Closing the bedroom door, I crept in the darkness, my legs shaking from a feeling I had sensed recently that felt unpleasantly real now. I passed the bathroom, and quickly gathered my things. Now the bag was becoming heavier, weighing me down. As I reached the end of the hall, I was soaked in sweat, with my heart pulsing and the icy draft coming from an open window wafting in the air. I slid down the wall onto my bottom, where I stared hard into my hands. If someone had seen me, I imagined that I looked small and insignificant, almost like a decrepit slumped body. In my mind, I felt weak and yet still had an unnerving sense of vindication that told me I had run out of options. Yet I also wondered why and how it had come to this.

I was going back and I thought of when I had first met her; young, pretty, untouched, and yet still had a sense of what she wanted. Everything I had wanted I had found in her, and yet something still scared me; I didn’t know what I had expected out of the relationship, and was almost certainly not ready for commitment. Still, all I thought of was being something with her, and so we took the step of having the child. And at first, it seemed absolutely wonderful; it filled a space that I hadn’t known was empty. Yet the euphoria didn’t last forever. Soon, I was pinned down, first by the child, then by my job, and then the talk of marriage. It was at that moment, I had realized, that I wasn’t ready for that kind of thing. I was scared of devotion. And now, I wanted to leave.

I looked up to stare at a blank stretch of wall. I felt stronger now, although there were some tears clinging to my face. Wiping them away, I propped myself up and reached down and grabbed my bag. However, my hands were still shaking, and I dropped it quickly, where it landed with a thud on the carpeted floor. Darting my eyes back to the bedroom, I heard only a slight stir before there was silence again. With an exhalation of frigid air, I walked over nimbly and closed the window. The last whiff of air caught me like a whip. Rubbing my hands together to gather heat, I saw the bedroom door of my daughter, with her nightlight on. It reminded me that no matter how bad things had been recently, she had kept me well. Now, this was the last time she would hear my voice.

I walked into the bedroom, which I had just finished painting some weeks previously. The fresh coat sent shivers down my spine, even though it was warm in the room. The bookcase near the door was neatly organized, alphabetized, with only the favorite books stacked somewhat haphazardly near the edge of the adjoined table. Picking up the top book and turning the pages, I read silently to myself about how Curious George had turned the newspapers he was supposed to be delivering into paper boats and set them adrift on a lake. Smiling with what felt like a broken, crooked grin, I set it down and moved towards her. She was curled into a ball, halfway snuggled beneath a blanket and the edge of her pillow. I stared down, hard into her face, and all I saw was her mother. Turning my own away to stop the flow of tears, I thought it better not to wake her, and let her dream. I bent down, and, with a slight kiss on her forehead, I wiped away the last tears of the night as the first ray of sun cast itself into the room. Turning back to shield my eyes, I walked slowly away from the life I had known. And as I shut the door, I felt a sense of clarity that told me this was the only thing to do.

Taking the last few turns around the corner of the street, I stood, in the bitterly cold morning air, waiting for a bus that would take me onwards. To where, I didn’t know. Still, what was done was permanent in my mind. Turning back would be the most perfect thing in the world; and yet, I felt like the part of me that struggled to survive would die if I were to go back. Even if they had never noticed, I had, and it would always be with me. Always.


© Copyright 2019 Dan Zuniga. All rights reserved.

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