If you cannot come back, can you at least remember?
| It couldn't be helped; I was compelled. Instead of taking that turn onto the highway and going to the store I kept going straight. Normally I would not deviate from my schedule; being self employed, I had to practice self discipline. Especially at 18 years old. But this was different; this was sheer desperation. This was the release of building emotions and the need to reminisce finally finding the surface of my heart. This was the need to cry and fall to my knees. This was the need to remember.
As I sat at the red light I looked at the landscapes around me. How familiar they all seemed. Time itself seemed to rewind and, for a moment, I could almost feel him there. Part of me wanted to reach out and touch him or say something. But I knew the moment I did and no response resounded, the moment would be lost. In the corner of my mind I was afraid to look into the passenger side seat, for fear that he may be sitting there. I could not place my arm on its rest, for fear of feeling the warm touch of his fingers on mine.
Rigidly I drove on, slightly shaken by a new presence which filled the air. Memories flooded my head as I glanced to and fro at the landmarks that had so vividly etched themselves into my brain. There was the gas station we always stopped at for a soda and some gum. The old oak tree in the school yard whose ancient branches extended towards the heavens.
"If you reach the top," Thomas had told me once, "you can see the angels as they fly by overhead."
He was always telling me stories, and I was always believing them. Once he was a pirate come to make me walk the plank. That was, unless I kissed him first. One simple kiss from a fair maiden would break the curse of the evil pirate and let his heart love again.
The creativity never ceased to flow from him. His voice carried stories of every kind from the air straight to the imagination. I was captivated by him; totally entranced and totally in love.
And yet we fell apart. There it was, the place that did us in. Commons Park. It was a small forrested area on the edge of the lake where Tom told me once that the water was shallow and rocky, yet every attempt to commit suicide there had been a failure.
"Could you imagine?" he asked, looking at me, "Jumping in and then coming up with a bad head ache and saying 'I'm such a loser I can't even kill myself right!'?"
I laughed so hard. Never had I thought suicide a funny topic, but when he said it, anything was funny. He kissed me and we walked back to the car, for a storm had begun moving in.
That was the last time we were ever together. In the days to follow a change in heart would take place that would rip our perfect love apart. I would break his poor heart, and leave him with nothing after giving everything he had. There would be a falling out, a fight, and finally, in a fit of rage, I would tell him I didn't love him anymore and that I wish he'd go away. So he did.
Would I feel guilt? Oh, yes. I would be tremendously sorrowful and hold regret close to me for a long while. And up until this day, this moment, I would never let it go.
As I pulled into the gravel parking lot, I stopped for a moment and enjoyed the placid waters. They calmed my restless spirit and I soon found the strength to get out of the car. Wind blew in my hair, and I closed my eyes as I descended the path that was a favorite of ours to walk. Tears formed in the corners of my eyes as I realized that all the feelings I had kept locked inside came bursting out. I sat upon a giant log; it was the same one we had carved our names in. I wept as I ran my fingers across it.
"Would you like a sleeve to dry those pretty eyes on?" a strongly familiar voice asked.
I looked up, "Thomas?" I whispered.
He knelt, "See?" he said, pointing to his own redenned eyes, "Mine too."
I smiled as I sniffled, and he continued, "They won't stop, and I can't figure out how to turn them off. Perhaps you could help me?"
I reached out and softly brushed the tears from his cheeks with my thumbs, "There," I said.
He took my hands and lifted me to my feet. Unable to contain myself I wrapped my arms around him, and held him there for what seemed like hours. I could smell his skin and feel him against me, and for the first time in a long time I was truly happy.
"Jullienne? Julienne?" a distant feminine voice called.
I looked up, and the trees vanished. The lake vanished. Tom...vanished. All that was left beneath my feet were grassy plots with pretty stones and flowers. In my hand I held my own flowers.
"Julienne, what are you doing?" someone asked. "You need to put those flowers in their vase now, because we have to go."
I looked down at the pretty stone beneath me, "Thomas Sparks. 1987-2056."
Elizabeth, young and finally out of patience, marched over to me, "What on earth is taking so long? What are you doing?"