Anyway, I'm back today with a little diddy for y'all, an entry for my friend's Heather Howland's A Picture's Worth a Thousands Words contest, complete with the picture that inspired the piece.
He’s down there somewhere, I think. Just left me behind…
And I hate him for it.
There’s no coming back from Hallow’s Lake. Sure they dredged the lake and retrieved Dashel’s bloated, discolored body. I know he’s still down there. His sighs wash ashore with every wave, his laughter dances in wet mocking tones around the pillars beneath my feet. It’s easy to imagine the gull’s cry is Dash’s too. But Dash never cried until that night.
I slouch to the dock, the water soaking my dress when I slide forward and dip my feet in.
I wish I could feel the chill like I used to, or feel the bubbles tickling my toes. I can’t. There’s nothing beyond the aching heart in my chest, I’ve been numb since Dashel left. I hate him for that, too.
The sun drifts on it’s lazy path from the sandy beach to the east toward the twilight trees on the west shore. Just past noon, I droop to the dock and slide my legs along the edge. My fingers dangle in the water, distorted beneath the surface. Please Dash, just a brush of your fingers…
Sunlight rolls in soft rumples of the surface. An oval of light beyond my reach takes on features until Dashel’s face is achingly close and so very far beyond my reach. I watch the ghost reflection move closer, until the wavy blond strands of his hair enclose my fingers. A sob catches in my throat, and I wish the tear I feel burning my eye would fall and give me some relief.
Dash, I think.
His lips curl into the smile I loved.
Despite my ache, my want to be in his arms, this is all the closer we can be.
Everything changed the moment he plunged beneath the surface.
One more smile, a light in the darkness he left behind for me, and Dashel’s apparition dissolves back into the placid blue waters of Hallow’s Lake. A gull cries for me. No sound squeezes past the lump in my throat. I’ve been mute and empty for too long now. I know the moment I lost everything, but I can’t remember when it was. A week? Months? My hollow forever stretches ever on.
The sun flirts with the edge of the shadowed trees in the west. Beads of burning light wave like a dancing necklace in an evening breeze that doesn’t touch me. Nothing has touched me except the pain in my chest for so long now.
What I wouldn’t give to feel the sun, the water.
What I wouldn’t give to return to the moment life veered forever off course.
I rise as every night since, my feet splashing silently in the water slicking the dock. I used to fantasize about falling in, drowning like Dashel, but we’re stuck in this loop of me needing him, him being just beyond reach. The shoreline rises in white sand hills, tufts of biting beach grass and twilight shadows that have become more familiar than life. A familiarity I never achieve.
A jittery sensation skates my nerves, an echo of the fear I felt that night.
Even the entirety of that feeling is denied me.
Ahead lie, not the source of the fear, but the reminder.
Deep black brown stains the dock boards just a few feet from the shore I cannot touch. The first time I saw the stain it was wet crimson, shiny with my blood and peppered with the chunks of the car’s windshield.
Now it’s a flat, dark reminder of all we had before. And what I cannot go beyond.
I’m compelled to repeat this cycle until Dashel or I can move past the fight that brought us to this lakeside purgatory. My feet drag forward, the bruising evident beneath the hem of my dress. The skitter along my nerves increases, a itch just out of reach that deepens with every inch closer to the stain on the wooden slats.
My toe brushes the edge, and twilight sucks in a breath. Then, a broken china doll, I collapse to the point where my life bled out. Karma yanks me back to the ghost of Dashel’s car where it smashed into the guard rail.
The lakeshore twists savagely around me as my death rewinds to the moment where I screamed, “Dashel, NO!”
He couldn't hear me over his own sobs.
You see, I broke his heart when I told him I wanted a break.
Now, we are both broken by the deaths my arrogance caused.
The car crashed into the guard rail. The momentum launched Dashel through the windshield and into the water, and flung my body to the pristine dock.
Where would we be if I hadn’t wanted something new?
Dashel would be alive, his soul not trapped in the lake where he drown. I would be alive, maybe happy and content in the light of his smile, instead of cursed to haunt this dock, always aching for what I wanted to give away.
Now I can’t even tell him I love him, though my dead and aching heart tells me that truth with every moment.
I love you, Dashel.
I loved you then...