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Foolish Stories And Lies
It was my foolish demure, my immaturity and stupidity that ruined his life. After years of papering and high class treatment, I was poisoned, poisoned with the ideas that life was fair and not at all cruel. I believed with all my heart that people received what they deserved, and I deserved to be young, rich and foolishly in love.
I always chatted about him with my friends, the handsome worker my father had hired to help keep the grounds. He was six years older than I was at the time, twenty-two. His eyes were cold as ice, his hair golden. He was the best looking man I had seen in my lifetime, broad toned shoulders and a chiseled chin. On some evenings I’d run out to hand him a glass of lemonade, he’d smile and thank me, but that was all. But somehow, in my rotten, wild mind of my own, I believed it was much more than that. I cannot truly say why I told the girls in my town, we were in love. But I loved telling the stories. I made up romantic picnics, where he fed me strawberries straight from his callused hands, and walks that when I got tired, he’d lift me up and carry me home. I told them about how surprisingly soft his lips were, when he kissed me, and how our secret romance was all I lived for anymore.
The evening my mother came storming into my room, and dragged me to the floor, was the end of how I saw life. I screamed as she pulled my body down the stairs and out the door, my arms red and face wet with tears. I’ve never screamed so hard. My uncles held him by his shoulders, out near the entryway of our estate. My father kept screaming at his face. I remember the way his eyes burned when he saw me, his normally cold, empty eyes. I remember the smell and taste of gravel, when my face hit the ground after my mother had tossed me. They had me watch as the car pulled away with him in it.
My family disregarded me for years after. I had disgraced their name and dishonored their home. No matter how many times I told them it was not true, that I had lied and made up silly, stupid stories, they did not listen. I spent most of my time in my bedroom and anytime out, I was accompanied by our governess. It was four years later, that I found some time to myself. I was twenty then, far too old for a governess, and I had begged my mother to let me out for a new book. That was not what I wanted at all.
I entered the jail with caution, searching for a guard.
“Excuse me.” I finally announced at the sight of one.
I lied and told the guard I was looking for my brother. When I gave him Ivan’s name, he told me that he had been freed just the year before. I am not sure how I felt about that. Glad of course, because the man who had suffered because of my immaturity was finally free, but disappointed that I hadn’t any idea where he could have been. I decided to go to the book store after all.
The store was a small, quaint place on the town square. There were vendors, carts of knick-knacks and produce that lined the street in front of it. I stopped for a moment, at a cart full of beautiful flowers. It was then, that I saw him for the first time since.
“What are you doing here?” he finally said when he recognized me.
Prison had aged him, but he was still as handsome as he had ever been. Seeing him, brought tears to my eyes. I had dreamed of that moment for four years, and there he was, right in front of me.
“Ivan” I muttered.
He stuck his hands in his pockets and just stared at me, his head shaking in disappointment.
“Are you here to send me to jail again?” he questioned.
I whispered, no.
“Well, can I help you with something? Are you here to buy flowers?”
I shook my head no.
“Words cannot explain how sorry I am.” I had begun. “I was young and stupid and I made up foolish stories that ruined you.”
“Do you know how hard it is to get a job now? Do you know of how many people spat in my face and beat me mercilessly when I was let out of prison? Words cannot make up for what you did Elizabeth.”
I knew it was true, I knew I deserved more than what he had said, but somehow hearing the actual syllables tore me to treads. Maybe it was the way his eye brows furrowed and his eyes burned with flames, or maybe it was the stern, truth in his voice that broke me down.
“I’ve spent the last four years, thinking of some way to make it up for you. To rid myself of this terrible burden I have nailed to my shoulders, I have nailed to your shoulders! But I cannot seem to think of anything. I have already told my parents it was a lie, that we were never really in love, and that you had never touched and hardly spoke to me.” I cried.
He handed me a kerchief for my tears.
“Did they hurt you that day? I saw the way your mother threw you to the curb like a dead animal. Did they hurt you any day after that?”
I didn’t understand. Here I was crying and trying to make things right and he was questioning how I was?
“I’m fine.” I responded.
Two weeks later, I returned. It was enough time to tell my mother that I had finished the book I had gotten two weeks prior, and that I wished for another one. It continued for weeks. I made up little excuses as much as I could to leave the estate and go into town.
“Can I ask you something?” Ivan questioned.
It was a bright sunny day that he asked me this, in the field where he grew his flowers. The land belonged to his mother, and so it was the only place we were ever really alone.
“Of course.” I answered, not bothering to look at him lying next to me in the field.
“What did you say that we did? All those years ago, what kind of stories did you make up about us?”
It would be a lie to say I wasn’t embarrassed to tell him all that I had made up at sixteen. But I told him anyway, I owned that much to him.
“My lips, really?” he laughed when I was finished.
My face burned red as I turned to him smiling. I truly wasn’t expecting what was to happen next.
“Now, I am sure that one must be false.” He continued.
“We cannot say that.” I protested, without much thought to the words. “The only way we could prove that is if we tried.” I teased.
He didn’t respond, and for a while it was quiet between us.
“Would you like to?” he finally asked.
“Like to what?” I said, turning to him.
“Would you like to try and see if you were right? Would you kiss me?”
I brought myself closer. I remember thinking about how I felt watching my father scream in his face. I thought about how his eyes burned as my mother dragged me out of the house, and of all the times I watched him work the grounds from my window as a young girl. I thought about the lies I had made up about him, about how he loved me and that I couldn’t live without our romance. But I realized as our lips met, that it was true. Our romance, our forbidden, tragic, ghastly romance, made me who I was. It was that very kiss that brought along the best months of my life.
He had kissed me one last time before we entered the gates of my family’s estate. He hadn’t been there in over four years, since the day he was dragged out and carried to prison. The last time he had been there, was full of tears and screams, and this would end up no different. I loved Ivan, I always had. As we busted through the doors, running straight to my room to grab my clothes and personal items I couldn’t help but believe, that it would end well. I honestly believed we would pack my things, and that Ivan and I would say good bye to that dreadful place and never return again. I believed we would live happily for the rest of eternity and that I would never have to think about the dreadful thing I had done to him when I was sixteen. I was foolish then, and the day we walked into the estate, I was even more of a fool. I tossed him the two bags as I opened the door and peered into the hallway, it was empty. But by the time we reached the staircase, there waiting, were my mother and father.
Ivan died that day. A single gunshot to his chest, by my father, killed him. Today, would have been our one year wedding anniversary, for the reason we were in such a rush that day, was because we were supposed to be married at the church that very evening. Now, I cannot help but sit in this jail and think about what I have done. If I had not have lied and made up stories about our “romance” we may have really had one, one when I was older and more mature. Maybe then, he would not have been sent to jail and maybe then my family would have been more understanding of our love. I hear the shuffling footsteps of my mother through the door of the wash room. The bath water keeps growing warmer and warmer. I pick the blade up for the last time as I stare at my scar covered hands. Finally, peace.