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Love and Some Verses
The car door was open on the hill above us, with For Annabelle on the radio. Its notes trickled down to our awaiting eardrums, ours and ours alone in the empty night.
Here I was, pushing twenty-four, in an empty field at an absurd hour with my best friend.
Our brunette heads nestled in the long greens, our lanky limbs in a sandwich of blankets, our heads thrown back to the stars. This beat cloud watching any day.
I closed my eyes, and breathed, the crisp air circulating through my lungs, cleansing them. I smiled to myself. My head felt like it was floating. I glanced to my side at the moon, it looked like it was caught in the tentacles of my hair.
I drew my arm from under the quilt, and used the moonlight to look at my watch face.
“It’s almost three; maybe we should head out, Charlie.” I grinned over at him. He chuckled.
“Yeah, you’re probably right, what’s it been? Two hours?”
It had been much longer than that, and I laughed.
“…something like that.”
I sighed. “Isn’t it great how some of the best things can happen at a moments’ notice?” I said as I gathered up the blankets.
“Well, spontaneous cures for boredom is a very common crisis,” He said like a professor, and I nudged him teasingly, making him stumble on the gravel up to the car. I laughed maniacally, as he glared at me, bursting into a grin and a snarl, chasing me to the car.
After the seatbelt, the next thing I checked in the car was my face in the mirror. I pulled it down, a tiny unwanted light beaming on my features. I laughed and flipped it up, relaxing in blissful defeat. I’d have to settle for the kindness of darkness.
My fingers found the radio dial, and found an Iron & Wine favorite.
“This song always reminds me of you.” He glanced sideways at me, a half smile drew up his lips.
I laughed lightly, just for the thrill of being here, alive and happy. I looked over at him, resting the side of my cheek on the head seat. The wind of my open window whipped my hair about, and though it was brisk and I was wearing a tank top, it didn’t seem to bother me.
The streetlights flitted over Charlies’ face, flickering in his eyes like candles as he drove.
“Why?” I mused, curious and smiling.
He paused, scanning the road, and I saw his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed. Now he turned his head fully to me, and his eyes etched shapes on my face before latching onto my eyes.
His voice had succumbed to a whisper. “Isn’t it obvious?”
The words of the song seemed to fade and melt out of the speakers and drip onto the floor. My stomach made a beeline jump to my throat. The road in front of us was as barren as the blank canvas of words I couldn’t spit out.
I laughed nervously, and said, “I don’t know what you mean, dufus.”
For some reason I couldn’t describe, I choked up a little bit. I ran my shaky hand lightly over my face to hold my mouth, resting my elbow on the ledge of the window.
I tasted the salt drip onto my lip before I felt it.
His voice was hushed. “…don’t cry, please don’t cry.” He laughed quietly. “Why are you crying?”
I sniffed, and gave a smile, his image blurred. “I don’t know.”
I hadn’t cared and loved for a person like this in so long and now that the possibility of his words hung before me like the rosary swinging on the rearview mirror. My tears confused me as much as the lurches in my chest.
“Abby. Abby, you know I’m crazy about you.”
He had slowed down the car, and pulled over to the side, the engine humming in anticipation. I dabbed my tear ducts with the edge of my shirt, exhaling an unsteady breath, my heart beating like panicked pitter-pat of a fleeing rabbit. I toyed with the four-leaf clover bracelet on my thin wrist as he spoke again.
“I hate taking you home. I never use the short cuts, you know that? When we’re together, I’m my happiest. And when you’re not here, I know everything could be so much better with you. I miss you when you’re not around,”
He paused, and gently placed his big hand on my fidgeting one. I noticed he’d been chewing at his fingernails again.
“I love you, Abby.” His voice broke in my head.
I started to cry again, my chin quivering, I felt like a child being consoled that there were no monsters under my bed.
I looked up at him, a tear rolling down my cheek to land onto his hand on mine.
“I’m not sure…” I choked. Wasn’t there supposed to be an epiphany, a sign from God, to revive me from this uncertainty of my heart?
A dim light shone on the curves of his face, waving back and forth, and became more and more intense.
I blinked, thinking the tears were responsible. With an electrocution of realization, I registered what was happening. Our locked eyes focused as our pupils blew, both of us turning towards the front window.
Two fierce, swerving eyes were raging towards the car.
Charlie lifted his hand from mine to shield his squinting eyes.
The front bumper sank its teeth into the corner headlight, ramming into each other like dueling caged dogs, we lurched in our seats. In slow motion, I remembered it frame by frame. Charlie’s head smacked into the side of the window as the airbag exploded from the steering wheel. Glass shattered and shards showered onto my bare legs, sparks rained down from the roof, the rear view mirror snapped and landed on my lap in the pile of glass.
My airbag launched itself at me, and my mind went void.
I awoke to lights and sounds I couldn’t process. Sharp pin pricks morphed into stabs of pain trailing up and spreading out to my limbs. I was in something moving, strapped like a straightjacket. There was a transparent mound around my nose and mouth, fogging up with my shallow breath. Voices and figures were conglomerates around me, and I drifted back into the shadows of my skull.
My eyes opened to a pale-colored room, silent besides fainted footsteps and steady beeps. I turned my head to my left to see my mother clasping my hand in a death grip between her long mahogany nails.
“Mom…?” I croaked. Her face was red and crumpled like the tissue scattered on the bedside table. She surrendered to a sob.
I looked down at my legs under the creamy blanket, the rosary in my lap. The frames photographed in my head came back together to form a picture, a scene, a memory.
“Charlie,” I breathed. My strength was still there under the sinews of my forearms, and I wrenched my hand from my mothers’ as my brain guided me; or more, my heart.
I tore the blanket off from my bandaged legs, leaping off the bed and ripping the IV from my arm. I didn’t give a damn about the fleeting pain.
Before my mother could speak, I had put on the flannel robe hanging from a coat rack by my room door over my hospital gown. With a chance, a nurse passed by and I grabbed her firmly by the arm.
“Where’s Charles Armand?” Her mouth moved like an oxygen drowning fish, until she stammered, “R-room 401.” She glanced over at my doorway, with my mother’s fish mouth also agape standing inside of it. “You’re in 405, 401 is just down the hall to the left a ways,” I stormed off in that direction, and coming to the closed door, I burst it open. It was almost unexpected to see him alone in the room, even though I knew his parents didn’t even live in Wyoming. I collapsed onto his sleeping midsection, tears streaking down my flushed face as his eyes opened, he smiled as I saw in my peripherals I was clutching the rosary. A few of its beads were cracked, but Charlie and I were not unscathed either. “Abby,” he murmured, and held my face as he thumbed away the streams on my cheeks.
“I love you too, Charlie” I gasped out between sobs, and moved up to bury my face in his chest as his hand moved to the tangled top of my head and held me to him.
The song over the speakers was a soothing lullaby to my pounding pulse.
I guess you could call it an epiphany.