The Heart in a Lie

January 18, 2009
By Amanda Yarger, Corpus, TX

“What are you doing?” It seemed like such an incredibly simple phrase that I didn’t think twice about it as it was sent. That was my first mistake. My second was ever having believed in love. I couldn’t believe it had been so long since we had talked I thought it was only fitting that I initiate at least one last conversation on this day. Our day. The thing is, guys have no memory recall. Or heart. He had forgotten, and I was only surprised for about five seconds. In fact, I only felt dumb for ever thinking he would have remembered. My third mistake.

The thing was, well, he had held my heart in a way no one ever had before. It seemed almost pathetic of me at this point to remember, but hey, a girl never truly forgets. Time had passed and friends had intervened but the truth was, I wasn’t ready to begin to forget. Not yet. He had been so many things to me. A friend, a listener, a love, and most importantly, a shoulder to cry on. He knew things about me I had tried to long to conceal from everyone. He knew them just by looking into my eyes. He knew my story, my heart, and every freckle on my face. The trust I put into him was never doubted. I wish I hadn’t fallen so easily. I remember our first kiss. I was so scared that day. He found me sitting on my bed crying my heart out. All he had to do was cradle me as my eyes watered that I began to feel relaxed. He asked why someone who had spent six years wearing braces would ever waste her time not smiling. I put my head against his shoulder and told him the truth. I always did. Tell him the truth that is. His smile began to disappear as my tail unfolded.

My sister had always been in the hospital. Ever since her birth, she had been sick. Incredibly sick. I remember when I was younger I used to feel so much guilt that I had always been so healthy while she suffered. It just never seemed right or fair to me. Back then I didn’t understand what exactly was wrong with her. Just that she wasn’t like the brothers and sisters my friends had always had. I was never allowed to hold her and if I ever got to close and she began to cry my parents would severely punish me. As I got older, my parents finally told me why she was so sick. She had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. One of the most common types of childhood cancer. When I heard, my first thought was could I catch it? I know, selfish. But cut me some slack, I was like eight and she was three. My parents assured me it wasn’t contagious and then I wanted to help. They said the only thing I could do was never put stress on Meredith and keep her in my daily prayers. I prayed everyday, and it was hard sometimes to remember not to just keep asking for stuff. Everyday I bargained with the Great Man Upstairs. I promised that if he would help her, I would do one good deed per day. I know, I could have done so much more. But I wanted to make sure I promised things I could keep up with. I didn’t want Meredith being punished because I was a slacker in promise keeping. And I kept those prayers going all these years. Eight to be exact. But now it seemed, I didn’t have to anymore.

As I finished telling him about Meredith and how she had passed away just two hours previously, he lifted my chin up and told me I had done the best I could. It was ultimately God’s plan for her time to come to an end. I didn’t want to hear that. Not then, not now. She was my sister, my responsibility. And I had ultimately failed. He didn’t seem to get that. He was only concerned with making me feel better and looking back, I know I shouldn’t have been so harsh, but it was just so easy to yell and rant than to keep it inside. I screamed that he didn’t know anything I felt then, how could he? He had never lost anyone. The thing was, he took it. He never yelled back, and when I was done, he looked at me again like he could take more if that’s what would make me feel better. How could I keep yelling? I sat back on the bed and looked around my room. I saw all the pictures she had colored me from the hospital, all signed, Love Meredith with a backwards L. It was like her trademark, that backwards L. It was so cute nobody had the heart to tell her that wasn’t how it was supposed to look. I saw the books I would bring with me to the hospital, all sitting in a stack just waiting to be brought back again. The thought of them not being needed anymore cut across like my heart like a dagger. He cradled me again as tears began falling down my cheeks. My Meredith, love, I miss you so much…

I fell asleep and dreamed of the good days we used to have, when Meredith seemed like she was truly getting better. Our biggest worries those days were what game could we all stand playing. Of course, it wasn’t hard to decide; it was always whatever Mer felt like playing. I saw my parents faces light up whenever she smiled. I got glimpses into their happiness when they felt she felt good. I knew it was dumb but I had held a lot back from them then. I felt my problems were nothing I couldn’t handle and they had enough pain. I still feel I made the right choice. When she was allowed to by her doctors, we would load up the car and take her to the beach. Her favorite place in the whole world. Of course, I always wondered if this was only because she had only ever seen our house, our town, and the beach. It made her happy though, so whenever we could we would head out there, rain or shine. It didn’t matter the weather to her, as long as she could feel the sand squish between her toes. She would giggle and dance in the sand like it was the first time she had felt it every time. Sometimes I would dance with her and people around us would stare. I always told her, “let them stare, they just wish they could move like us.” Her laughter haunted me now…

I woke up with a jolt and he grabbed me as I nearly fell off the bed. “Ben…” His name still floats off my tongue like it used to. And I notice it everywhere. Movie and television credits, the paper, books, my diary… It’s like the world is putting it everywhere just to antagonize me. I couldn’t look him the eyes, but I knew he was watching me. He lifted my chin up and just like in the gushiest of romance movies put his lips on mine. It wasn’t long and it wasn’t hard; just a gentle reminder that he was there for me and I should never forget it. I haven’t forgot it, that kiss is on my lips everyday the way most girls wear lip gloss. Sadly, he isn't here for me, that kiss was the beginning of the end. I just didn't want to believe it then.

The author's comments:
This piece really just started as a way to pass the time one Friday night. It's no where near done and no where near good. It just helped writing the introduction during a time I needed it most. A breakup with my boyfriend. I guess most the bitterness came from that. The sadness about Meredith really came from my ambition to work at St. Judes. My prayers go out to the families of those children. Hopefully the piece is readable.

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