A Heart Set Free

July 28, 2016
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He swept into me like an untamed summer wind carrying with him the smell of sweet lilacs that seemed to seep through his every pore and cigarettes. The sickly concoction brought a smile to my nearly always curled lips. His shirt, or the remnants of it, was stained with smudged dirt: the same dirt perfectly matting his hair into motley curls.
He was a motley creature, but I saw the beauty in the ashy remains of a boy becoming a man. My heart paused, awaiting his dagger-like eyes' penetration once unshielded from his old aviator glasses.
Aiden carried with him an air that could force the strongest woman to her knees and the most confident man into professing envy. He was the rebel, the defiant, the revolution seeking hooligan who could have anything and everything he ever wanted.
Yet behind those eyes, ponds of stagnant green, I saw loneliness. I saw the unquenched thirst for something more, for something he couldn't have.
I was that want. I was the sweet, untouched nirvana that boy so yearned to defile with his charm. I was  the good girl who would change him forever. It would be my lips he would taste on every girl, my skin he would feel, my perfume he would smell.
In a way, I suppose I was the one that corrupted him. I tamed that want. For a time, at least.
Just as quickly as he had become a part of me, he swept through me. Like water in my hands, I watched him slip away into the arms of another. I was left empty, forgotten, and seen as little more than a shadow of an amended past. Aiden ruined me in a way that I never thought possible.
The pieces of me that remembered him were onyx chasms not long forgotten, and I begged for every inch of me that he had ever touched, ever seen, ever enjoyed be erased. So, like a tortured soul,  I entered a cocoon and morphed into something which Aiden had never seen, never touched, never loved, never betrayed. Where my heart had been, the onyx chasm replaced.
The home we shared seemed like a memorial dedicated to him, to his memory that had once been so prominent.
I lay outside in the dampened grass staring at the stars with a grin, dried mascara dyeing my cheeks a patchy gray color. Warmth enveloped me like arms wrapping about my body. My neck and back tingle from the contrasting chill of the grass. I questioned whether the sirens in the distance were coming for me.
God, I hated him. I hated every inch, every morsel of that boy, and that very fiery hatred led me to the very place I was. Alone on a dampened lawn wearing nothing but a tank top, underwear, and my own stubborn pride wrapped about my neck.
I hated him for coming to my house that night, for placing his hands on my, for daring me to corrupt him as he had corrupted me with the thought of him for so many years.
Five. Five years it had been since he left; nearly long enough for me to forget his scent. Just nearly.
“Katie!” I could have recognized that voice even in death. From across the street stood the sterling apparition of Aiden, unchanged from the day he had left our small Wyoming town.
He ran to me, passing in front of slowed cars. His shirt was untucked, and he was covered in stains that I wouldn't dare predict the origin of.
“Aiden?” I asked, expecting him to dissipate from view at my recognition as though he were nothing more than a mirage.
He flashed that irresistible grin that had always made me melt. An innocent conversation turned to a dinner invitation. An invitation turned to a night that I would forever wonder about whether I should have regret about.
In an instant he was sitting at my dining room table snacking on my home cooked meal.
“What brings you back here, Aiden? Why now?” I asked.
“What? You're not happy to see me, Katie?”
I looked away, the sound of my name on his lips stinging worse than being burned. Burned... Burning...
His grin faded, “I know I hurt you, Katie. I let you down.”
“You let a lot of people down, Aiden.”
“But you the most.”
I stood to leave, and, as I was conjuring an excuse, his gentle, calloused fingers grazed my hand. A hand turned into a waist, a waist into lips. I hated him for it.
As I lay there in the bed we shared for a month then, I noticed the cold where his body had been. A jolt of panic ran through me. There was no reason for it, a mere instinct. I ran to the bathroom to find Aiden retching, blood staining the white ceramic.
The bathroom floor turned into an ambulance, an ambulance into a hospital room. It had spread, the doctor had explained, to his stomach and lungs with small nodules developing on his spine as well. But that was not news to Aiden.
“How long?” I asked.
“A while,” Aiden had replied. He cried as he explained, “I had to come back to you. I had to fix the biggest mistake I've ever made.”
I walked to the other side of the room, and he followed me. “Katie-,” he reached out, and I turned on him.
My fist beat against his chest, “How could you?! How could you do that to me? How?” I sobbed lightly into his hospital gown as he held me. Still he carried the smell of lilacs and cigarettes although he had quit smoking years ago.
He came back only to leave me again, and I hated him for it. There was only one thing that could overtake my anger and that was the blistering pain of my heart shattering behind the steel cage I had captured it in, leaving shrapnel through my body. Blistering.... Shattering...
Before another tear could fall, a hospital bed turned to a coffin, and a reunion turned to a funeral. Once that first tear fell there was no use in holding the rest from following. People worried that I would become little more than a puddle after the storm had passed.
After a while, all I knew how to do was hurt. It was the only thing that could make me feel more isolated, the pain. There was no  way to describe it. No matter the endless amount of similes, nothing could do that dull ache justice. No one would ever feel what I felt. No one would use me as a simile: “I feel like Katie having herself torn apart by Aiden as he rips from her his favorite pieces so that he can keep them forever.”
All at once, the tears stopped, and my legs carried me to the garage. There, the gas can and lighters smiled their pitiful smiles at me. The gas on the mattress turned into a spark. A spark into an inferno. I traveled to the kitchen; every plate I shattered against the same white ceramic that his blood had covered severed the string connecting my heart to his rotting corpse.
The dining room table, the sofa, the curtains: all of them were doused in flames. It was the only way. The only way to reclaim myself was to delete every thing that had been a part of him. That he had tattooed with his fingerprints.
I stood, the flames lapping hungrily at my arms and ankles. The back door hung open and I went through it and into the open yard. The dampened grass stung at my blistering skin.
The sirens grow louder now, my breath shallows. The warmth at my neck becomes Aidens lips and the water droplets on m blisters become his fingers. I close my eyes, shivering at his touch.
“I'm not yours anymore,” I say. I turned to face his pale figure that still smelled of lilacs and cigarettes.
Aiden's hands grasp the chains connecting our wrists and with a final kiss the cool metal snaps.
Staring up at the stars, I wonder what it would feel like to grow back like a sapling snapped before it had a chance to be a mighty oak. It's a shame I would never find out after I fell into the onyx chasm not long forgotten. Oh, what a shame.

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